Parenting

My kids want a cat for Christmas

Ian is reluctant to give in to his daughters' request for a pet cat. Here's why.

Elissa's Christmas wish list.

As you can see, our daughters have already put together their Christmas wish lists for next month.

The items on Elissa’s list range from the annoying (Furby) to the super-annoying (One Direction concert tickets). And if we don’t buy her those things, we can always just give her an iPad or straight cash. Yes, it’s hard not to feel warm and fuzzy about Christmas after reading that list.

But there is a glaring omission from her list — the one thing that she and her sister want above everything else: a cat.

My kids have been pleading for months for us to get a kitten and I’ve been steadfastly against the idea. I’ve been so effective at quashing their quest for a cat that they didn’t even bother to put it on their wish list.  

It’s not that I’m an evil person with a cold heart. But I never grew up with an animal, so I don’t get overly sentimental at the thought of an animal joining our family. Also, I feel like we’d be obligated to add the little stickers to the back of our car that shows a mom, a dad, two kids and a cat.

Now I should point out that I did spend a summer working at the Humane Society in Ottawa when I was in journalism school. I took the job because it was the only one I could find that was vaguely associated with media and public relations. And when a three-legged dog jumped onto my lap during the interview process, I tried to play it off like it was nothing. But even my stint at the Humane
Society didn’t open up my cynical heart to animals.

People often ask me, “Are you a cat person or a dog person?”

My standard response is, “Is there a third option?” (For the record, that’s also the same answer I give when someone asks me if I’m a lover or a fighter).

But now I’m having a really hard time because my wife seems attached to the idea of adding a cat to the household as well. In the past, I’ve usually been pretty effective in winning battles inside our
house. My infamous victory to bring a Wii console into the house back in 2010 — despite major spousal resistance — remains my crowning achievement.

However, when it’s three-against-one, those are odds that I don’t like; especially when it’s three females against me. And that’s what I’m facing right now, as I’m the only person who is anti-cat at the moment.  

I should point out that my wife and I used to own a cat before we had kids. His name was McAllister — brilliantly named for the obscure sea captain who made semi-regular appearances on The Simpsons. And while McAllister was fun at first, his life went into a downward spiral with a series of health issues. He had a degenerative hip condition that was similar to the one that ended Bo Jackson’s career as a professional athlete. The cost to correct that issue would have been in excess of $2,000. While we debated doing that procedure, he ended up suffering from major digestive issues that caused him to constantly vomit.

We made the decision to put him down just before our second daughter was born, because we couldn’t handle two whining creatures in the middle of the night. And as many people can attest, it’s hard to discern the difference between a screaming newborn baby and a whiney cat at 2:45 a.m.

The whole experience with McAllister left me with a bad taste in my mouth — not to mention itchy, watery eyes. I’ve had allergic reactions when we visit friends with pets, but I’m starting to think that excuse is wearing thin on our kids. I know deep down inside that if we got a cat, the allergies wouldn’t be a major factor for me.  

So it seems as though we’re headed down a path that means a cat is going to be entering our home. And while the kids claim they’ll be responsible for the pet, I have a feeling I’ll be the one changing the litter box, taking it to the vet for shots and cleaning up any vomit off the carpet.

Perhaps my only demand with getting a cat is that we make sure we get a male one — so at least I have someone to watch football with on the weekends.

Were you reluctant to bring a pet into the family?