I know that kids will say almost anything to convince a parent to bring home a pet. Yes, they cry, they WILL water and feed and walk it. And, yes, they insist, they WILL love it and tend to it and be good pet owners. So, with apprehensive hearts, my husband and I said yes, and brought home a kitten.
But we have some cat baggage.
Let me explain. Two years ago, our beloved cat, Frances died. He was legendary in our neighborhood and local veterinarian office for his amazing feats against death. For example, one time an owl took off with Francis in his grip, but our loony cat fought the owl off – in mid-air – and survived a 20-foot fall before sauntering indoors and demanding to be pet and given kitty treats. He was four feet long from the tip of his nose to the tip of his tail and every solid inch of him was chalk full of character and sweetness. But then he had a stroke and we had to put him down.
Until you lose a beloved pet, there are no real words for the feelings of loss that one experiences. My kids, unfortunately, discovered this the hard way. With a home full of broken hearts, we grieved our epic loss.
Teaching Kids Responsibility with Pets
That was two years ago. Today, we are in the middle of kitten mania, and WHOA NELLY! I had forgotten about how rambunctious and demanding kittens can be. If you were to peek in my house right now, you’d see two cowering dogs who are afraid of a 12 week old kitten because she loves to claw and bite her way through literally everything.
My husband and I have scabs from scratches across out feet, ankles, hands, wrists, and forearms. My couch looks like the Thunder Dome. My son’s favorite teddy bear, Mr. Paddington, has been absconded by the kitten who pretend nurses on it, which, our vet tells us, is a sign that the people we got her from took her from her mother far too soon.
And while I adore our new little fuzz ball, there are a few things that I wish I had remembered — and prepared for— before saying yes to a hellion kitten.
Kittens are high energy all day. And night.
I’m losing sleep these days because our kitten likes to chase my feet under the blankets while I sleep. She also like to pounce on my hair, bite my nose, and attack my fingers. It’s flipping exhausting.
I Thought I Was A Pet Person, but I Was Wrong
Kittens poop, which dogs and kids apparently love
We have a very small house with few options on where to put a litter box, so we opted for the bathroom, which now has a baby gate across the threshold because it turns out that dogs love to eat cat poop. And toddlers seem to think that litter is a fun sensory experiment. God help me.
Kitten are painful
Did I mention all the clawing and biting? Our kitten has developed a love of climbing us, she jumps up onto our legs and scales our bodies leaving a perforated trail of scratches. My husband and I are starting to look like victims of smallpox.
Our kids are happy but not helpful
Remember all the reaching and praying for a new kitten I mentioned? Well, it was short lived. Once our kids realized that having a pet requires constant care (that they said they would provide) things got a little too real. That’s ok, they give our kitten tons of love and playtime, which is really the whole point anyway. Besides, moms are supposed to be on poop/litter/food duty, right?
Bringing a new pet into our home was the right choice for our family. If you’re thinking of adopting a new furry love, consider reaching out to a local shelter where lots of sweet animals are desperately looking for a forever home. You can contact the Humane Society to find a location near you.