Cats and Kids

Jayden and Lily

Jayden and Lily

Small people like small animals. And some small animals like kids. Lily, our year-old torbi, loves having children in the house. She also likes to sit on my desk, peer out the window and watch the kids next door at play. If she hears their voices or the squeaky wheels of their tricycles, she rushes to her spot so she can observe them.

Lily has two special friends: our grandchildren, Alyzay (3) and Jayden (5). Alyzay was two when first introduced to 8-week old Lily and it was love at first sight for both of them. No matter what Lily is doing, when she hears Alyzay’s voice, she rushes to the door to greet her. And then she follows her everywhere she goes. She sits in the midst of Alyzay’s craft and art projects with her, she shares Alyzay’s makeshift tents, she hangs out in the computer room when Alyzay is playing computer games.

Alyzay watches out for Lily. The 3-year-old was here one day when we had loud thunder. She saw how the thunder frightened Lily. A few weeks later, while Alyzay was here, I turned on the vacuum cleaner. Alyzay came tearing out of the computer room into the living room yelling, “I have to get Lily, she’s scared!” She thought the sound of the vacuum cleaner would probably frighten Lily as the sound of the thunder had and she jumped right into action to help her furry friend.

We weren’t sure how Jayden would relate to a small kitten. When he first met Lily, we were told to keep a close eye on him as he is pretty rough with the family’s dogs. But from day one, Jayden and Lily seemed to have a special agreement—I won’t hurt you if you don’t hurt me. And Jayden has been nothing but gentle and sweet with Lily all of her young life.

Jayden tends to throw things—like alphabet blocks, small toys, etc. And it has been a worry that he would fling something in Lily’s direction. On the contrary, if he throws something, it is always in the opposite direction of where Lily is sitting. Jayden is not verbal, yet. But he sure seems to have a deep understanding of many things and one of them seems to be that he loves little Lily and he does not want to harm her. In fact, he barely touches her. When we encourage him to pet her, he places his hand about an inch above her fur and moves it back and forth—never actually touching her. When he relates to her, he reaches out slowly toward her with his face until they touch noses. Then Jayden giggles—probably because Lily’s whiskers tickle.

Children definitely need supervision with small animals of any kind. And they need guidance while they’re learning about how to behave around a kitten, puppy or even a full-grown cat. And I believe that the child/pet relationship is an important one. Can you recall, for example, some of your childhood memories involving cats and/or dogs? Most of us can.

In my latest book of cat stories, Catscapades, True Cat Tales, I write about what cats can teach us. One vignette has to do with the mutual attachment of a child and a kitten. “Gomer, a black and white kitten, taught two families a lesson in how to be true to oneself, when he chose to be where he wanted to be. Gomer had a home, but he preferred spending time several blocks away with Maria, who was just a toddler then. After taking him home day after day for several months, Maria’s family and Gomer’s family agreed to let him stay where he wanted to be. Gomer and Maria have been inseparable pals for nearly ten years.”

Order your copy of Cascapades, True Cat Tales today and read over 40 additional stories and vignettes featuring charming, mischievous, humorous and delightful cats and kittens.

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