Sometimes when I get asked how many kids I have, I want to say 4. One human and 3 fur-babies. I love my pets the same way I love everyone else in my family, because they are family. My kitties have always been my “kids.” No, I am not one of those people who compares caring for pets to caring for children. They are completely different. But I will do anything for my pets the same way I would do anything for my child. Not only is having a pet beneficial for adults, it can also be beneficial for children too. Caring for a pet can teach a child so many different things.
Having a pet is a wonderful way to teach children how to treat other beings. Animals are not just objects, they have feelings too. I try to teach my son to be gentle to our cats and to show him that they are not toys. When he gets rough with them or tries to pin them down, we show him that the kitties like to be pet gently instead.
Pets can often be our children’s first siblings and/or friends. What a terrific way to create a long-lasting relationship. This not only benefits the kids, but the pets too. Nobody wants to be lonely. A pet is a fantastic way to start building relationships. My son loves watching our cats and playing with them (when they let him).
When I was growing up, we had a cat. Part of our chore routine was feeding him and cleaning the litter box. Although my sister and I grumbled about doing these things as kids, it’s a simple way to teach kids responsibility. There are so many different things pets need to be taken care of. Feeding, brushing, cleaning litter boxes, or taking a dog for a walk are important yet simple tasks that show kids how to care for other beings.
I have always had a pet in my life since I was a child. Not having one would be so foreign to me. My kitties are always there when I’m having a difficult day or need a good laugh. My oldest, Nala, has been with me through thick and thin. Two marriages, one divorce, and 6 houses. She knows when I need cheering up and has been my son’s protector ever since I found out I was pregnant. In fact, I have one cat purring on my lap as I’m writing this, and the others are snuggled on the couch. Our cats truly are a part of our family. Someday when we get a dog (hint, hint dear husband), they will be a major part of our family as well.
Not sure where to start? Start out small. Get a fish or a hamster. Although they are not as cuddly as cats or dogs, they still need their tanks or cages cleaned and to be fed. They would be the perfect way to show your children responsibility on a smaller scale. You can also volunteer at a local animal shelter, or even volunteer to be a foster family for a pet in need. This is a safe way to get acquainted with animals and see what option is best for your family.