First of all, let me tell you about the process of adopting an animal in US. If you have a small child -ours was 2yo at the time- most pet shelters will not even speak to you. If they do, you'll need to fill up a long form, provide some references, go through a home inspection, etc. We are very grateful we were able to find one organization that met us, talked to us, and decided that our kid won't break the kitten's neck. Thank you, FOLAS, for your trust.
I was very specific that we had to adopt a kitten, not a tiny one, but nevertheless a kitten. We've petsitted an adult cat and we knew that there was no chance in the world that a cat with a "baggage" could be trusted to be good to a small child, that we could tame the adult cat. Cats are very intelligent animals and have a much better memory than dogs. They could be loyal to a new owner who takes care of them and feeds them, but I would never trust them with a child. (here is some trivia about the cats' behaviors)
The cats grow fast. So a few months after we brought a small-ish kitten home, he grew into a behemoth. At first, the kiddo was jealous of the kitten, not letting anyone pick him up, upset when he got new toys. Almost as if we brought another baby home. She was very careful around him, and so overjoyed the first time she was allowed to hold the kitten. She called him "her brother" for some time, too. The cat was very protective of her, and very loyal to her. He was next to her when she was playing, watching over her when she was napping. They've bonded fast and well.
It's easy to spot the parents who never had a cat/dog when growing up - they get a gold fish or a hamster for their kids, because they think that this will teach the child that "having a pet = responsibility". Is not there more the kids should be getting from the experience? Well, not unless they have an intelligent pet who they can truly communicate with, like a cat or a dog. These animals can teach kids to respect others' space; to "read" the non-verbal language animals communicate with; and ultimately this will make kids safer, less likely to be attacked by a stray animal. And pets teach them about love, loyalty and trust. Can a gold fish do that? I doubt that.
So, here's to Cat. We love you. Happy Birthday! I promise to buy you some treats and pompons.