5 Things Toddlers & Cats Have in Common

Ever noticed the uncanny similarities between your toddler and your favorite feline?

I have two cats and one toddler (and a dog, but she’s the most easy-going creature in this house, including my husband and myself; as such, she is not the subject of this post). Recently, I’ve realized there are a startling number of similarities between the toddler and the cats.

I love my kid, and in general, I love my cats, but these similarities are not particularly endearing and not great selling points for anyone considering becoming a parent or adopting a cat. If you’re one of those people and don’t want to be discouraged, I suggest you stop reading here. If you’ve already got kids and/or cats, feel free to keep going; you’re probably just jaded enough to appreciate my observations. 

Now, I’m not sure if the two-year-old and the cats are picking up bad habits from one another or if all three of them have the innate desire to drive me nuts, but the fact remains, they’re alike in a lot of ways. Some examples:

1. They’re cuddly until they’re not. They love to be in your lap, snuggled up and purring (or babbling/talking) contentedly, but then Jupiter’s third moon falls out of alignment, thus ushering in a prolonged period of intense wailing and gnashing of teeth. Everything you’re doing is wrong, wrong, WRONG, and why are you forcibly holding them captive?! Help! Help! The toddler often tries to express his displeasure by thrashing about and delivering a well-placed kick to the shins; the cats just bare their claws and aim for flesh.

2. If you are paying attention to anything other than them, they have to be in your lap immediately. A laptop is a prime example. There is your child, happily engaged in an episode of Curious George, laughing at one of the many shenanigans caused by the lovable little simian, not paying the least bit of attention to you. Then, you have the audacity to pull out your laptop to try to get some work done. It’s like the moment the computer screen lights up, a warning bell goes off in their little brain, “*Beep* Mama’s attention has been diverted by something else *beep* Immediate action is required *beep*”

You have your own *beeps* running through your head as they clamber up into your lap and on top of your laptop for snuggles that, while adorable, are very ill-timed, as you have a pressing deadline.

And my cats do the same thing. “You’re doing something? Oh, let me lounge across your keyboard until the blue screen of death is induced. Nothing else for you to do but pet me while I sit here and knead your thighs with my needle-like claws.”

3. They openly challenge your authority. Both a cat and a toddler will stare you down while you tell them not to do something, and do that very something anyway. For example, I tell my two-year-old not to throw the ball in the house (because I’m an unreasonable monster, you know), and he locks eyes with me and throws it as hard as he can at the window. If he knew what the “finger” was and had the fine motor skills to give it, that would be his next move. The scenario with the cats is along the exact same lines. “Stop scratching the couch/trying to knock the water glass off the table/biting my ankle” is met with eye contact and more scratching/the crash of a cup hitting the floor/a harder bite. They don’t have fingers to give, so at least there’s that little ray of sunshine.

4. They don’t always like to sleep at the same time you do. Cats are, by nature, nocturnal creatures, and apparently, my child is too. My cats are indoor/outdoor, so at least their night-owl ways make sense. They spend all day dozing and shedding on your bed and all night plotting how to take over the world, so it’s only logical that their waking schedule would be different from yours. We now have a cat door from the garage to the outside world *glory hallelujah* so when the lights go out, so do the cats.

However, a quick Google search reveals that CPS tends to frown on putting your child to sleep–not to sleep, really, but down, anyway–in the same place you park your car, so he has to stay in the house. And apparently, he also has big plans to take over the world* because he doesn’t want to sleep either. Side note: He has not spent the whole day dozing and shedding, so where this energy comes from is a mystery science has yet to explain.

*He and the cats should really get together because, assuming they don’t kill each other, three such indomitable spirits would have world domination within their grasp in a matter of weeks.

5. They occasionally panic and run around the house like they’re on fire. Unexplained screaming, much like unexplained smells, is a common occurrence when you have small children. A few times a week, both my child and my cats decide to run throughout the house for no apparent reason. There is no obvious disturbance to which to attribute this reaction; they just go from a relatively peaceful state to zig-zag running so that whatever is after them has a harder time keeping up. I have no explanation for this behavior. If you happen to be dealing with this phenomenon yourself, I suggest simply waiting it out. Who knows, maybe they’ll sleep better tonight.


Inexplicably, these will likely not be my last cats or my last kid. My husband is fine with more kids, but he swears there will be no more cats. It’s adorable that he really seems to believe that. But the fact remains, these similarities between my two-year-old and my cats are concerning. I just hope one of them will outgrow these behaviors, so I can at least have an ally when the other two try to take over the world.

Jordan byline