By: Jenny McGrath
Originally Posted on Jenny’s Blog: http://thealternativeparentire.blogspot.ie/
Out with the old, and in with the new. The sad tale that can be for many a beloved house pet once a baby comes along. “we cannot keep the cat it will sit on the babies face” “We cannot keep the dog it will attack the baby” or just a case of the animal being put out and rarely let in, taken to a pound to await a knowing fate, or just abandoned, dumped, or left to fend for itself.
With pet ownership comes responsibility, and as parents we owe it to our children to show them the same in regards to our furry companions. The pounds and rescue centres in this country are bursting with abandoned animals, they are left to await their fates, for many, many reasons, and never at a fault of their own. This article could take an off road of its own without any thinking involved whatsoever, in the many reasons animals are dumped from the lack of responsibility of pet owners. Issues such as rescuing pets rather than buying, thus not aiding Irelands puppy farms. Its an endless and frustrating list. But as a parent, and owner of four cats, I am focusing on that aspect.
However, needless to point out… but I will, a pet, any pet, should never be left alone ever in a room with a newborn, or a baby or child of any age. We heard it all, “you’ll have to get rid of your cats” “cats are dirty” “your cats will sit on your babies face” ….
So, the cats at the start were out a bit more than usual, two were, still are terrified of our baba if he cries, and the other two quite frankly, didn’t really seem to care at all, other than the odd supervised sniff. And that is it right there, supervision, never ever, ever leave even the most docile of house pets alone with a child. And as a baba gets older, like our boy now, they love to grab things, and pull! And an animal has a natural defense reaction to that, be it a swipe or scrawl or bite… children and animals can co exist in a home, but responsible supervision is a must. And to think that because you have a baby you can put out an animal to fend for itself, or just discard is morally wrong and irresponsible. If our baba had been allergic to our cats, then that would of been a very sad, but definite means to rehoming. I think it is amazing for a child to be brought up with animals, it teaches them compassion for creatures other than ourselves, and towards each other…. it teaches responsibly, and I believe, lets them know this world has many inhabitants that deserve respect. If you decide to have a pet, think long term always, as one day you may have children, and for you, can you keep the responsibility of an animal to care for as well? If you find it hard for the first few months, build or buy a warm house for your garden until everyone has settled in together and gotten used to the new arrival.
If you make an issue, it becomes an issue. Our male cat sprayed (even though spayed) when we had our baba, we nearly had to rehome him, but I fought and fought to do everything to keep him, and he’s still here. The truth is, there is no homes for unwanted pets…. so I believe it is wrong to put them out of a home they have, for a reason that is not even justified.
You cannot just not care for an animal you surely loved, all of a sudden because it is inconvenient, or because you cannot see past the animal possibly hurting your baby, which wont happen if you, (like I keep stating) are responsible.
Because at the end of it all… is that the message you want to send to your children? Because it is not the message I will ever send to mine.