What do you call yourself to your pets?
July 19, 2013 8:24 PM   Subscribe

When you are talking to your pets, what do you refer to yourself as?

When you are talking to your pets, what do you refer to yourself as? I think it's super weird that my live-in girlfriend calls herself "Mommy" and me "Daddy" to our pup but it's just as awkward to refer to herself in the third person. So what do you call yourself when talking to your pets?
posted by lpcxa0 to Home & Garden (132 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I'm Bob, the wife is Mom.

don't get too hung up on this, folks have different ways to view their relationship with their four-footers, allow her that, you define it as you need to.
posted by HuronBob at 8:27 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I think it's super weird too, but a lot of people do it. I don't really call myself anything when I talk to my pets. It's like if you asked me what I call myself when talking to my friends. My name, I guess?
posted by Jairus at 8:28 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Happens all the time; I put it on the "not at all weird" side of the scales. If she starts treating them like children (e.g., dressing them up), then that's weird.

However, that doesn't mean you can't say, "Hey, honey, it kinda weirds me out when you do this. Could you ramp it back a little?"
posted by Etrigan at 8:28 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

When we speak about ourselves from the point of view of the cats, we usually refer to ourselves as "the monkeys" or "food apes". Less frequently, "mom" and "dad". Our cat actually gives us a snarky meow when we order him off the table, which we've translated as "you're not my real dad!"

No, we don't have human children.
posted by matildaben at 8:35 PM on July 19, 2013 [32 favorites]

I talk to the pets like they're adult people. If I need to refer to myself when talking to the pets, I use "I" or "me". If I need to refer to my live-in girlfriend when talking to the pets, I use my live-in girlfriend's name.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:37 PM on July 19, 2013 [10 favorites]

"Mommy" to two cats here . . . no human kids.
posted by ainsley at 8:39 PM on July 19, 2013

We usually refer to ourselves as "the humans," "human" (with no article,) or our actual first names.

I don't have kids, and using parental words with the dog doesn't roll off the tongue for me, but I do refer to my parents as her grandparents when talking to the dog.
posted by juliapangolin at 8:40 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

It's not super weird to refer to yourself as mommy etc when talking to pets.

In part because one of our dogs is the actual mother of the other two, and in part because of the implicit sexual congress, I generally don't use mom/dad or cognates. Instead, I refer to us as mom-oid and dad-oid.

Though less when I'm talking to them and more when I'm speaking on their behalf. We do a lot of that in our house.

The dogs swear a lot.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:41 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I find I don't really need to refer to myself in the third person when talking to my cats. But when I do, I usually use a variation of "Human Guy."

When my childhood cat was in the hospital, my dad visited him every day. The hospital staff called him "Sparky's dad," which he was not comfortable with. So they changed it to "Sparky's person." The pet parent nomenclature is weird to some but normal to others.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:45 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't, I refer to them as "Roscoe", "Stella" or "you", they don't need to know who I am to get off the table. I would absolutely never refer to myself as "daddy" to one if the cars. I have a child. She is not a pet.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:46 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't usually talk to my dog in third person, but if I do, I guess sometimes I call myself "mom," or "human" if I'm being clever. It really doesn't mean anything, and honestly, if I guy I was dating said it creeped him out, I would think he was reading way too much into it. I don't actually think my dog is my child or anything like that.
posted by lunasol at 8:47 PM on July 19, 2013

I'm Big Daddy, King of Ham-istan. Hey... my corgis love ham!

Sure it's weird, but people are weird when it comes to their pets. No harm, no foul!
posted by matty at 8:47 PM on July 19, 2013 [8 favorites]

I'm mommy, the fiancé is daddy. We don't think it's weird but I was previously coupled with a dude who thought it was super weird. So then we were girl human and boy human. To each their own, really.
posted by picklesthezombie at 8:48 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel the same way that you do OP, but my husband disagrees. But it's really not worth fighting about so:

I am "mom" (as in "go find mom!"), but he is "[firstname]".

I'd never call myself "mom" to my pets.
posted by sparklemotion at 8:48 PM on July 19, 2013

I don't refer to myself in the third person when I talk to them. I don't really think of myself as the mother of my cats... and I call them by their names, or "buddy," or "friend."
posted by perryfugue at 8:51 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do people refer to themselves in the third person to animals as they do to kids?

I have a cat. I call her "you" and she calls me "meow" although I can't promise you I haven't once or twice said something like "Your poor old monkey has to go out in the snow to get you cat food."
posted by zadcat at 8:52 PM on July 19, 2013 [6 favorites]

I call myself "Mommy [Firstname]," and my gf "Mommy [Firstname]." Yes, our dog has two mommies. (Sometimes we have to speak of "Mommy Soft-Touch" and "Mommy Meanieboots.") And we will say things like "Where's your other mommy?" or "Go see your other mommy" to her.

We have no human children.

But when voicing the dog's thoughts/utterances, we generally have her say "human." As in, "Where is my dinner, human?" "Why are you so terrible, human?" "That's my pillow, human!" etc. She, um, generally thinks we are interchangeable anyway. If one of us calls her, she responds, seemingly at random, to one of the two of us. And somehow it's always my turn for whatever it is she needs...
posted by lysimache at 8:54 PM on July 19, 2013 [12 favorites]

I don't call myself anything. Maybe I should introduce myself to my dog?

Other people call me her "mom" which I put up with. Yet I don't like the word owner as she is more than a mere possession.

I do refer to my mom as her Gramma but that's a holdover from referring to her that way when my niece or nephew is around.
posted by kanata at 8:55 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Do people refer to themselves in the third person to animals as they do to kids?

