Adopted Cats Become Patient, Loving Co-parents

Danielle’s daughters are learning and growing alongside their favorite felines, Frank and Dora.

Danielle + Frank/Dora

Before Danielle had children, she adopted Frank and Dora. Now, the cats are helping Danielle and her husband raise their family with patience, purrs and unconditional love.

"Both of my daughters learned to meow before they learned to speak English, and I fully expect our impending third daughter will, as well. But our cats have taught our girls more than that."

Adopted Cats Frank & Dora

I remember when Jon and I were adopting Frank and Dora, and a few well-meaning acquaintances cautioned us, “Think about how you’ll feel when you have kids later.” This warning came from people who likely thought we were rushing things by adding two cats to our newly shared household after only a month of cohabitating and only six months of dating, and I guess we probably should have considered it. But we were 25, we wanted cats, and kids were the farthest thing from our minds.

Fast forward 12 years, and we honestly can’t imagine having our kids without these little furballs. It started before we even brought a baby home. Frank, our gentle, orange giant, has been my constant companion through three pregnancies now: sitting by my feet through bouts of morning sickness, wrapping himself around my giant belly to keep the baby warm, and supporting me so aggressively while I labored in our apartment that he had to be removed from my room.

Adopted Cats Frank & Dora

Sure, when we brought Ella, our oldest daughter home, the cats hissed at her when she cried. But just a few days later they also realized she was a snuggly bundle of dairy-scented warmth. Ella and Dora, our runty tuxedo extrovert, have been nearly inseparable since. Dora is the only creature allowed to share Ella’s square on the couch; Ella is the only creature allowed to put her face anywhere near Dora’s. Our second daughter, Audrey, will share her cheese crackers with the cats, but God forbid anyone else try to sneak even one from her bowl.

Adopted Cats Frank & Dora

Both of my daughters learned to meow before they learned to speak English, and I fully expect our impending third daughter will, as well. But our cats have taught our girls more than that. Frank and Dora have taught them patience — both its importance and its limits, with a carefully placed warning paw to the face when said patience ran out. We constantly use the cats as examples when we’re trying to teach the girls about consent — as in, “Dora is in charge of what happens to her body, just like you are in charge of your body, and if she shows us she doesn’t like something, we have to stop.” They’ve taught my daughters forgiveness; somehow, even when boundaries have been crossed, whether by the cats (stealing a toy or wrecking a tower of blocks) or by the kids (trying to put a hat on the kitty’s head or getting too familiar with a twitching tail), they always land back together on the couch.

Right now, Dora is asleep in bed with Ella, and Frank is lurking next to me, waiting to help incubate this baby when my laptop is out of the way. At 25, I couldn’t imagine my life with children in it. Tonight, I’m so gratefully we knew we were the cats’ forever family; they were our first babies, and they make excellent co-parents.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Danielle won South Shore Humane Society in Braintree, Massachusetts a 2019 Holiday Wishes award.