Should You Tell a 5-Year-Old the Truth?

Before you answer, you might want to read.

My wife and I are faced with a conundrum.  It is one we knew we’d have to face, but now we differ on how to handle it. We live near a wooded park, and there are obviously carnivorous critters out there.  We’ve lost two cats to coyotes a couple years ago.  We have one cat who was born feral, and he’s over 15-years-old.  We adopted another sweetheart of a cat from a shelter after the our baby girls were gone; we had intentions of making her an indoor cat, but those intentions were not in line with Zöe’s motives.  She would sneak out and destroy screens, so we let her go.  We bring her in at night, but sometimes she’ll dart out when we open a door. 

She did just that Monday evening.  Later that night, I heard milk-curdling cat screaming, and it woke me up. I darted outside almost as quickly as she did hours earlier. I scaled a fence in my skivvies (sorry neighbors), but didn’t see anything but another cat fleeing the scene.  That gave me hope that what I heard was just a cat fight… it wasn’t.  She hasn’t come home, and I’ve combed the neighbor’s yards for evidence of the inevitable to no avail.

What do we tell our five-year-old?  He broke down when our puppy died of kidney failure a year ago. (By the way, are you getting the feeling it’s dangerous to be an animal in the Bush household?)

I want to tell him the truth that “the coyotes got her.” My wife thinks we should just say she ran away. I’m all about full disclosure — even to a five-year-old – but I’m starting to think that maybe it’s best to play dumb (typecasting?). It’s like they say on those crime shows, if there’s no body, there’s no murder.

As I mentioned earlier, our other cat is 15+.  We’re going to have to broach that before long, so maybe we should spare the kid the heartache on this one.



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