Sort of off topic, but pronouns are hard and it takes kids a while to understand that "you" or "me" doesn't always refer to the same thing. It is clearer to say, "bring that to dada" than "bring that to me".
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:56 PM on July 19, 2013

Ha -- well, I'm "daddy," my wife is "mommy," but often I'm "OH HERE COMES DADDYWADDYRADDYMADDY with a cookie in the kong," or "OHDADDYLOVESYOUSOMUCHLITTLESTINKYBUTT," or "HEY! Get out of the garbage!"

We've also both been known to her as "MOMANDDAD," as well as "Daddio and Mommio."

We have a little Jack Russell Pug named Roxy:


Love the shit out of your animals. Who cares what you call yourself to them! The only thing they know is that they love you 43,000% of the time whether you're Frank, Sarah, Mommy, or Oogabooger.
posted by Jim On Light at 8:59 PM on July 19, 2013 [13 favorites]

I'm "Daddy". It's just me and him, so I don't really have to care if other people think it's weird.
posted by trip and a half at 9:11 PM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Also, I don't think it's any weirder than talking to pets in the first place. Aside from one-word commands, they don't have the slightest idea what your saying, anyway.
posted by trip and a half at 9:15 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

We maintain the idea that the cat thinks of us as the pink monkeys. So, I am "girl monkey", boyfriend is "boy monkey".
posted by fussbudget at 9:16 PM on July 19, 2013

Collectively, we are "the uprights". Usually with a modifier, as in "stupid godforsaken uprights won't let me on the couch, I'll show them, I'll sulk over here in this corner".

The SO calls me Mom to both our dogs--one he has had since he was married, and my rescue that I got in the early stages of our relationship. I don't mind being Mom, but for me, it feels odd to use Dad because he has several upright children of his own, so in my dog-monologue, he is [first name redacted].
posted by skyl1n3 at 9:25 PM on July 19, 2013

Big Monkey & Smaller Monkey. When I'm annoyed with them, I am Thumb-Haver, Bringer of Food Whom They Are Insufficiently Appeasing.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:26 PM on July 19, 2013 [4 favorites]

I feel that the pets don't care what you call yourself as long as you don't call them late for dinner. I mean seriously, they don't understand English (or whatever language you speak) so they really don't know what "mommy" or "daddy" means. You could call yourself "spaghetti" and it wouldn't matter to them. I have two dogs and a cat and I call myself "me" as in, "are you barking at me?", and "get off of me" or "come to me" and my husband is "him" as in "go to him" or "give it to him" etc... . They don't need a name for us, they know who we are.

As for your girlfriend, let her call herself whatever she likes. If it makes her feel better to think of herself as a pet parent, give that to her. It's not hurting anyone.
posted by patheral at 9:27 PM on July 19, 2013

posted by ursus_comiter at 9:28 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I personally never called myself anything to my pets, but my ex's mother called me "Aunty Crystalinne" to the family dog. (It was technically his sister's dog, so I was the dog's aunt I guess.)

I think if she starts going in the direction of giving the dog an extended family, that goes into weird territory.
posted by Crystalinne at 9:28 PM on July 19, 2013

Roommate is Default Human.

I am Spare Human.
posted by spinifex23 at 9:29 PM on July 19, 2013 [14 favorites]

We have a multi-generational pet household. Not really, none of the pets are actually related to each other but, well, it's complicated. Our dog used to belong to my parents, but when they moved overseas and couldn't bring her, we adopted her, so my parents are her "Mom" and "Dad". My wife and I are "Mom" and "Dad" to our older cat, and our 12 year old daughter is "Mom" to the younger cat. This occasionally results in references like, "No, silly cat, your sister has the treats."

Yeah, pets are weird.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:30 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm 'your mama' to my cat. As in 'did you miss your mama?' or 'your mama would really like it if you would shut up'. I don't think it's weird at all. On the other hand, I do think it's weird that my dad refers to his little dog as 'my brother' (he got this dog well into my twenties so it's not like I've ever even lived with the thing). Annoys the shit out of me. But my good friends (who lived with me and my cat and love the shit out of my cat and often cat-sit) are referred to as Aunt(s) and Uncle(s). So yeah...
posted by greta simone at 9:31 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm "that one chick" and my roommate is "that other chick".

Pets are not children. For one thing you can't lock your kids in a little cage while you go out clubbing, it's illegal.
posted by fshgrl at 9:31 PM on July 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

In my house, it's Play Mommy (roommate), Sleepy Mommy (Me) and Tolerable Guy (boyfriend). Tolerable Guy is slowly getting upgraded to Cool Guy, but it's been a long process.
I don't like getting called Luna's Mommy too much, because I'm not, but we are pack leaders/ parental figures, so it's kind of appropriate in some ways. I have no kids, either, so that helps.
posted by stoneegg21 at 9:33 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Like lysimache, our dog has two mommies and we each refer to ourselves as "Mommy [Firstname]." I was "Mommy" to my first dog, too (my partner had never done this before, but I think she's come around), although in retrospect it occurs to me that I always referred to the guy I was going out with when I got her as "Uncle [Firstname]" rather than "Daddy" ... which in retrospect, I suppose, says something about my expectations for the staying power of that relationship.

I also have "niece" dogs for whom my partner and I are both "Aunt [Firstname]" (and our dog is "Cousin [Dogsname]"), and those dogs just got a new human sister. I guess our dogs' family trees are extensive.
posted by DingoMutt at 9:34 PM on July 19, 2013

Mommy and Daddy. Friends are "Auntie so-and-so" and "Uncle such-and-such," with slightly less seriousness.
posted by radioamy at 9:34 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mom and Dad here. Yeah, Mommy and Daddy is weird.
posted by bongo_x at 9:38 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

We don't have/can't have kids so we call ourselves "Mum" and "Dad", though only when we are trying to guess what they animals are thinking, or doing that rather twee thing of saying what we think they are thinking. Like "Muuuuuum why can't we go for a walk now?". If I want to ask them to find my husband I'll go "Find Bob, Where's Bob?" They seem to have grasped that Dad and Bob are the same person.

