Jenni Dewitt's son and cat

“Why am I doing this?” I asked myself, trying not to gag as I scooped kitty litter into a plastic Walmart bag.

We had gotten my son a new kitten for his ninth birthday, and he had promised to take care of it. He had sworn he’d feed it every day and clean the litter box.

And he’d been doing a pretty good job.

However, that night he was staying at a friend’s house, and I was on kitty “duty,” if you know what I mean. It was a moment of truth when I had to wonder...why did we let him get this stupid cat?

Why did we allow our house to be fuzzed with kitten fluff? Why did we commit to caring for a cat whose average life span meant it would be there long after our child left for college?

Elbow-deep in my current situation, it was easy to come up with a lot of reasons not to get a pet.

However, all things considered, I was still glad we had gotten him the darn cat. Because my son, who is the proverbial “you’d lose your head if it wasn’t attached” kind of child, was learning to be responsible. He was learning to be depended on and to follow through on commitments.

I mean, to our sheer and utter amazement, the food and water dish were always full, the litter box was well kept and we didn’t even have to harp on him to make it happen. As a natural reward for his responsible behavior, the cat absolutely adored him – literally purring whenever he walked into her line of sight.

So while a cat may be an inconvenience and even an annoyance at times, it was clear to me it was also the most natural way in the world to teach our young son some pretty major life lessons.


Jenni DeWitt is married and has two sons, the youngest of whom is battling childhood leukemia. Jenni writes weekly for She is the author of "Forty Days" and "Why Won't God Talk to Me?" You can read more about Jenni here

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