Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Break it to them gently

We have a cat. She is a lovely cat, very pretty although not always terribly bright. She is very easy going and does not object to being manhandled or, say, hypothetically, wheelbarrowed around the kitchen for fun. If you sit down in her vicinity she will wander past and brush against you to say hi. The children are very fond of her as she has been around forever as far as they are concerned. FirstBorn is fond of her. SecondBorn LOVES her. He goes in to say good morning to her when he gets up. He makes a point of going in to say goodnight to her before he goes to bed. If I can’t find him to send him to bed, chances are I will locate him lying on the kitchen floor in his pyjamas communing with the cat. They are very close.

And here’s the thing. The cat is getting on a bit. She was 15 years old in May (some time – not sure of the date because she was a feral kitten born in a cardboard box factory). And while she is in good form, still eats well and goes out hunting (admittedly she can only catch butterflies when in season and birds who are already at death’s door), realistically she can’t have a great many more years in her. I have tried very subtly to prepare the boys for the fact that she won’t be with us forever. They have never dealt with death close to them and I don’t want it to come as a shock to them. So I have been trying gently to let them know that the cat won’t always be with us but that is natural and nothing to worry about.

I needn’t have worried. SecondBorn came bouncing up to me the other day with the immortal line “Can we get two kittens and can we call one Pixel and the other Furpuss?” I gently point out that our elderly cat wouldn’t take kindly to two kittens running riot in the house. SecondBorn didn’t skip a beat “Yes, but when she’s dead, can we?”

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