The cats have been so important to us for two decades. Now we have none. The kids were seemingly not affected by his passing, already wondering what new pet we would get. I think it might be a couple of hamsters next. (Their minds were blown when I told them unlike hamsters in the pet store, ones you have at home aren’t always trapped away behind glass!)
Willis had an incident very early in his life that he never fully recovered from. He got his head trapped in a plastic bag handle and he tried to escape; running around the house with a bag on him way faster than I could catch him. He was very panicky after that. He was still as nice as could be and very loving…but would dart at the sound of a bag – or something loud and quickly coming towards him; like an infant 12 years later…and then another one.
He didn’t hate the kids, but he sure spent much of his later life going somewhere else when they were around…unless he was near the safety and petting of mom and dad.
They were able to stroke his tail eventually, and each were able to pet him a handful of times. They earned that.
They weren’t able to play with him too much…until they discovered lasers and feathersticks, but they have learned how to read and predict animals’ behavior, how to care for an animal and a lot of empathy. They’ve witnessed the camouflage and hunting techniques of cats, wondered about their eyes, and learned where to pet Willis and how to hopefully get him to let you.
They learned that cats are still pointy, even when they are just playing…or you and your socks walk by. They were taught how to pull out a cat claw from your skin and had a pain benchmark to base play and exploration around. “That’ll hurt more than a cat scratch” was something very easy for the smallest of kids to understand.