Members of a popular internet forum were left amused after one husband explained why he failed to celebrate his wife on Mother’s Day.
In a viral post published on Reddit’s r/AmITheA**hole forum, Redditor u/aitacatnomothersday (otherwise referred to as the original poster, or OP) assured the forum he and his wife do not have children, but detailed her great disappointment after not receiving any form of recognition for caring for the couple’s adopted kitten.
Titled, “[Am I the a**hole] for not doing anything for my wife on Mother’s day?” the post has received nearly 5,700 votes and 1,400 comments in the last day.
“My wife came to me last night and said she was disappointed that I didn’t get her anything or take her out for Mother’s Day,” OP began. “I was confused and said she wasn’t a mother.”
“She said she’s basically a mother because we have a cat and she takes care of him,” he continued. “I admit that I started laughing because I thought she was joking.”
“I tried explaining that, at minimum, qualifying for [Mother’s Day] should entail being a parent or potential parent to a human child,” he added. “I have no intentions of being celebrated on [Father’s Day] because I have a cat.”
Pet owners labeling themselves parents, seriously or jokingly, is one of the internet’s favorite topics of debate.
Last October, research conducted by Shelly Volsche, a clinical assistant professor of anthropology at Boise State University, revealed that child-free pet owners are more likely to feel more attached to animals than their child-having counterparts.
Volsche’s research also revealed that child-free pet owners are more likely to use family terms like “parent,” “child,” “kids” and “guardians” when referring to their relationship with pets.
However, while certain demographics may be more inclined to treat pets like family members, the pushback against referring to pets as children, or pet owners as parents, has been strong and sustained.
Among numerous Reddit threads and Quora inquiries pointing out the difference between caring for a pet and raising a child, two articles from Fatherly and The Cut stand out as beacons against equating pet ownership to parenting.
In 2016, The Cut writer MA Wallace sparked outrage when they exposed the harsh reality that owning a pet is not the same as having, and raising, a child.
“We should remember that pets are extensions of us. We keep them to meet our needs, not theirs,” Wallace wrote. “Though we fantasize that person and pet meet as equals and join forces out of mutual admiration and respect, that’s not how it is.”
“You can’t ‘parent’ a pet because you aren’t teaching it how to leave you and become and being independent,” Wallace added. “Your pet is stuck with no choice but to love you.”
Describing the comparison of parenting and pet ownership as “a delusion,” Wallace made clear what many parents of children think of animal owners and lovers who genuinely believe their role as caretaker is the same as a parent’s.
Two years later, in 2018, Fatherly writer Jeremy Michael Wilson echoed Wallace’s sentiments.
“I’ve owned a dog. I’ve owned cats,” Wilson wrote. “Before I actually had a real child, I was under the mistaken impression that caring for these animals was simply the first step in the preparation of real parenthood.”
“I was wrong. So, so wrong,” Wilson continued. “If parenting was judged on a scale of 1 to 10, raising an animal is about a point 5.”
Redditors agreed with both Wallace and Wilson, and remained adamant that the original poster was justified in not celebrating his wife on Mother’s Day.
“[Not the a**hole],” Redditor u/NotMyFirstChoice675 commented. “Pray she never has kids if she thinks taking care of a cat is near the effort of parenthood.”
“I like animals, and have no kids or grandkids, but trying to claim motherhood if you have a cat is just embarrassing,” Redditor u/Unit-Healthy added.
In the post’s top comment, which has received more than 8,200 votes, Redditor u/heretic8921 admitted they call themselves a “cat mom” but scoffed at the notion that owning a pet should be celebrated on Mother’s Day.
“I had a cat for 16.5 years and at no point did I consider celebrating Mother’s Day despite calling myself a cat mom,” they wrote.
Newsweek reached out to u/aitacatnomothersday for comment.