You might find this a little interesting and on topic. A lot of modern research into dog behaviour shows they tend to think of their pack more in a family type way, and wolf packs are usually actually made up of family members, so calling yourself Mum & Dad might not be too far from how the dogs think of you themselves, or at least they think of you as "Weird 2 legged Family member that smells like this and makes me feel safe".
posted by wwax at 9:39 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I refer to myself as "me." If I am speaking an imagined dialogue from the cat's perspective, I'm the "male human."
posted by stopgap at 9:40 PM on July 19, 2013

I don't call myself anything. I pretty much talk to my dog like he's a person (except for commands). So if I have to refer to myself, I suppose I'm "me", or "I".
posted by Sara C. at 9:44 PM on July 19, 2013

I don't use this with my current pet, but once I had a roommate with two cats. The arrangement was that they were her cats, so she fed them so that she could be sure when and how much they were eating.

Often I would be home when she wasn't there, and if it was close to meal time for the cats, they'd come rubbing up on me, talking to me, meowing plaintively next to the food. I always said, "Sorry, I'm not the feeder." After a while I just started referring to my roommate as The Feeder, to them, whether they were begging for snacks or not.
posted by Sara C. at 9:47 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mostly "I" or "me" as well, although occasionally when various dogs were naughty I would refer to myself via various hebrew terms for god, because why not. THEY DON'T SPEAK ENGLISH ANYWAY. they speak dog.
posted by elizardbits at 9:48 PM on July 19, 2013

I'm also much more likely to refer to myself as my dog's Person than "Mommy" or anything like that.
posted by Sara C. at 9:48 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am "The Lady". My friends who feed them are "The Aunties". My bf is "Guy Who Takes Up Bed Space". Collectively, we are "The Staff".
posted by marylynn at 9:52 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

My husband and I are our cats' mom and dad. Our new baby is their little brother and they are his sisters. They call the baby that weird new cat. Our household is weird.
posted by apricot at 9:54 PM on July 19, 2013 [9 favorites]

I don't call myself anything either but I do talk to my two cats all the time. I generally don't refer to myself in the third person so it wouldn't occur to me to call myself anything.

When people visit they usually talk to my cats and refer to me as their mom, like "oh you like your mom better than me huh" (true)
posted by sweetkid at 10:17 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

Mommy/Daddy is only weird if there's only one human in the house. (Sorry, single pet moms/dads.) "Go find Mom" feels totally normal for my wife and me (what with a dog being the closest thing to a child we'll ever have). Calling each other our given names to the dog would feel more like parents trying to raise precocious children by only using first names.

So within our little nuclear family, it's mom and dad. When other people use "mom and dad" with our dog, it's a little weird. Go figure.

"Go find mom" is not nearly as effective as "Go away". Incidentally, "Go away" is the best command to teach a dog ever.
posted by supercres at 10:21 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

My cats refer to me as the female human, because that's the sort of thing they would know by smell, I think.
posted by Kurichina at 10:33 PM on July 19, 2013

I don't really call myself anything to my 3 cats per se, but when I'm referring to myself as how perhaps the cats would see me, it varies between 'their human', 'the bed hog'', or 'the one who knows how to open cans of noms'. Or, when on the way to the vet I'm simply the 'big meanie'.
posted by cgg at 10:33 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Any humans with which my cats are sufficiently familiar merit the moniker "Big Cat."
posted by invitapriore at 10:37 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I do not speak about myself in the third person to my cat. I hate it when other people refer to me as the cat's "mama" or whatever. Much as I love that little furry four-legged creature with daggers on the end of her feet, she did not come out of my vagina. If I had a baby, it would (presumably) be human. The use of terms like "adoption" around pets also weirds me out, because I was adopted and I feel like the looser bonds between people and their animals being referred to that way dilutes the seriousness of the human version. But I don't make a fuss about other people using that term. I've never actually mentioned my discomfort about it to anyone before now.

When I refer to my husband when talking to the cat, I call him "the other human" or "your other human". Sometimes I refer to us collectively as "the Sentients" or "the Bipedals".
posted by lollusc at 10:41 PM on July 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

I am Nosy's mama, my SO is his papa, my daughter is his other mama and regular guests get promoted to aunt/uncle regularly. We have decided his all purpose name for humans is 'Thumbs' especially when dinner is later than he thinks it should be. None of this is weird at all, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:45 PM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh you want to get weird? I'll give you weird. I refer to my partner in the same way that I refer to the animals, and often call them animal names that they are not. E.g. when he got home last night (I was on the phone, not home) I said to him "All the bunnies are together!" (referring to him and our two cats). I also use plenty of other animal names when I'm referring to him or the animals corporately.

He does the same thing. We also reference each other by physiological characteristics we think our pets might notice like "big nose" or "round head". We also refer to each other by descriptions of what animals are like, like "fuzzy" and "fluffy".

We ascribe human emotions and motivations to our animals, which isn't all that weird in our overall worldview, since we also frequently do the same with inanimate objects, like a dining room chair.

I don't think the mommy thing is all that weird in the grand scheme. Come up with something weirder to call yourself to your dog and maybe she'll stop doing it out of confusion (or, better, she'll start playing as well!).
posted by arnicae at 11:01 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am "mama" to my dogs. I obviously don't actually think that they are children but I don't have kids so I love them about as much as I could love anything, I think. I don't refer to myself as their mother at any other time, only when I'm talking to them.

To me, they are "widdle bitty puppy-wuppies" or similiar. Pic.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:04 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm "Aunt [Diminutive Version of my Real First Name]." So, suppose it says "Elizabeth" on my birth certificate, and I go by "Elizabeth" every day - to the cat I'm "Aunt Betsy."

