My daughter Miriam recently turned five. For months she's been asking for a pet for her birthday. In the past she's had pet fish and shrimp, but never a more interactive pet. So after a lot of discussion and consideration we decided to give her a pet for her birthday. It took a lot more discussion and consideration to decide to give her a kitten. (We went with a kitten rather than a cat so that they can be used to small children from the beginning rather than having clashes between an older cat and kids trying to get used to each other.)
We thought that we had a pretty clear idea of what kind of kitten we wanted to get. Then Miriam accidentally met Ben, a tiny all black kitten, and fell in love. As soon as she saw him, she knew that Ben was her cat. (Or, as my husband puts it, that she was Ben's person.) Ben was the runt of his litter and was only a third the size of the other kittens his age. In this picture he's 8 1/2 weeks old and easily fits in an adult's hand.
As an almost five-year-old, Miriam was excited for a pet because she wanted to be able to love it and play with it. She had visions of a kitten who would follow her around, sit in her lap, etc. So far she has spent large amounts of time stroking and carrying around Ben. She also draws pictures of him and sings songs to and about him.
What's really impressed me, though, is the amount of responsibility that she's taken for her pet. She is happy to help give him food and water and even to clean his litter box. Having a pet is definitely going to help her to learn responsibility and commitment. I'm looking forward to seeing what else she learns from having a pet (so expect to see more posts with Ben).