You see that cute little kitten at the shelter and can’t resist. Visions of Kitty growing up with your kids dance in your head, and look forward to years and years of playtime and cuddles.
And then reality hits. Your two year old can’t resist grabbing the kitten by the tail. Your four year old gets scratched or even bit because they just wanted to pet Kitty’s tummy. Your ten year old that promised to take care of Kitty every day leaves the litterbox until it’s overflowing, and you end up feeding the cat instead.
Kitty isn’t so cute and playful anymore. Kitty has started destroying the furniture and peeing in the bed. So you return the cat to the shelter thinking that you got a bad deal.
That’s the nightmare scenario, and unfortunately, it happens all too often at The Marshmallow Foundation. You can’t say we didn’t warn you, and try to teach you how to introduce Kitty to your kiddo and to the other pets successfully. We told you to put Kitty in a small room by herself for a few days to let her decompress, and to slowly introduce her to the family over a two week period. We told you how to work with your child to respect Kitty and how to recognize when she’s had enough.
The problem isn’t Kitty. It’s you. Yes, look in the mirror and see who is responsible for this mess. Having a pet is a great teaching moment for your kids. You can teach them respect for all living creatures, and teach them responsibility. But it doesn’t happen just by plopping Kitty in the living room and walking away. You need to invest some intense time with Kitty and your kiddo to be successful. You need to teach that two year old that pulling an animal’s tail is not alright. If you do it right, you will achieve your vision of a lifetime of cuddles and unconditional love. If you do it wrong, we have to try once again to find a home for Kitty, and this time it’s a lot harder because Kitty has “behavioral issues”.
So please don’t adopt an animal unless you’re willing to be a parent first. Your kids learn the important stuff at home, like how to be kind. How to show compassion. Respect. Be the parent you’re meant to be.