My family recently welcomed a kitten into our home. I have always been a dog person, as has my husband. For over two years, though, my oldest has wanted a cat. I remember a short time in my life where I wanted a cat and did not receive one so I started suggesting that we get her one. Just after Jane's ninth birthday, a little black kitten showed up on my Facebook feed needing to be rescued and my husband could no longer resist. Lela is now part of our family.
Let me just state what should have been obvious, cats are very different from dogs. I had to bathe Lela when we brought her home from animal control. I put her in the tub and she immediately jumped out. A puppy that size could not have done that. Her ability to climb amazes and entertains us all. Her ability to go so many places regularly surprises us.
I was hoping Lela would help Jane learn some responsibility and she has. Lela stays in Jane's room when no one is home. That is also where her things are such as litter box, cat condo, and food bowl. Jane has always kept quite the messy room. She still does but when reminded to clean up as it is bad for Lela, she does it with almost no issues. She also is learning to clean the litter box daily and make sure Lela has food and water. I also regularly clean the litter box (which was not as gross as I thought it would be), check on the food and water, and monitor Jane's room. I realize Jane is only nine and I can't expect her to take on full responsibility for another living thing. I have been pleasantly surprised though how well Jane has been doing with Lela. She has been a welcome addition into our home.
I will add that I hope someone does not read this and think they should get their kids a pet and it will automatically help them learn responsibility. When you adopt a pet, you have to be ready for anything. You can't adopt them hoping your kid does a great job with the animal and then when they don't, take it back to the shelter. This is not fair to your family nor the animal. We welcomed Lela into the home fully anticipating having to do a lot for her and we were okay with that.
Stefanie F. Pisarkiewicz, LPC
Experience and information from a counselor and mother- sharing her two cents on children and teens.