When my kids were little, as most kids do, they wanted their own cats. We had a family dog but they wanted their own animals, to be just theirs. We lived on 8 acres in the country, so I wasn’t opposed to the idea, but I knew too many families where the kids had begged for a pet and promised faithfully to take care of it, but “forgot” and the parents wound up doing all the animal care. I was NOT going to have that. I bombarded the kids from birth about responsible pet ownership – neutering, vaccinations, and generally putting the pet’s needs ahead of your own because it can’t fend for itself. They were each responsible for some aspect of dog care, and when I thought they had demonstrated the ability to do that part without being reminded, I talked to my husband about letting them adopt kittens and raise them.

I did want the cats to be good mousers, so I waited until the local “free” column contained an offer of kittens from a barn cat mother, and took the kids over to pick out their kittens. I explained to the kids that how the kittens were raised would strongly affect what kind of cats they became, so the kids needed to spend lots of time playing with and petting the cats, so they would learn to enjoy and value interaction with humans. They smiled and agreed – please, Mama, don’t throw me in that brier patch!

And they did take care of the cats. They fed them, cleaned the litter box, loved on them.

And then the kids grew up.

My daughter went off to college first. She couldn’t have her cat with her in the dorm, of course, so Squeaky lived at home that year. Second and third years, she was living in a house and kept her cat, but for her senior year, she wanted to share an apartment with a cat-allergic friend. Squeaky is a VERY affectionate beast, so I didn’t really mind letting her move back in with us. But now she is planning on staying in the college town, with the same cat-allergic friend, after graduation. Excuse me? Have you forgotten your commitment to your feline friend?

My son, meanwhile, joined the National Guard and was gone for about 6 months doing basic and advanced training. Naturally, Blackie couldn’t go with him. He tried college for one semester but didn’t pay enough attention to do well and moved home (with cat) to job-hunt. He’ll start with the state prison system in a couple of weeks. And he announced that he has found an apartment … that doesn’t allow cats.

Figure out what’s wrong with this picture yet?