I love the little dickens like she's my own flesh and blood child, but somehow I just can't make the step to "Mommy" or "Mama." Just not enough of a maternal type, I guess.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:21 PM on July 19, 2013

One of my cats has been with us since we got her and her late littermate as kittens. To that cat, I'm "Daddy". The other two cats in the household were already adults when they joined us and to them, I'm either "Hairy Man" or "Hairy Dude", both names which originated from a time when we had pet rats who would like to snuggle my goatee, and the names just stuck after that.

My girlfriend has always been the "Mommy" to all of our pets. We used to have a roommate, and we joked with the cats that we had gotten them a new person just to give them pettins, so somehow, she became the "Pet-y Lady" (sounds pretty insulting when you say it instead of reading it, but the name stuck). Our current roommate though, brought her own cat when she moved in, and she was "Mama" to that cat, so now she gets to be "Mama" to all the cats.
posted by radwolf76 at 11:37 PM on July 19, 2013

I mostly talk to the cat like I would a person, or, like a person I loved so much who was the best cat ever. So I refer to myself using first person pronouns and to my boyfriend by his name.

Other than the cat's name, I call him "buddy" and "cat" and "dude," as in "dude, I'm sorry, we're out of wet food right now," or "okay, cat, I'm headed to the grocery. do you want to stay in or go out?" or "oh, hey buddy, there you are. You are the best cat ever. Has anyone told you that today? I love you so much. Do you want to come inside with me and have some new wet food?"
posted by slidell at 11:39 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am CurlyHair Girl, my husband is PinkMan. Although John Parker, our dog, knows his own name and responds to it, I am pretty well convinced that he doesn't know ours and so uses basic descriptors of our heads when referring to us in his thoughts, which I narrate pretty much constantly.
posted by Failure31 at 11:48 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mom and Dad sometimes to our cats and dogs, though sometimes the old cat seems to think she's actually my mom ("here eat this, it's good for you" and drops dead bird on the floor). Though lately, inspired by the "sad cat diaries" (SOOO funny), we've started referring to ourselves as "the Authorities".

Our parents are grandparents, and the animals are their "furry grandchildren".

Our new human baby is sometimes the animals' brother or sometimes "your baby", as in "puppy, say hi to your baby", since he's becoming established as a member of the pack.
posted by pennypiper at 11:57 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Our parents are grandparents, and the animals are their "furry grandchildren".

Yeah, my mother refers to my cat and my sister's cat as "her grandkittens."

And funnily enough, she refers to herself as "Grammy" to her own cat.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:12 AM on July 20, 2013

I use "your person" when I talk to Lyle the dog, since it seems roughly parallel to "my dog". That said, I've referred to my human baby as "our baby" when talking to the dog, but that's just shorthand for "our family's baby", since he's part of the family.
posted by judith at 12:15 AM on July 20, 2013

I'm trying to think of situations in which I actually refer to myself as anything when talking to my aminals:

"Aminals! I'm hoooooome!"

"Get your freaking claws out of my leg you asshole!"

"Get off the table! Why do we keep having to have this conversation over and over?"

"Get lost, cat. This is my cuddle time. HE'S NOT YOUR HUSBAND."

"Stop eating my shoe you douchebag!"

So I guess it's I, me, mine. I never use parent terminology, I think of them more as fur-people than children.

In their minds, I think we are "cat feeder" (me) and "the good lap" (husband).
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 12:23 AM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

We are the hunams.
posted by phoenixy at 1:24 AM on July 20, 2013

The monkeys or primates. Husband is also known as "big footed food dropper"
posted by buzzieandzaza at 1:28 AM on July 20, 2013

Daddy and Mamá... as it turns out, though we call each other that in relationship to the dog, but not ourselves (we just don't refer to ourselves in third person). I do feel weird about it, although not as weird as I would feel if we had children. We didn't think about it beforehand, so that's just how it arose organically. If I were considering the idea of it in advance, I might have come up with something similar to what kids call their grandparents to distinguish them from their other grandparents... maybe something along the lines of meemer and pappoo or something, I don't know.

(We don't use given names because we literally don't use our given names unless we are talking about the other to an outside third party; we have persistent pet names for each other.)

The problem is really that we don't have the words in our lexicon to sufficiently articulate and differentiate all feelings and relationships – so we use the words closest to expressing the underlying feeling. You can love your partner, and love your child, and love your friend, and love your pet, and love ice cream, and those are all very different specific feelings that we use one word to describe. In the case of our dog, we have a specific and distinct feeling of love for this creature that lives with us and who is 100% dependent on us for her care, welfare, training, discipline, security, and emotional needs... and I think this is close enough to resembling a parent/child relationship that the words used to describe that kind of family connection are the ones that seem to come most naturally for many people.
posted by taz at 1:30 AM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

I am "momma" to the cats as in "your momma loves you little one". My husband is daddy as In "your daddy's going to feed you". My parents are grandma and grandad and our cat loving friends are Uncle Julian, etc. Yes we're weird and no we 're not going to have kids. As far as eccentricities go, it seems pretty harmless.
posted by hazyjane at 2:49 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

It's just me and my mother (yes, I still live with my mom) with our two cats. She's "mommy" (and refers to herself as such) and I'm not anything. Well, I'm me. I never refer to myself in the third person to them but she'll say things like "oh you're following kassila" or "he's looking for his kassila".

I find the whole "mom/dad" of pets much nicer than being called "owner" or something similar.
posted by kassila at 2:55 AM on July 20, 2013

To my fluffbutts I am Moi when unnerved ("Hé ho, Moi pas contente") and Je the rest of the time. When one of them draws a claw on me, I also like to remind them that I am twelve times bigger than they are. Mostly I just ask them how their days are going, how many crickets they've eaten, whether they've enjoyed their pigeon-gazing, that sort of thing. My black cat is pretty chatty so she always has a reply, and every few months she tries out different meows on me. (Currently she's in a "poor widdle me" stage that's hilarious because she has to like, sit there for a second, muster up a posture where she can hold back her well-developed lungs, and just barely open her mouth to let out a pitiful "meeeeeew". Then she relaxes, hops back onto her feet and is off mwapping and mrrowing full force again.)

