I bought my kids a kitten for Christmas.
December 03, 2014
Posted By: Shaunescy
WRITTEN BY LEIGH RIPLEY
I bought my kids a kitten for Christmas. Not just any kitten, a Maine Coon that had to be shipped from Florida. I know; there’s a lot wrong with that statement. But please, let me rewind six months.
In July, two of my girlfriends and I found a litter of Maine Coon-mix kittens available for adoption in Missoula. We drove over to meet the little fur balls, filled out the applications and put down deposits. Because the kittens had been abandoned and were quite ill, they needed to stay at the shelter for a while. So we waited. Five weeks later we got the call that the kittens were ready. The kids were excited, my friends and I were excited; we even named our new kitty Olaf (of course we did, I have a 6-year-old).
Then, two days before our planned pick up date, the shelter called and told me, rather nonchalantly, that there had been a mistake and Olaf had been adopted. Oh, the tears and disappointment from my three kids (not so much my husband). My girlfriends did get their kittens, which both died within six weeks of going home.
To numb the pain, we started looking for another Maine Coon online, and that’s where it happened . . . I stumbled across a breeder in Florida with an adorable, healthy litter available for adoption. Bring on the pleading, promising, cute little faces of my brood and the next thing I know, I’m negotiating with them. In other words, I was planning to say yes all along. I was weak, what can I say?
So here are the five negotiating points we came up with:
1. Money. We are buying a cat that has to be shipped from Florida, so something has to give, financially, and my little darlings decided it should be in the form of Christmas presents. Now, we’re not forgoing all of Christmas, just asking Santa (and the parents) for less.
2. The litter box. Again, because we are shelling out money for a cat, I don’t want the creatures that inhabit my neighborhood to dine on his fluffy, chubby little body (something murdered my neighbor’s Pekin Duck recently – so I know there really is
a creature out there). Therefore the kitten will stay inside for at least a year, until he’s big enough to defend himself. Meaning, he will need a litter box. All three kids agreed that they will handle this lovely chore and have even made a litter box chart.
3. Food and water. The kids will check and replenish his food and water bowl every morning. They will also need to earn money to buy his food. Trust me, there is plenty to do around here, and I am desperate to get them to pull their own weight. So we created a chore chart and assigned specific dollar values to their work.
4. Toys. Same as above. A kitty needs to play and the kids need to pay for the toys.
5. The doors must be closed when entering or leaving the house. I’m continually baffled by a child’s inability to close a door and, as mentioned in negotiating point number two, this will be an inside cat for a while.
With that, we struck a deal and it sounded great to everyone. The kids did their chores, earned money and shopped for the kitten: food, a bed, scratching post and toys. We stalked the breeder’s website daily for updated photos and waited, rather impatiently, for his arrival day. Five weeks later, his flight was booked (yes, this was a process).
When the time came, the whole family went to the airport, including my begrudging husband, and picked up Bogart, a dangerously cute 9-week-old Maine Coon.
The first two weeks went as you can imagine; everyone was so excited they actually enjoyed scooping amazingly stinky turds from the litter box. Bogart was fed, watered, entertained and happy. The 11-year-old even made signs for every door that led outside, firmly declaring “SHUT THE DOOR.”
Then the novelty started to wear off. Doors were left wide open (in subzero temperatures, I might add); Bogart began drinking water from the dog bowl because his was always empty and he started a very bad habit of finishing off the kids’ breakfast, which they encouraged because they wouldn’t have to. And guess who found themselves cleaning the litter box? Moi. And the Christmas lists? Let me put it this way; they all think they are getting an i-something and UGGS – um, I doubt that.
My expectations had apparently been a little too high.
Then one night, the 6-year-old ran through the living room with Bogart in her arms, tripped over a beanbag, soared through the air and took a header, on top of Bogart. Everyone ran to check on the child, except me, I ran past the child to check on Bogart. I was seriously concerned that she had squished my Maine Coon kitty.
When the commotion of the accident subsided, the 8-year-old looked at me and said, “Mom, don’t you think it’s funny you were more worried about the cat than your own child?”
I replied, “I knew she was fine, she falls down all the time. Bogart? He weighs like 6 pounds and I’m sure this is the first time a 60-pound human torpedo landed on him.”
The 8-year-old, “I can see that. And I guess you really care about him because he sort of is your cat; you feed him, close the doors behind us and clean his litter box.”
Apparently, Bogart is the best Christmas present I ever bought myself.