My Daughter Earned Her Cat
by Kimberli Thompson
My 10-year-old daughter was adamant that she wanted a cat. I wasn't sure if this was a passing desire, so I hesitated to say yes. Instead, I asked her to write down what she would do to care for that cat once it came it home - it would need to be fed, the litter box cleaned regularly, and played with.
To my surprise and delight, she wrote a "cat contract" in which she promised to care for, feed, and play with the cat regularly. And if she did not, we could dock her weekly allowance at $1 per offense.
When we realized she actually understood what having a pet would entail for her, and that she was willing to take on the job, we got her that cat.
It's been two years, and only a couple times has she forgotten to clean the litter box. I think it really helped that we had her look at more than just "having" a cat - and look instead to what being the owner and responsible for a cat really meant. It worked out really well for us!