It comes as no surprise that the future of our planet and the creatures we share it with depends on what young people are learning today. Certainly, we are horrified to read the occasional story about gangs of youths committing atrocities on innocent cats, and we are aware that this kind of anti-social behavior often leads to violent criminal activity as adults.
The good news is that youngsters are like sponges when it comes to absorbing values, and even those who do not have good role models at home can be reached through their schools and through social programs. What they learn today about respect and responsibility for not only pet cats and dogs, but for all the animals that share our planet, will go a long way in molding the future of our world.
I have a great deal of faith in the young people of today, and I'd like to contribute my part in helping to teach them responsibility toward pets - the cats and dogs who inhabit their lives. Many of them will carry these lessons forward into care and concern for all the animals that populate our world.
As a parent, grandparent, or just a concerned adult, there are many things you can do to help mold our kids into responsible, caring, animal stewards. Depending on your own personal convictions, and the amount of time you care to invest, you can adapt and adopt any of these suggestions for your own children and those around you.
Be a Responsible Adult (Teach by Example)
The very first "mission" for installing love and respect for all animals is in the home itself. Children are more likely to mimic what they see in their every-day surroundings than to embrace what they've been taught by others.
Spay and neuter your own cats and dogs
While you're at it, talk to your kids in language that they'll understand about the problems with pet overpopulation and how you're doing your part at home to counter it.
Practice responsible pet guardianship
See that your cats get their necessary vaccinations and well-checks, and when they're sick, take them to the vet. Provide the best cat food you can afford for your kitties. When your kids reach adulthood, they will copy what they've learned at home.
- If you are vegetarian, talk to your children about your reasons for this practice. This would be a good time to explain that cats are obligate carnivores and do not do well on an all-vegetable diet.
Speak out when you witness cruelty to animals.
By turning a blind eye, you are communicating to your children that cruelty may be okay. Don't engage in physical confrontation, but when appropriate, report the incident to the proper authorities.
Volunteer for a shelter or rescue group.
When your child is old enough to understand and contribute, bring him or her along, and encourage him or her to help with small tasks, such as cleaning cages or grooming the cats.
. Again, teach respect for animals by example. You'll observe, as your child learns to bond with his own cats, he will carry that love and respect to other animals.