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When you rock your little one to sleep at night, do you find yourself singing “Hush little baby, don’t say a word” or “Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur?”
Matt Inman, The New York Times best-selling author of “How to Tell if Your Cat is Trying to Kill You” and creator of comedic website, the Oatmeal, says while he doesn’t classify himself as a cat person or a baby person, he has owned cats before and has many friends who have just started their parenthood journey, giving him lots of material to work with.
“Truthfully, I'm a dog person. Or tarantulas,” Inman told TODAY Parents. “I have a pet tarantula named Richard Nixon and I sometimes throw him at houseguests who overstay their welcome. I call it doing the ‘Tricky Dick Maneuver.’ You can't do that with babies. Babies aren't venomous and don't have very many legs.”
Inman’s comic, “Having a baby vs. having a cat,” argues cats are superior to babies for a number of reasons, including their ability to poop in a litter box instead of a diaper and their tendency to awkwardly watch romantic moments between their parents rather than ruin them by crying.
Lindsay Ishihiro, creator of the web comic How Baby, has a 2-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old cat, and says she created a rebuttal to Inman’s comic, titled “Why babies are better than cats,” not because she disagrees with his points, but because she wanted to give babies their own voice in the argument.
“What’s ironic about my personal journey is that everything Matt wrote about babies in that comic, I definitely said at one time, and more…Women get caught in the middle of this 'babies vs. everything else' debate all the time,” Ishihiro said.
“Either you're selfish for rejecting motherhood, or you're this gross, unsleeping, mother-monster whose life is over because she's attached forever to a screaming, filthy hell spawn baby. Neither of those things are true, but we make jokes about them like they are. How Baby is, at its heart, about how motherhood is only part of my identity — how I'm still an artist, and a nerd, and a cat-lover, and a feminist — so I thought it was a good place to shine a gentle light on this silly, false debate.”
In Ishihiro’s comic, she pokes fun at the cons of cat-ownership, reminding readers about the joys of anal sac impaction and cat vomit, and the fact that it’s nearly impossible to rent a place to live with a cat, where being refused a rental because you’re a parent is illegal.
Inman says his comic is one of the most popular ones he’s published this year, adding that more than 10 million Facebook users viewed it in the first few days.
“I feel responsible for starting a cat vs. baby war,” said Inman.
Ishihiro believes this type of discussion started way before Inman’s post.
“Parenthood is a very polarizing topic; either you get dystopian portrayals like Matt's, or you get pink washed saccharine accounts of how babies are just lovely,” she said.
Of course, it’s OK to love cats and babies — so snuggle up with your baby and your fur child at bedtime tonight and tell them the reasons you love them both.