I felt, though, that this would be a great time to talk about something that our family has so far avoided: pets. Besides the fact that pets are an added strain on the budget and additional work added to the already hectic and busy days that we face, 3 of my 4 children are allergic to animals. Perhaps we could get used to the added responsibilities of having pets. But the allergy thing is a tough one to overcome. Hence our extreme reluctance to venture any further down the pet path than having fish.
That's not say we've never discussed it. We have. My oldest recently asked for a puppy for his birthday. Now, this is one of the most responsible kids I know. However, when my wife and I explained to him that if we were to get a dog he'd have a number of chores added to what he already does in order to take care of a dog...well...he balked at the idea and withdrew the request.
Fast forward a couple of weeks to my wife's visit to have an Xray on her shoulder. In a very simple and friendly conversation with the tech, the subject of our kids came up and he mentioned that he had a couple of kittens that he was looking to find a good home for. Now, what got into my wife to actually consider the idea is beyond me. She called me and broached the idea. I thought about it and threw caution to the wind, along with the allergies. Two days later, we had a pair of tiny, mostly black kittens. We surprised the kids on a Friday afternoon with them. They were beyond thrilled!
Why kittens? Good question. First, we decided that if we were going to have pets, we wanted them to be low maintenance. Cats certainly fit that description. They don't need to be walked or played with. In fact, most of the time they prefer that you don't play with them. Or touch them. Or interrupt them while they nap, eat, groom, or whatever else they may be doing. They prefer that you accept that your house belongs to them now and that you are simply a guest in their house. Secondly, if we were going to have pets, we needed pets that wouldn't encumber us when we decided to travel. I know lots of people who have dogs that require attention. "I'm sorry, we just can't travel right now, we have no one to watch our dogs" and "well, we just don't want to board them because they just don't do well in a kennel" are statements that we promised would never be said by us. With cats, this isn't a problem. Our cats have a self feeder. They have a water dispenser. They have a much used litter box (our kittens were 2 months old when we got them and were already litter box trained). We can feel free and confident to go away for two or three days and not worry about them.
Now, about those allergies we spoke of earlier. Funny thing about allergies: the more exposure that you have to an allergen, the more your body is able to begin developing a resistance to it. The first day we brought the kittens home, there were some stuffy noses and itchy eyes. As you can imagine, we immediately started the Zyrtec. Since then, however, nearly everyone's allergies, including mine, have died down. Only one kid is still on the allergy meds, and he's always been on them due to his asthma. So those worries have all but faded.
Now, there are some health hazards that go with having kittens. There is always the threat of attack and bodily harm. Kittens attack everything. And I do mean everything. I have watched them walk right up to a blank wall and attack it. When we brought them home, I warned the kids while we were still in the car that they would be scratched and bitten constantly and not to freak out about it. They have since found out just what I was talking about. They really don't hurt when they attack, but the surprise of having a pair of sharp teeth and sharp claws going into your leg while you are at the dinner table can certainly be unsettling!
This last picture is our kittens, in their sleep mode. You see, kittens have two modes: attack and sleep. There is no middle ground. To commemorate this wondrous discovery, I've written a psalm that I'd like to share:
The Kitten Psalm
by Tim Blake
1. These are my kittens, they shall attack.
2. They attack green pastures, they attack still waters, and anything else that may or may not move.
3. They are trying to my soul. When I am on the path of righteousness, they attack me.
4. When I am in the valley of the shadow of death, they attack me. The rod and the staff, they attack those as well.
5. They attack the table prepared in the presence of my enemies. My cup overflows because they attacked it and made it spill. Thou cannot anoint my head with oil because they are busy attacking my hair.
6. Goodness and mercy are too frightened to follow me on any of the days of my life for fear of being attacked by the kittens.
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