Data the Cat

Magic and Justice

In 2012, both my dear cats died. Magic died of an illness, and Justice died in an accident. We took a break from pets after that (kind of enjoying leaving doors open and not having a litter box, if I can be honest). Grey, a seven year old, strongly remembers his cats as beloved. Since about Christmas, Grey has been on a full court press to get another cat. And I will confess, for all my logistical challenges with cats, I miss having a cat in the house.

So I sat Grey down in the dark of winter and told him he could have a cat if he could *Actually* prove to me that he would provide the daily care for the cat. This is not an easy bar. So often with kids we have pro forma promotion – if you just kind of do the work you get the pass. But in this case, it wasn’t just about him going through the motions… I actually needed to believe that he would (most of the time) take care of the cat.

We settled on a proof of responsibility, and Grey named the cat in his imagination. The cat is named Data. I’m not sure why he picked Data, but as a geek I have to love the name. I imagine a robotic but affectionate feline. Grey has spun stories and yarns about his future, to be cat, and talks about readying for Data.

We set a chore chart on the fridge. The deal was that at 170 checks (the target was selected by my son) I would get him a cat. The checks were a mix of easy and hard, dos and don’ts, which evolved over time. At first, I had trouble thinking of five or six chores that Grey could actually do. Now I have more chores than checkmarks on the board – several of them being actual things that make my life easier if he does them. He got up to about 120 and then decided to spend a bunch of his points on Skylanders (a video game). But he got right back up on the horse and worked on earning his checks.

The chore chart is great for setting expectations, reminding him of his chores and helping with long term planning and arithmetic.

Finally this week, with a marathon day of chores, Grey got his last check mark and reached the 170 mark. It was reality. Grey had earned Data.

Now, this is not actually the best time of year to bring home a new cat. Grey is headed off for Camp Gramp in two weeks (how does that happen, that summer flies so fast?) We have one more four day camping trip before school starts. I’d rather wait until we were here all the time. But somehow I found myself perusing the adoptable cats at the local shelter, and I stumbled across this guy:

Mud Pie- unfortunately he doesn’t have the right personality for our home

All together now, “Awwwwwww!”

He’s a little young for my tastes (I’d actually rather have a two year old cat), but he is SO DARN CUTE. Last night, Grey and I went to get the cat gear we’d need. Then we came home and filled out an application for adoption together. I’m waiting to hear back from the kitty’s foster parent to see if we can set up a time to meet some of their cats. I do want to make sure that proto-Data will be a personality match for our family.

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

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