I didn't have much experience with cats until I started volunteering at the animal shelter. My first week there, a staff member brought in a family of four 8-week-old kittens and set them up in a cage. "Give that little black one some special love," she told me. "He's the runt, and he's getting beat up on."
So I kept an eye on the little black one, Spike, and sure enough, every time he tried to get to the food or water, he got swatted by one of his brothers -- usually the biggest one, a black-and-white named Franz. Each time, I reached in and separated them, scolding Franz and trying to soothe little Spike.
After about a dozen such incidents, I finally hauled Franz out of the cage and held him up in front of my face. Looking him in the eye, I said fiercely, "Why do you treat your brother that way? You little bully!"
Whereupon Franz stretched forward, licked my nose, and mewed sweetly.
My face went hot with shame, and suddenly I understood: kittens are innocence personified. When they chew up our books, rip our curtains to shreds, and jump gleefully into the middle of our mashed potatoes, they're not being "bad" -- they're just being babies.
Our responsibility is to teach our pets what's okay and what isn't. And if we have humanity in our hearts, we will impart that lesson through gentle, patient guidance -- not by negative acts like shouting, squirting water or, God forbid, striking them. If we are willing to see our pets cringe in fear of us, then we shouldn't have them at all.
Had to get that off my chest. All good wishes to Vegasbound and his kitten...eternal love to Franz, wherever he is...and I'll get down from my soapbox now.