QUESSTION: We were having a small family gathering and enjoying ourselves when our 2-year old nephew pulled hard on our cat’s tail. The cat (who is 6 years old) has always been good around our two children, but this time (and the only time this has ever happened) it turned and scratched the child. The scratch wasn’t bad and we immediately disinfected the scratch and bandaged it.
Now the parents of the child want us to put the cat down and we refuse. Needless to say, this situation has created a lot of hard feelings. The cat is perfectly healthy, and we maintain if the parents had been watching the child this wouldn’t have happened. They say they’ll never visit again even though we said we’d put the cat in a kennel while they’re here.
Is there a resolution to this dilemma?
~ Cat Lovers
Dear Cat Lovers,
I remember a frightening incident that occurred when my daughter was a baby. One evening my husband was sitting on the bed holding our (about 5 months old) daughter with our male cat (who had previously shown zero interest or aggression towards our baby) lying down nearby. It could not have been a “better supervised” situation. Suddenly and without any warning or provocation, our cat lashed out and scratched our daughter under her left eye. Fortunately, he did not manage to reach her eye or injure her permanently. Nevertheless we were all terrified. We did not “put our cat down;” however, he did spend the next several months outside (in retrospect not the best choice in coyote country) and we never allowed him close to our daughter again (until she was much older).
So I can understand the parents of your 2-year-old nephew being very alarmed about what happened. While their reaction may seem a bit “over the top” to you, it certainly was “not that bad” of a scratch to them. I am also wondering if you have perhaps minimized the danger and upset of this situation for your nephew and the rest of the family? Pets and small children can be a risky mix and so everyone (not just his parents) must share the responsibility for this one.
One thing you might do is to visit the vet with your cat to discuss the incident. Making sure that the animal is in good health, has all vaccinations up-to-date, and obtaining the vet’s advice on how to prevent future incidents may help reassure your family members. Taking the time to truly listen to your family members’ view of what happened, along with making visible, serious, and consistent efforts to keep your pets and all family members safe during visits, is a must. Also, I am a great believer in the value of everyone offering a sincere apology. Family needs to be a safe place for everyone. Love, understanding and forgiveness are the glue that keeps a family together. Spiritually, the Divine principles to focus on here are Divine Right Action, Right Relationship, Right Resolution, Highest and Best for Everyone (no harm to anyone) and deep Peace of Mind for all concerned. Therefore when you pray, focus on these principles and then feel the living, loving presence of God healing, uniting, nurturing and protecting all of your precious family members (including the furry ones) and releasing any sense of upset right here and now. And so it is!
Sandra Shields, RScP (Religious Science Practitioner)
Center for Spiritual Living – La Crescenta
Dear Cat Lovers,
Unfortunately, I’m afraid there is no way out of this dilemma but don’t you dare put that cat down! Even if you did euthanize “Scratchy” there will always be “that something” between you and the people who want you to destroy the animal.
Now in the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you that my wife and I have a cat and three dogs – so I’m a pet lover. Still, for friends or family members to demand that you kill your cat because he/she scratched their little spoiled child (I’m only guessing he’s spoiled) is patently ridiculous.
And now a story from my past … I’m the oldest child of four boys, and my brother one time was pulling on our pet dog’s tail when he was 4 years old or so. The dog snapped at my brother and my mother smacked the dog, and even at age 6, I thought she should have slapped my brother instead! There was a happy ending: the dog stayed with us and died at age 14 – but to this day I think my mother smacked the wrong individual!
Enough about me! Back to you … I think it’s very nice of you to offer to put the cat in the kennel when Spoiled’s parents come over for a visit. But that’s enough. Again, please don’t destroy your pet. If you do, you’ll eventually hate yourself, and you’ll resent Spoiled’s parents even more.
