Imagine living at warp speed and you’ve got an idea what your cat or dog goes through in its first two years of life. They leave all the comforts of their mama’s care to live with loud and incomprehensible beings that tower over them. They have to learn where it’s appropriate to “go,” as well as the fact that those same loud beings want to know when they need to do so.
Suffering the indignity of letting everyone know your basic bodily functions, plus the confusion of how to get the message across to their human parents: yes, that sounds like the teen years. Mix that with growing pains, and letting us know when they’re hungry, all the while trying to overcome the language barrier between us. Animals don’t have it easy.
According to the Feline Health Center at Cornell University, cats may experience “age-related physical changes between seven and 10 years of age.” Think you’ve heard the maxim a wee bit too often that every cat or dog year is equal to seven human years? That’s far simpler than what research suggests. Essentially, a year-old kitty should have her Sweet 16 party planned pronto, because in another year she’d be legally old enough to go out drinking with her friends – or 21, in human terms. (Of course, in reality, you’d never allow your pet to drink alcohol – I’ve seen what it can do to humans, and it ain’t pretty.)
If our pets enter puberty (if they aren’t fortunate to be neutered before then) they are likely to be very vocal about it. And demonstrate it in many unwelcome ways, including scratching the door jambs and peeing on your car tires.
Fortunately, most children have learned better manners.
Pets now benefit from vaccinations that target diseases which once claimed the lives of many kittens and puppies. Add that to advances in nutrition, and being primarily indoor pets, and the result is pets are living longer. The raging hormones of adolescence are the least of our pets’ stresses. They’re able to live to what we’d consider retirement age, and they’re beginning to experience the frailties that humans encounter: cancer, arthritis, heart disease, hypertension, and even senile dementia. Specialist veterinarian practices are now available to walk us through CT scans and sonograms for our pets. Blood transfusions and chemotherapy treatments, and even kidney transplants for pets are making headway.
We are so attached to our pets, it’s hard to know when to let go.
Life’s hectic enough already. Our pets are living it at breakneck speed. No wonder they savor a nap every chance they can get one.
It’s said we have a serious sleep deficit in the U.S. We need to learn to live the slow life, take it easy. Curl up with a good book, and take a siesta.
I’m ready. Race you to my favorite recliner!