Taking Care of the Family Pets

One of those jobs that tends to fall to moms is taking care of the family pets. In our case, it’s a pair of mice named Gus and Jaq, for the mice in Cinderella.

I knew full well that I’d have to take care of the mice when we decided to let my daughter have them for her birthday. I’m the one at home the most, and cleaning a mouse cage is a bit beyond the abilities of a four year old.

I do make her help where she can, though. She can put food in the bowl, put bedding in the clean cage and so forth.

The biggest trick with family pets is keeping kids interested in caring for them. I think my daughter was disappointed to find out that you just can’t play with mice the way you do with cats or dogs. She can’t hold them unless my husband or I are hovering nearby in case the mouse gets away.

I know a lot of people say you shouldn’t get little pets for little kids because kids aren’t nice to small animals. I find it isn’t a problem so long as you make sure the animals are treated right. Kids can learn quickly how to touch even a small animal. Even my son, who isn’t quite 16 months old yet, touches the mice very gently. If left to himself, yes, he would probably crush one in sheer delight of seeing an animal, but with supervision he is taken from the mice long before he gets that excited.

Pets of all sizes need parental supervision with young children, of course. Children can accidentally injure smaller animals very easily. Cats can get annoyed enough to scratch, and no parent wants their child to suffer through a dog attack.

Taking care of the family pet is more than just cleaning up after them. It’s making sure the animals are treated right and that your children learn how to treat them and care for them.

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