Friendships Between Children and Pets: Beneficial for All

Monday, July 28, 2014 - 3:45pm
Little boy playing with black and white spotted rabbit

Guest blogger Lauren Martin lives in New York with her husband, three cats, one bunny, one son and one daughter on the way.  Lauren works in the Legal Department for the ASPCA, has published articles on animal law and taught animal law at St. John’s University School of Law.

Many people would agree that children’s lives are enriched through positive relationships with animals.  Living with my three cats and rabbit has taught my son gentleness, patience and appreciation for the love and fun that animals bring to our lives. When I was pregnant with my son, I had anticipated that he would learn these lessons, but what I hadn’t foreseen was that my animals’ lives would be enhanced as well.

For the first few months of his life, my son slept in a bassinet in my room.  Each night, I was amused and touched when my bunny would settle down beside my son’s bassinet and go to sleep. Once my son moved into his own room and slept in his crib, I would often find my bunny standing guard outside my son’s room—she weighs four pounds and is quite intimidating. Should I dare to let the baby cry for more than a few seconds, I will inevitably find my bunny hopping over to me with her ears on alert giving me a look that says, “Mom, we have to take care of the baby!”

My cats have also enjoyed having a little one in the home, and they have formed a special bond with him. Unfortunately, my cat, Cosette, has been very ill battling kidney disease. At a recent visit to the veterinarian, she was feeling particularly sick and seemed very despondent. At the veterinarian’s office she tends to stay in her carrier or look to me for comfort, but on that day, she walked out of her carrier and over to my 18-month-old son and put her head in his lap. In that moment, I realized that my son had really touched the heart of this very shy and sensitive cat who looked for him in her moment of great need.

As my son continues to mature and as I get ready to introduce a new daughter to our family, I cannot wait to see these relationships develop. I can only hope that the love that they give to one another continues to grow and that they are better people and animals for having each other in their lives.

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