I totally grok the parental names too, I do feel like their mom. After all, you clean up their pee and poo for their entire lives, they depend on you for food, water, medical care, etc., like Taz mentions too. I spontaneously call my two non-related cats "brother" and "sister", as in "go play with your brother," "awwww, did your sister divebomb you again?" So far it's just been easiest to go first-person with them, though. That said, I do live alone.
posted by fraula at 2:58 AM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

Ha! You can totally tell from the names who has cats and who has dogs. We have a cat so we are the big cats or the ham friends (when we have ham, or there is any vague possibility of ham, we automatically have an almost surgically-attached friend). I find the mum and dad thing understandable but not comfortable for us even though the cat lies in my arms with all feet in the air like a baby given any half chance.
posted by Dorothia at 3:02 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

The tel3mum is "Grandma" and I am "I". The cats refer to me as "The round-headed kid" and in fact, all of them have always called me that.
posted by tel3path at 3:15 AM on July 20, 2013

Mom and dad as in "go talk to mom about your walk, goofus." Also I kind of love the "friendbeast" terminology from this.
posted by Cocodrillo at 3:18 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cat owner here. I am Slave.

As in "all right Mitz, quit sounding like a tortured starved beast caught in a bear trap. Your slave will get your food once she's poured her coffee".
posted by Kerasia at 3:33 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

My cats and I call each other "friend."
posted by smirkyfodder at 3:40 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband and I are 'mama' and 'papa' to the cats we've had. E.g., "Mama loves you more than papa does" or "Come give mama/papa some cuddles!".

I don't really know where these titles came from, as I didn't grow up with a 'mama' or 'papa' myself (my human parents were mommy/mom and daddy/dad).

Our parents are the cats' 'grandparents' (e.g., "your American grandma" vs "your Scottish grandma") and our sibilings are aunts.

My sister has a female dog and my mom refers to that dog as her 'grand-dogger'. ;P

We're all a bit nutso for animals, but that is a trait I appreciate in myself and others.
posted by Halo in reverse at 4:38 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

We tend to refer to ourselves as I, but I have been known to call my husband my kitty-daddy.
posted by donut_princess at 5:14 AM on July 20, 2013

I call myself Mummy and my husband is Mr. Mrfuga0. Generally this isn't an issue, but I often get scolded for babytalking the animals, so I suppose the limits are whatever you deem them to be. If it bothers you, say something to her. If not, it's fairly harmless as verbal tics go.
posted by mrfuga0 at 5:21 AM on July 20, 2013

I talk to my cat like I talk to anyone. "I"
He's 11 years old. I wouldn't refer to myself as "Daddy" to an 11-year-old human.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:24 AM on July 20, 2013

I call my husband "Timmy" to the pets, and I think I mostly call myself by my informal name, although I don't refer to myself in the third person very often, so it's hard to be sure.

The exception is with one of our cats, who is super bonded to me and a wool-sucker to boot. She'll only suck on blankets when I'm lying down on the bed next to her, and she'll look for a spot that has her kneading right on me. Occasionally if I'm wearing something fleecy she'll nurse nurse on my clothing. There's clearly some mommy issue stuff going on there, so I do sometimes use the mommy word when talking to her about her "habit." It's not that I feel like her mom or view her as my child--it's more about how she sees me.
posted by drlith at 5:26 AM on July 20, 2013

If she starts treating them like children (e.g., dressing them up), then that's weird.

But how will my cat become the next star of the interwebz without a spiffy hat?
posted by yohko at 5:44 AM on July 20, 2013 [4 favorites]

This is a safe space right? I refer to myself as 'Mummy' to Jimmy my cat, 'New Mummy' to the Digby I catsit, and sometimes ask Jimmy if he is Mummy's boyfriend. All of this is obviously fine.

We know it is silly, that's kind of why we do it. Echoing some other answers, I never called my Mum 'mummy' even when I was really small.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 5:50 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

When I am using the high-pitched, squeal-y baby talk? Or the cooing secret language? Then it's Mama. When I'm the warden, it's "I" and "me".
posted by thinkpiece at 5:56 AM on July 20, 2013

I'm Mom to my cat. My best friends are the cat's Auntie E and Auntie C. Which means the pets in E's house and C's house are my cat's cousins.
posted by shiny blue object at 5:58 AM on July 20, 2013

We rotate between our names (or first person pronoun), mom/dad, the humans, and the alphas which mr kitkat further breaks down into "the alpha" (me apparently) and "alpha mate" (him).

Now that I think about it, the mom/dad usage probably came up for us because we literally raised our dog from puppyhood - we always say he has lifelong Puppy Stockholm Syndrome since we took him from his litter and pretty much forced him to bond with us instead. Not sure if we would still called ourselves mom/dad if we adopted an adult dog instead.

I am significantly more weirded out by referring to people as their pet's "owner". We tend to use "human" instead, as in "I am/you are [insert name of pet]'s human"
posted by kitkatcathy at 6:10 AM on July 20, 2013

She is Smitten, the Pippi Pie.

We are known as the Monkeys, sometimes with gendered suffixes (e.g., "Laugh while you can, Monkey Boy!").
posted by jammy at 6:16 AM on July 20, 2013

Amanda Hugnkiss
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 6:57 AM on July 20, 2013

My best friend calls herself "mom" and sometimes describes me as my cat's "mom". Around here, we refer to ourselves as "the humans", often "the worst humans in the world" or "stupid humans" ("yes, I am the worst human in the world because I won't let you go outside").

