For years I have had to be the bad guy. When we pass cute puppies and kittens at the pet store, I don’t have the luxury of oohing and ahhing over the little rascals. Any softening of my demeanor would indicate weakness and the entreaties would start. I appreciate baby animals as much, if not more, than the next guy, but my role is that of The Denyer.
“We already have three cats. There isn’t room for any more pets at our house,” has been my standard reply. It was an easy one. The reasoning couldn’t be disputed, and they came to expect it. That argument was lost in January when our sweet cat died and three quietly became two. His loss took more out of me than I really wanted to admit, and I was hoping they wouldn’t notice the hole in my logic for a while longer. It’s a parent’s job to take the long view, to see past tiny paws and adorable whiskers. When the little kitten that they want reaches the other end of its life my three chicks will be long out of the nest and it will be me left sitting beside the cat as it purrs its last.
When the litter was discovered I knew, deep down, that I was sunk. All of the other cats we have rescued since my daughters were born have been ‘teenagers’; lanky and small, but not a ball of fluff with ears. We have never had a tiny kitten to raise, and the girls began to remind me of that. They chipped away at the chink in my defense and widened it, reminding me that it was now or never for my eldest daughter. Soon she would be heading to college and getting a kitten in the Fall wouldn’t really be fair to her, in spite of the fact that we had joked that we would get one after she moved out and give it her name and room to live in. They wheedled for days and I shut down the topic for as long as possible, but my hold on my objections began to loosen. The girls knew I had relented even before I did and were at the car by the time I said “let’s just go and take a look”.
The inevitable stared me in the eye, and it purred.