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Thanks in Part to Our Cats, I've Raised Kids Who Are Compassionate Animal-Lovers

When the time comes, my teenagers will be responsible pet parents of their own.

 |  Feb 13th 2014  |   3 Contributions


My human kids, Ben and Katie, are ages 16 and almost 18 years old. In other words, they're about ready to fly the coop. At this point in my motherhood career, I'm feeling retrospective. By now, my husband and I have passed on to them most of what is teachable. In some countries, they'd be living on their own by now, but I still think of them as my "babies." I suppose I always will.

Ben and Katie have never known our home without a cat.

I'm exceedingly proud of my children. They're good students, have great senses of humor and generous spirits. Certainly I've had moments when I want to yank my hair out, lock them in their rooms and throw away the key, but for the most part they've been pretty easy kids. I've always felt especially grateful for their compassionate hearts and love of animals. They've grown up with cats, and we've always treated our kitties like members of the family. Both kids learned how to properly handle cats early on, and were assigned age-appropriate tasks to help care for their feline siblings.

Phoebe looks cranky, but she loves snuggles from her sister.

From an early age, our kids have volunteered in one capacity or another. When given the choice of charities to support, they generally chose animal-related ones. When I've worked with area rescues on projects for my own blog, they've wanted to tag along, help and -- of course -- play with the kitties. In addition to animal-related volunteering, we've also volunteered in homeless family shelters. This was a huge eye-opener for my kids, who've always had a home of their own and stability.

I have to believe reaching out to help others in need is part of the reason they've become such compassionate people. Over the years, their teachers have told us they often befriend the kids who are shy or being bullied. And Ben has always been called a "leader." You know, that's what we need more in the world: compassionate leaders.

Ben takes a break to play with Cosmo.

Now that they're teenagers, one of our conversations is about what kind of animal they'd like to eventually adopt. My son has always had a thing for big orange tabbies. He wants to adopt one and name him Taco. My daughter loves any cat who's cute, which means she'd probably take in every cat with whom she comes in contact! We talk about proper cat care, and why it's important to wait until you can both afford the cat and have the adequate time to spend with him or her. College students are many times short on both money and time. Maybe begin with fish.

I think it'd be impossible to even guesstimate how many hours we've spent looking at photos, videos and TV shows that feature adorable animals. I've always been one to easily tumble down the rabbit hole of cute animal pics, and it appears I've successfully passed along that gene. 

Ben cuddles Saffy while looking at cute cat photos.

The other day my son raced downstairs to my desk because he couldn't wait to show me a video he'd taken of our tuxie, Cosmo. He constantly takes photos of our cats, even placed cute animal wallpaper images on his desktop. His love of cats has now affected his girlfriend, who has a photo of one of our cats as her phone wallpaper. I love that he'd sometimes rather look at cute cat photos on Reddit than play video games. The key word there is "sometimes." He's still a teenage boy. 

Phoebe is always around to "help" Katie.

My daughter is a gifted artist and animator, and most of her creations are animal characters. She's a high school senior and gets to leave school at noon. We've developed this great routine of eating lunch together and watching Too Cute Kittens on Netflix. We can barely handle those adorable little kitties! Since she was a wee girl, we've squealed together (sometimes rather loudly) when we see any squee-worthy animals, especially cats.

I just love watching Ben and Katie become young adults who care about other living beings, and still enjoy marveling over the cuteness of animals. I just know they will grow into respectful, responsible, compassionate pet parents all on their own some day. And I couldn't feel any prouder.

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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (birthed right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food. 

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