I say this a lot–I don’t have kids, I have cats.
Some people laugh at that, as if they couldn’t possibly be the same thing. And I’ll admit that my cats lead shorter life spans, will never grow up to learn to speak, and certainly won’t be around to take care of me when I get old. But in the meantime, they keep me calm when I’m stressed, they have more personality than people give them credit for, and they’re cute, dang it.
Unfortunately, my cats also have health problems.