Obviously, there are situations where you need to describe yourself as your cat's "owner" - at the vet, to people who will think it really weird if you don't, etc. But I think most folks view that as a bad compromise since "my feline companion" sounds goofily new age and "I own this living being" sounds creepy. Perhaps it will be like words for person-you-live-with-in-a-serious-relationship-but-are-not-married-to - in the eighties it seemed very difficult to settle on a good locution ("boyfriend" not serious enough; "significant other" dorky, etc) and then suddenly everyone settled on "partner" and forgot that there ever was a problem.

"Food apes" is great.
posted by Frowner at 7:17 AM on July 20, 2013

Ticky has a Mum and Dad/Butler. He also has Grandparents (who acknowledge that their Grandson is a furry beast). My folks are Grandma and Granpa, my wife's folks are Yéye and Nǎinai.
posted by arcticseal at 7:19 AM on July 20, 2013

Because I am not the Mother of Cats, I have on occasion had to inform people that we are just our cat's roommates, not their parents.
posted by velebita at 7:25 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am "The Lady" and my husband is "The Man". As in, "Go see The Man if you want a snack!" and "Maybe The Lady will give you some cookies!"

Since we spend a lot of time doing voice-overs for our pets (dogs and cats) we often shorten that to "Lady". So, if my husband is providing a voice for our dog, he'll say something like, "Lady? I'm gonna' need a snack over here!"

It's awesome when one of us forgets that we have company over and we start using a squeaky voice to say, "Hey, Lady? I'm just going to sit here and lick my belly for a while.." or something equally as weird.
posted by VioletU at 7:28 AM on July 20, 2013


I am "that bitch that takes up space in the house."
posted by Lucinda at 8:32 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

I should add that, over time, some of the cats have learned my real name. The tel3mum was in the next room, doing some cleaning. Fluffy [1] of blessed memory approached, and I heard the tel3mum saying, "No, I'm busy right now. Why don't you go and see tel3path? I expect tel3path will give you a cuddle."

The next thing I heard was a soft thud of a cat jumping off a chair, followed by little feet running along the hallway and my door creaking open. Exactly as suggested, Fluffy presented herself for a cuddle.

They can follow instructions remarkably well, I find, if the instructions are for doing something they want to do.

[1] That was her name. We didn't give her that name. It was someone else. Is that clear.
posted by tel3path at 8:54 AM on July 20, 2013 [7 favorites]

My parents refer to themselves as Mr Surname and Mrs Surname to their dog..
posted by Dorothea_in_Rome at 9:05 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

i love this thread so much.

when we're vocalizing malcom reynolds' thoughts, we're "guise, you guise" - so "guise you guise, srsly, it's time to eat. i don't know clocks but guise. srsly." there's only 3 of us in the house, me my husband and the cat, so we also use a lot of gendered pronouns "mr. crustybutt, you're gonna hafta ask him for ham because you know i never give you any" or "where'd she go?? better go find her!"

we don't really use each others names unless referring to the other one to a third party so it feels really weird for mal to "call" us that. we're not the mommy and daddy types and he's sort of like a crotchety roommate without thumbs more than a baby. i guess there's also a fair amount of human/monkey/ape/thumb-haver when referring to ourselves from the point of view of our cat. also, when he's a grumpy kitty we're jerk/asshole/fuckwad etc.
posted by nadawi at 9:21 AM on July 20, 2013 [7 favorites]

Obviously, there are situations where you need to describe yourself as your cat's "owner" - at the vet,

IIRC, when I ran into one of my vet's techs at Target, she greeted me as "Nellie's Mommy."

IAIRC, I knew both Nellie's feline birth parents. I refer to them as "Mama Cat" and "Daddy Cat." (Daddy Cat is also Grandpa Cat.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:28 AM on July 20, 2013

I've had pets almost my entire life, but I never did the mom and dad thing until my partner moved in 4 years ago. I used to hate myself a little each time I said it, but couldn't stop. Even worse, our 2 year old cat is "the baby," and we'll refer to them as brothers. It's awful. One of them even has a girlfriend (a pink stuffed mouse that he loves). We're the worst.
posted by amarynth at 9:33 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

I am "Momma" and sometimes "your catmom" (as in, "Listen to your catmom, she is saying your bowl is full so you should stop whining"). I don't usually refer to them as siblings, as none of my three are actually related, and two seem to be madly in love with each other. Collectively, they are the "kiddos" or the "kitty crew." My boyfriend is simply [first name] but if we get married he would become "Daddy". When my mom calls, she always asks, "How are the kids?" which will become confusing if I do ever have children. She also refers to them as her "grandcats" and is a very proud "grandmom" to them.
posted by Fuego at 9:48 AM on July 20, 2013

We will use "mommy" but also refer to ourselves as "humans," pronounced the way a Ferengi would.
posted by chaiminda at 10:22 AM on July 20, 2013

When I was a kid, the dog knew all family and extended family members by first names. When I was a parent, I did not refer to myself by anything in particular, but of course, all my kids called me Mom, and when talking to the dogs would refer to me as Mom, but I still didn't refer to myself that way.

Fast forward a few decades. Current hubby and I have totally lost our minds in retirement. The first dog we got together, "Punkybutt" refers to us as Mama and Papa. We tell him, Papa is taking you on the walk. Mama has a treat for you. Etc. We also have a huge cat, and I am Mama to cat, but hubby is "the Big Cat". And, yes, Punkybutt has a wardrobe. And a bucket full of toys. And we make our plans around him i.e. "it's too warm to take PB with us to town, we will have to wait until tonight, or tomorrow". We're nuts.

We refer to them to each other as brothers. As in, stop being mean t your brother,. Yep, sibling rivalry in the four legged form. Also, I am "auntie batikrose" to more dogs than I can count. I think partly it's that whole retired RV'er culture we live in, though. This tends to be the norm rather than the outlier.
posted by batikrose at 10:24 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

The "parent" language weirds me out, and I am referred to as The Mistress re: the dog.
posted by Riverine at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2013

I think we sort of group the cats as siblings to our daughter, so we're "mama" and "daddy." It's been a while, but I think we referred to ourselves by first names, or other nicknames that we use for each other, before we were parents.
posted by upatree at 10:30 AM on July 20, 2013

Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey: "Big Monkey & Smaller Monkey. When I'm annoyed with them, I am Thumb-Haver, Bringer of Food Whom They Are Insufficiently Appeasing."

