Friday, October 05, 2007

Kids and Cats

Mademoiselle Julie Manet with cat - Pierre-Auguste RenoirAbel Cheng from wrote the other day to invite me to guest blog on kids and cats.

Thing is, Au is not keen on strangers but he's particularly wary of kids.

Children, Au believes, will kick you, hit you, or at the very least scream at the tops of their lungs while they yank your tail.

But there are exceptions. When Au met Shelly a young friend of ours who spoke gently and stroked softly, he lay at her feet, purring like an engine.

The problem is that most of the kids we meet have no pets themselves. In fact, their city slicker parents encourage them to be afraid of cats, dogs, birds, and all other living creatures.

So when these poor babes see a friendly dog or cat approach, they scream, throw stones or worse. they can't help it; they're educated that way.

While Au avoids kids who aren't already animal lovers, Scoop used to do his bit for the community by sitting very still while I introduced some nervous young sprog to him.

I remember teaching 6 year old Gavin how to stroke Scoop very gently with an open hand from head to tail, shushing him when he talked too loudly and explaining animals like soft voices.

We also talked about little telltale signs, like cats being happy when they purred but angry when they growled or hissed.

Gavin liked stroking Scoop and felt very important teaching his little sister what he'd learned. Their mum was chuffed but less so when she realised both kids enjoyed meeting Scoop so much they wanted a pet of their own!

I think kids need pets. Taking care of an animal, bonding with it, learning how to communicate without words... all of these are important lessons.

Also, I can't imagine what it's like to live life disconnected from the natural world.

PS The picture is "Mademoiselle Julie Manet with cat" painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.


THE ZOO said...

its soo sad that these kids dont know any better and will have kids and teach their kids to be scared etc.... i was raised around aminls my whole lifs and thought of them as siblings and couldnt imagine not loving animals.
its nnice you could teach some kids to know better.

Dizzyjules said...

i'm glad my parents never denied my brother & i of animal contact. i remember growing up with a menagerie of house pets ranging from dogs, rabbits, birds, chickens, turkey & ducks to tortoises & fish...mind you, I've been living in KL all my life. i sure didn't relish being chased by some of the fiercer chickens but looking back i wouldn't have it any other way!!

i have friends who are absolutely terrified of house look at my little dog or fat cat & they'll freeze up.

i feel really sorry for them as they've missed out the best & most reliable therapy any human being can ever have. my pets have been some of my best companions, agony aunts, stress busters, play buddies & comic acts all rolled up into one.