My boys are now seven and eight years old and it felt like the right time for us to discuss the possibility of adding a fluffy member to our household. We talked about what new responsibilities this would mean for each of us and researched on-line what kind of pet would suit us best.
Although pedigree pets can be expensive, we decided the affectionate and calm nature of the Ragdoll cat would be the right fit for us.
After finding a reputable breeder, we visited their home and talked about the special needs Ragdoll cats have. This was also an opportunity for us to check nobody had any allergic reactions to the fur. Further discussions followed and on our next visit to the breeder we chose and named our kitten Gizmo.
While Gizmo grew, we prepared for him to join our forever home. The boys especially enjoyed searching pet shops and on gumtree for the best deals. They were very excited for their friends to meet Gizmo and wrote playdate invitations.
Bringing Gizmo home was a very memorable day for us. For weeks the boys had been counting down the days. Thankfully Gizmo settled in quickly and immediately started playing with the toys the boys showed him. It must have been very lonely for him to be away from his kitten brothers and sisters as he spent the first night seeking and singing to them. It was not long, however, before Gizmo became the king of the house and we his servants!
Over the following few weeks Gizmo met a steady stream of children. All of which fell in love with him almost as much as we had! In celebration, the children enjoyed eating kitty lamingtons, mice grapes and love-heart sandwiches for afternoon tea.
I had heard forming a bond with a pet assists all children in the areas of responsibility, empathy and nurture, although I had no idea the profound influence Gizmo would have on my ASD son. Only recently diagnosed with High Functioning Autism, he has struggled for years regulating his emotions and making sense of the world. Gizmo has had such a calming effect on him and his general happiness seems to have improved tenfold.
On one occasion, while drawing on the floor, my son ran off to use the toilet. On his return he discovered Gizmo had chewed one corner of his drawing and clawed another third of the picture. I witnessed his discovery with bated breath, ready to intervene at a second’s notice, expecting a meltdown of biblical proportion. To my surprise he only muttered Oh no! He then composed himself and went off in search for more paper. Afterwards, when I was certain he was completely unfazed about the incident, we joked about how funny it would have been if it was his homework sheet and he could have gone to school and told his teacher the cat ate my homework…
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