Also sometimes Mama Monkey and Daddy Monkey (fwiw, neither of us grew up using "mama" or "daddy" for our parents) or "the humans"/"your humans"/"[Name]'s humans". As in "Penny's humans love the Penny-girl, yes we do!"

The phrase "your mother" refers unambiguously to Bella: "Look out, Penny, your mother's coming to jump you!"
posted by Lexica at 10:33 AM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here, all bipeds are known as "apes"

Apes come in two main variants:-
1) Slave apes
2) Apes to be ignored
posted by Arqa at 10:50 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

The husband and I are also monkeys. He is Mr. Monkey, I am Mrs. Monkey. My in-laws are Mrs. Cookielady and Mister Mrs. Cookielady. Neighbors are Miz Helen, Mister Steeeeeve, etc.

I'm really not sure why so formal.
posted by mon-ma-tron at 11:05 AM on July 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am "Lady" and my husband is "Other Lady".

In my mind, the dog has a limited vocabulary.
The cat doesn't care who we are, as long as we submit to his desires.
posted by coolsara at 11:05 AM on July 20, 2013 [3 favorites]

My partner and myself don't refer to ourselves in the third person to the animals, and we use our names. so it's "Where's oneirodynia?" or "Go get oneirodynia!" Occasionally my partner says "your mistress" to the dog, in reference to me. We just generally use language as if she's another human adult who likes to kill small stuffed animals, eat kibble, and pee outside.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:43 AM on July 20, 2013

My boyfriend and I are "Mommy and Daddy" to our dog. Although we generally refer to ourselves in first person and the other one in third person when we talk to him. ("Linus, Daddy wants to take you for a walk" would come from me, not my boyfriend, for example.)
posted by SisterHavana at 11:49 AM on July 20, 2013

I am "mommy" to my cats, and they think of me as "the foolish human."
posted by feste at 12:20 PM on July 20, 2013

SO is Papa (pronounced as they do in Downtown Abbey, with the exclamation point on the end ); I am Mom.

But when voicing the dog's thoughts/utterances, we generally have her say "human."
This is us, all day.
posted by sm1tten at 12:30 PM on July 20, 2013

I'm Mom to my dog. I refer to friends of mine as Auntie Firstname and Uncle Firstname.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 12:50 PM on July 20, 2013

I am "mumma" to my cat, as in, "Get over here and sit on mumma," or "Mumma's goin' out; don't barf on the couch while I'm gone."

My ex boyfriend was "kitty papa." Current boyfriend is "The Furry Human." (As in, "please don't walk all over the Furry Human's balls.")
posted by like_a_friend at 12:51 PM on July 20, 2013

I'm The Lady. The mommy stuff creeps me out. I agree with whoever said that the cats are way more like asshole roommates than children.

I really miss my ex-boyfriend's cat Li'l Scratchy, though, because in our epic cat/human mutual admiration society I called him Scratchmo (he had the rusty meow of an old blues man) and he called me Pork Chop (there was a lot of licking involved.)
posted by MsMolly at 1:33 PM on July 20, 2013

Husband is The Big One, and I am The Little One. I have heard folks use mom/dad, but never heard of all this monkey business.
posted by oomny at 4:04 PM on July 20, 2013

The mister is "papí" (poppy) because he named himself that to the beasties and he calls me "mum" to the pets. I don't call myself anything. My mum is "Gran" to her grandkids and our pets. She calls our dog "her grandogger". It is kind of odd but harmless.

We don't have any kids.
posted by deborah at 4:36 PM on July 20, 2013

Dad/Daddy. And now that I put that out there on the internet... it sounds kind of creepy.
posted by one4themoment at 5:03 PM on July 20, 2013

My dogs give me honorifics: I am The Lady of the Lake, The Mistress of Relentless Hounds, The Momma Who Gives ALL the Best Things. Yes, I said it. It is NOT OK for anyone else to call me their Momma. Everrrrrrrrrrrr.

I'm not their owner, either. We are companions. Call us partners if we're at the vet or out and about.

My cats call me Buddy or Thumbs.

Collectively, my crew is called possums, wombats and muppets.

Your girlfriend is in no way weird -- no more and perhaps less than the rest of us.
posted by vers at 5:14 PM on July 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I talk in 3rd person to the cat, 2 dogs & baby. So I'm mom/momma/mommy to them all. My parents are grandma & pop-pop to all of them. My brothers are uncles. And baby's nickname is puppy (and rarely kitty cat).
posted by bluesapphires at 5:43 PM on July 20, 2013

To our semi-feral kitty, who has an entire crew of firefighters at his beck and call, all humans are The Perpetually Inadequate Staff Who Sometimes Need to be Swatted Lest They Forget Who Rules the Roost.
posted by Kibby at 10:31 PM on July 20, 2013

my husband started referring to me as "Mom" to the cats about six months after we got our first one, as in "Go bug Mom, I already fed you" to a meowing pest. He's now "Dad", e.g. "Go ask Dad if you can go for a walk" (they're both harness trained). We don't have kids. It doesn't feel weird to me, although I've never referred to myself in parental terms to pets or animals before (despite growing up on a farm and living with many, many pets throughout the years).

To the cats themselves, aside from their given names, we refer to them as a string of silly endearments and mild epithets, depending on necessity. "KITTIES!! WE'RE HOME" (in enthusiastic tween-girl high-pitched voices) is a daily occurrence. "Yo dickhead! Don't claw the rug!" is fairly common. We refer to the squirt bottle as "The Naughty Gun" and it usually only takes mentioning it aloud to halt the behavior in question, as in "Quit clawing the rug or Mom's gonna get the Naughty Gun!"

