How do I explain that we can't keep our cat?
Q: I have a 15-month-old boy who is really attached to my cat. It was actually his first word. He loves to follow her around and I can see that there is a bond there. Unfortunately, we have to move and I cannot take the cat with us. I know my son doesn't understand yet, so do I need to even explain to him that she can't come with us? Will he even react to her not being with us?
A: What a great question. Children certainly do bond with pets and it’s adorable to see them together. The good news is that once you move I would not be surprised if your son does not notice the pet absence as much as you thought.
I do advise letting him know that "kitty" will be living in a new home but I'd keep the conversation brief and factual. Once you move, if your son asks about the cat’s whereabouts, remind him the cat is happy and in a good home. You might want to keep a picture of the cat somewhere to reference if he asks, but he will look to you as a guide, so model that you are coping well and he likely will too!
Answered by Rachel Busman, Psy.D.