Adopting new furry friends

Aug 3, 2008 at 10:27 p.m. ET

Since our elderly cat passed away in January, I've been missing feline companionship. So have the kids. Still, it was hard to decide we were ready to adopt a new pet.

Little Girl and Kitten
As we grieved our dear Mr S over several months (and still had our dog T to care for), we wondered if we would ever be ready for a new cat or two. We wondered when would be time, time enough for us to grieve properly, not feel like we were trying to replace Mr S, and be open to a new personality. Over time, our sadness over the loss of Mr S gave way to more happy memories. Slowly, we were becoming more and more ready to love a new critter.

It was time, or so we thought

In early May, we decided we were ready, and the search for kittens began. This was not was easy as it sounds. We contacted humane societies and rescue organizations, and most would not allow us to adopt very young animals from them due to the age of Sunshine. While on one hand I understood their reasoning, on the other I was stunned. Our situation was different, I reasoned. The volunteer I spoke to at one organization that denied us knew us from our veterinarian's office: she was the receptionist that complimented us on how gentle and loving Sunshine was with feeble Mr S! Surely she would be fine with a kitten

I refused to call other organizations and lie to them about our family members and situation. That would be wrong, and I knew the kids were watching me closely. As much as I wanted to support a rescue organization, I knew we needed kittens for a variety of reasons. We were stuck.

Meeting our new friends

In late May, a friend told us about a farm near her brother's house, and they had kittens. Within minutes a plan was hatched. We waited for several weeks for the kittens in the barn to be weaned and the right age for adoption. Then Woody and I and our friends made a day trip. Each family chose two kittens, one each from two litters, and we brought them home.

It is wonderful having kittens in the house again, but I have to say, there are some things I had forgotten, and some issues I didn't expect. We thought we were ready when we bought the food and set up the litter box, but not quite.

Expected and unexpected

First of all, I had forgotten how active kittens are! I mean, I knew, of course, but the reality can be different. Just like I had to child-proof the house when the kids were toddlers, I've had to take steps to kitten-proof the house. We've already lost two picture frames and a glass to inquisitive kittens. Thankfully there were no resulting injuries, feline or human.

The other issue is the enthusiasm of the kids. They are so enamored of the kittens and want to hold them so much that we have to set ground rules. Sunshine especially needs ground rules - although most of the time she is just fine, she's too enthusiastic some days! Thankfully the kittens' personalities are such that they tend to be still and purr when she holds them like babies, but I don't want to push it. And I want to teach Sunshine and the boys about the right and respectful ways to raise kittens.

Guidelines for respect and safety

Given all this, we established some rules in the house for the safety and comfort of all creatures who live here.

  1. Supervision for Sunshine and her friends with the kittens. At all times. They mean well, but need supervision.
  2. Respect the animal at all times. If the kitten is mewing or wriggling, let them go. Give them a break like you would want a break.
  3. Everyone takes turns with feeding the kittens. Responsibility as well as respect. Mom and Dad, however, are on litter box duty.
  4. Think about and create a safe environment for them, and for us.

With these few rules, we're really enjoying the kittens. Even the dog is happy and tolerant of these playful little creatures. We're looking forward to many years of companionship.

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