Saturday, March 12, 2016

Between the layers of cookies

Well I think my biggest fan right now is my needy cat. I should say-my son's needy cat. Her name is coco and she is awesome-and crazy.

Last February and much thought, research and an $800 renters deposit we went to our local animal shelter (where I had been volunteering until I became pregnant (aka shared a bed with my husband)-to help look for a special cat).

I had read about the benefits of dogs as therapy animals but I am not meant to be an alpha leader to a dog. I am more of a "one day I'll buy a dog to carry in a purse kind of person" right now.

On the day we were to go the animal shelter we had prepped the kids. I had gone online and looked up cats that were listed-many of which stated "good with kids" or "not"

And my husband and I prayed that in the end we would know which cat would best suit the needs we had in our family.

Backing up-Part of my research was about traits one would desire in a therapy animal.

Ours needed to be very forgiving, needy enough to continually want attention and our purpose was that adding this animal to our family would help teach patience, empathy, companionship, loyalty and responsibility

We thought we had a cat picked out but our son was continually drawn to the older female cats. In the end we brought home our newly rebranded cat coco. To say she is vocal is an understatement. She has scared  and startled many visitors with a cat screech and then a rough rubbing against your legs. Most cats you hear a noise or a loud yell you think "OK the cat wants space". She likes to rub her face on you with one of her teeth sticking out and has on more than one occassion licked my face in the morning or nibbled on my shirt for attention

She sounds like if she were a smoker in her first life. Like her meower was broken and then became a two packer a day. At first she only wanted to eat human food. She would beg like she was dying when we had dinner.

And I think this is where I bonded with her-food. I would be like "Totally get it but you've got to go eat your hard little cat rocks-this pie is allll for me!"

She has been a very welcome addition to our family and has indeed not only provided comfort and behavioral reinforcement for our son. But also companionship and an opportunity to feel responsible for something that you help nurture and take care of. I don't think any cat could do this (all the ones I grew up with were less than cuddly but gratefully always willing to the dry chicken that was slaved over and then hidden under the hutch behind my seat at the table).

We have had her over a year now and she is just starting to sleep on our kid's bed's. And sometimes will get on your lap. She is approximately 12 years old.

So many small things happen on a daily basis. This last year has brought us a new sibling for my children, 30lbs to lose for myself (thank  you oreos, sprained ankle and sheer laziness).  Continued Remission for my mom, Stitches, lessons but has made me more grateful for the crazy cat coco.

She loves my son. She has helped teach him patience and reciprocating affection and showing appropriate attention. She can tell when he is getting agitated and working up and it isn't that she goes to comfort him she moves away. This provide opportunity to point out the behavior is affecting what he might want from her (he can't keep petting her or be next to her if she doesn't feel comfortable or safe).
He has had the opportunity to help train her. That she comes when you whistle or call her name by positive reinforcement.    And I do think it has given more opportunity for open conversations about behavior recognition and even if you make a mistake you are still welcome in our family.

So between all the layers of cookies gathered around my body helping me tightly round out my size 12 pants-I would say that coco has been a needed and necessary benefit for our family.

And she will be around as long as she doesn't' start peeing on anything (I have never had a cat I have owned pee on stuff....children yes...but cats no) so I guess in the end I would probably still keep her because there is not way she could ever out busy or trouble make my children and it is nice to sometimes have someone to cry into a french fry with.
This was in the meet and greet room at the shelter feb 2015 (which by the way had their first "no kill" for dogs and cat's last year)-so awesome!

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