The Rev. Skip Lindeman
La Cañada Congregational Church, and lover of animals over spoiled children
QUESTIN: Our son Josh has the opportunity to work part-time at a local restaurant during his senior year in high school. I think it’s a good idea for him to get a head start on learning work ethics and responsibility that goes along with a job. He’s always been responsible and I believe this will enhance what he already knows. His father is dead-set against him working and has given us many reasons including he should enjoy his last year at school, it could affect his grades, and interfere with his social life with friends he may not see for a long time because he’s going away to college. Josh really wants to take the job. He and I do not know what to say to his father to convince him that this will be helpful to Josh in the long run. Any ideas to help us resolve this disagreement?
~ Anxious Mom
Dear Anxious Mom,
Science of Mind is the belief that there is a Universal Intelligence which is the source and substance of all things. Through God all things are brought into being or, as the Bible states, “In Him we live, move and have our being.” One of the interesting things about Science of Mind is the understanding that our thoughts create our experiences and act as the cause to all that shows up in our lives. We come to know that we have the power to control our ideas thereby creating the outcomes that we desire.
Take a new look at your challenge using this reasoning – your son wants to work part-time and you are in agreement with him and his father does not want him to take the job. What thoughts are creating your husband’s response? Your response? Your son’s response? It sounds as though your husband’s concerns are based on the need to protect your son from extra responsibilities that might dampen his last vestige of fun and freedom before he goes off to college. It’s as if to say your son better get his fun in now because it will be over once he’s out there in the world. However, your son sees the job as an adventure, as fun and perhaps a new way to meet people while making some money. For your son taking the job will be a way of enjoying life and creating a sense of freedom. It is a statement of his independence – the very independence your husband is trying to preserve. Seeing it that way, they both want the same thing.
The world shows up exactly the way we say it is. While there is no limit to the creative power of the Universal Intelligence, God that supports our desires, that power brings us exactly the full measure of our thoughts. If our thinking is based in restriction and limitation, then that is what will show up for us. If it’s based on excitement and rich experiences then that is what will show up. That’s why it’s important to put our thoughts and energies toward creating what we do want rather than what we don’t want.
Rethink the idea together from the vantage point of knowing that everyone really wants the same thing, which is a wonderful life for your son.
Rev. Mary Morgan, Science of Mind Minister
Dear Anxious Mom,
I have to confess I can really identify with Dad in this case. It’s important for us to nurture all sorts of relationships and the primary way to do that is to spend time with people. A personal regret of mine is that I didn’t date or foster friendships while I was in college; I was too busy studying. My goal was to get good grades and hopefully land a good job after graduating, yet I never enjoyed the social activities that were happening all around me. There was always some class project that kept me from setting aside my books and going out to have a good time. Only much later in life did I come to understand the importance of living in the present.
Having laid out my biases, I can also understand Josh’s desire to work. I suggest a way to approach this is for Josh to look at the real reason why he thinks it’s a good idea to work during his last year of high school. You’ve stated that he’s already proven himself as being responsible, so I don’t think cultivating an early work ethic is the issue. Is it money? Would he be saving for something specific that he really wants, or does he need to contribute to his college expenses? Perhaps most importantly does he have any friends that he wants to spend time with? If Josh wouldn’t take advantage of having the extra time on his hands and instead spend it in his bedroom playing on his computer, then I think having a job would make more sense. At least he’d be out in public, meeting and interacting with people.
Depending on his real motivation, perhaps a middle ground might be for Josh to find a volunteer opportunity for a cause that is important to him. If his motivation is non-monetary, volunteer work might fit the bill. Maybe a Walk-a-thon, helping feed the homeless, a beach clean up or any number of other activities might fulfill the needs that he’s seeking through a job. Later if he determines that he’s not able to do other things that he would like during his senior year, it’s easy enough for him to bow out.
If money is the issue, then I suggest really weighing the benefits with what he’ll be losing out on. Today’s culture is geared around having stuff, often at the expense of relationships. Will buying a new computer or smartphone that will last two years really have the same impact on his life as a life-long friend?
Kirby Smith, Vicar
St. Luke’s of the Mountains Episcopal Church