It's safe to say Gregory's favorite thing in the world, is his cat (closely followed by trains and then construction vehicles). We have been very blessed to have a very patient kitty, who tolerates being smothered with hugs and kisses, carried all over the house, and anxious little hands filling her food/water dish. (the cat jumped up in Leora's lap on her own)
Unfortunately, this past Saturday, she nipped at Gregory when he was holding her too tightly. In return he hit her. We were shocked, because we never handle situations like that. We had to somehow drive it home that this behavior is flat-out unacceptable.
In the past we've threatened taking her back to the store or giving her to another family when he's been rough with her. This was the first time he had deliberately hurt her, so I decided it was time to make good on our word.
Our neighbors have a cat and no kids, so we asked how they would feel about us "giving" them our kitty for a night. They were happy to help out.
Now, I was a little concerned about how this would ultimately be carried out. We had every intention of having her back, so I felt it would diminish the lesson if we said she was gone and she ended up reappearing. So, we explained that she was going to live with the neighbors and Fred and I were going to talk about whether she could come home. Then we let him figure out on his own what he might say that would convince us he deserved to have her back.
When the neighbors came and got her, it was a heartbreaking experience. When they left he had a complete meltdown, sobbing and screaming that he wanted her back. As he calmed down, I saw realization coming over him and he started tenderly begging to have her back and promising that he would be gentle and never hurt her again.
By the following evening, she was back in the arms of a very happy Gregory. The neighbors said she was very well-behaved, but I think she's happy to be home. I confess, we missed her, too. She's a real member of our little family now. And hopefully Gregory won't question our sincerity in the future!