Back at Thanksgiving, I blogged about how a kitty cat was at the top of my daughter’s Christmas wish list. At the time, my husband and I were still discussing whether or not she and our family were ready for a pet. Though the final decision required much deliberation and a little disagreement, an adorable female calico kitten joined our family a few days before Christmas Eve. Liv was rendered joyously speechless when I walked into the house with the pet she had been longing for in my arms.
As a matter of fact, I cried when I first saw her myself. I’m biased, but I think her picture speaks for itself. I’ve saved this one as my computer backdrop. In short, I’m as in love with her as Liv is. Now that I have her, I realize how much I missed having a pet in the house. Much of the holiday was spent with each of us holding her and watching her play. The way she has brought our family together makes it feel a little more like a home.
Skylar not only looks like a lady, for the most part she acts like one. She’s sweet, gentle and loving. If you ask nicely, she’ll give you a kiss with her sandpaper tongue. If you aren’t paying her enough attention, she’ll lay a paw on your arm to get it. She’s an utter cuddle cat. Unless there’s food around. Then she morphs into a manic cat on a mission. In a flash she leaps from chair to chair onto the kitchen table on the quest for a nibble of whatever her humans are eating. “What? I just want a sip,” she’s saying in the above shot.
Finding ways to manage this one quirk in Skylar’s behavior is all a part of the adjustment process for our family. Thankfully, the concerns about whether my younger children could care for and treat a pet responsibly and respectfully have not been much of an issue. So far, they’re doing well. I suspect it’s because they are now old enough to fully understand the expectations. And the consequences if they aren’t kind to the cat (they had to wait almost two years before we tried having a pet again after our first failed attempt).
Unfortunately, we are having some issues with how the older boys treat the cat. Despite the fact that they obviously adore her, they don’t seem to be able to approach her without assuming a menacing crouch or making hissing noises. When they do pick her up, they tend to hold her high above their heads like they’re about to drop her. Confused and more than a little perturbed by this, I asked them not to do it. One response was, “We always did this with our other cats. They liked it.” Somehow I doubt that. Now I’m doing a little challenging behavior management with them and coaching them on how to play with Skylar in a way that is not only fun for them, but for her too.
One of the reasons I felt so strongly about the children having a pet was that I believe there are valuable lessons to be learned from being responsible for the well being of another living creature. I’m discovering that these lessons aren’t just for young children. Sometimes older children have to learn appropriate behaviors or unlearn inappropriate ones as well.
Being given this valuable opportunity to help my stepsons develop their nurturing side is another reason I’m so glad Liv got a kitty cat for Christmas.