The cats, when they're bothered to think of us at all, probably think of us as "the small female" or "the large male" and collectively as "the assholes who refuse to feed us at 3AM".

I don't think using parental terms is strange, and the more I think on it, the more "owner" makes me feel a bit hinky.
posted by lonefrontranger at 11:19 PM on July 20, 2013

It's never dawned on my cat to talk to me, and vice-versa.

The dog is a much different story. He won't shut up. I call myself MOM, and he knows who that is. It is always funny when he and I are out about town and somebody says something like "are you daddies dog?" to us. He knows who that is too...and without fail, he's alert and ready to find daddy cause he heard his name.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 12:54 AM on July 21, 2013

i would like to note that the Cat in Red Dwarf refers regularly to Lister (the human) as "Monkey"...
posted by jammy at 6:21 AM on July 21, 2013

We're our cats' Cat Mom and Dad, but my husband thinks they think of us as "Nice Lady" and "Sidekick."
posted by magicbus at 6:50 AM on July 21, 2013

"Me" or "I".
posted by Decani at 9:35 AM on July 21, 2013

We just adopted a senior cat less than a week ago, so it remains to be seen how we'll refer to ourselves. I don't see "mom" or "dad" happening, though—even if it were a baby kitteh.

Also, "fur-babies" creeps me right the eff out.
posted by feistycakes at 1:33 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Never thought about it. "Owner" seems weird and subjugates the animal since you can't own another being. "Caretaker" or simply say that the animals are my responsibility. (Even saying "pets" is weird to me, pet is what you do to an animal, not what they are.)

My mother used to refer to me as my cat's mistress. "Oh are you looking for your mistress?" English is not her first language but she is 150% fluent, and while an unconventional choice, it kind of works.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:11 PM on July 21, 2013

I speak to the animals as I do other people, so never in the third person. I am a vet tech and usually refer to owners as Fluffy's mom and dad or as Fluffy's people.
posted by OsoMeaty at 8:22 PM on July 21, 2013

I call myself THUMBS because that's the difference between me and them. Opposable thumbs. I got 'em and I flaunt 'em.
posted by 2oh1 at 9:22 PM on July 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't refer to myself in the third person when talking to my cats. I do have heaps of pet names for them, some of which I would sometimes also use with my partner at the time. Let's just say that she was not impressed.
posted by moody cow at 1:26 AM on July 22, 2013

We have two cats. One, The Old One, my son has literally grown up with, since he was 6 when we got her and he is now 24. They have a very special relationship. The Other One, who we brought in from The Outside about 2 years ago, we love dearly, but do not have the same level of bonding with, yet. The Old One, I often refer to as my son's sister or sibling (he is in reality, an only child). She will find him in the house and pester him to chase her until she is satisfied, on a daily basis. She refers to us collectively, as the Puny Humans. My son is The Boy.

The Other One, is BC (Brown Cat, Big Cat) and is also known as PTSD Cat, because she is still sort of jumpy and nervous, even after being taken in a couple of years ago. She lived in our backyard with the other ferals (Momcat, Max* and Phoebe - all fixed and fed regularly), until we had a vacancy in the house (we are a two cat in the house type of family - Sneak went to the big cat ranch in the sky). She doesn't refer to us as anything that I know of, and we don't really call ourselves anything to her but I or me, but she just EXUDES this fog of gratefulness towards us most of the time. She was clearly someone's love before she somehow found herself in the Outside and she hated it there. She wasn't chipped and we never did find out where she came from or how she managed to get Outside, but she was clearly meant to be an inside cat.

*Maximum, Maximum Cat, Max Power, Maximillion, &etc.
posted by jvilter at 5:05 AM on July 22, 2013

Mama. Partially because the vet call's me "pointycat's mom" and partially because when he was a akitten, he had a two syllable meow that sounded creepily like "mama".

Other adults (like my roommate) are Miss Firstname or Mr Firtstname.
posted by pointystick at 6:09 AM on July 22, 2013

OsoMeaty: I am a vet tech and usually refer to owners as Fluffy's mom and dad or as Fluffy's people.

Yeah, I usually try to go with "person" or "people", but "Mom and Dad/Moms/Dads" is definitely the default. Sometimes people are amused by it, and very rarely someone will actually take offense and prefer "Owner" or "Companion". I also try to avoid the word "pet" in referring to an animal and go with "dog" or "cat" or "patient", as in "What is the patient's name?" as opposed to "What is your pet's name?"

Also, it always strikes me as funny that "Fluffy" is the generic animal name for most people in Vet Medicine. I wonder when that took over from "Rover" or "Spot"?
posted by Rock Steady at 7:39 AM on July 22, 2013

My fiancee and I are 'the boy' and 'the girl' to our dogs.
posted by MidsizeBlowfish at 12:58 PM on July 22, 2013

I told my boyfriend that I would prefer it if he did not refer to me as "Mom" when talking to the cats (as in "Go find Mom."), because I'd rather he not think of me as a maternal figure, but rather as a sexy girlfriend type.

Also, we have a very soft kitty bed that they use primarily for kneading and only secondarily for sleeping, and I call that "the mommy" because that's where they self-soothe.

But I also don't refer to them as my pets or say that I own them. We are each other's companion animals.
posted by janey47 at 4:46 PM on July 22, 2013

I try to look at it from the dog's perspective. I think "mom and dad" are weird, and I once heard a person refer to his dog as "my son". That was SUPER weird and creepy. Obviously dogs don't understand english, but we think he'd have the concept of "humans" and "dogs", which for fun we refer to as "big ones" and "me ones". She is "female big one", I am "male big one", but often it's just "find the female" or "where's the male?"
posted by RobotNinja at 10:24 AM on July 28, 2013

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