Two fridays a month I spend time with some of the kids in the after-school program at Blair Elementary School in Waukesha. I'm known as "The Humane Society Lady" who sets up fun games for the kids to play and brings all sorts of cool animals for them to meet.
The games are always animal related, and usually have a lesson. This week we did an activity that was meant to teach the kids what can happen when a cat isn't spayed. You can see in the photo that there are sheets of paper with photos attached. Each sheet represents one offspring or descendent of the original cat, and their offspring within a 15 month period of time.
Of course this week I brought a cat for the children to meet. Tony was recommended by the staff as being outgoing and probably a good choice to take to the school. But as so often happens when working with children, and when working with animals things don't always go as planned.
I had the kids sit in a circle and put Tony the cat in the middle. He jumped out. I went and retrieved him and put him back in the circle. He jumped out again -- this time hiding under a book cart.
I decided to make the best out of a disappointing situation by asking the kids why they thought Tony kept leaving the circle. The kids came up with some very thoughtful answers; he was afraid of the kids, the kids were being too noisy and frightening him, it was a new environment and he wanted to explore and he wanted to go over and look out the window (which he did the first time he left).
Ultimately I committed kitty torture by holding Tony in my arms and allowing each of the kids to spend a few seconds petting him. It certainly wasn't the experience I was looking for - a calm cat walking around the circle and reveling in the joy of the kids petting him. But in many ways it turned out better than I could have hoped; Tony gave me an opportunity to get the kids to think about his feelings.