The day we brought Stella home from the hospital, in late April of 2006, my mother-in-law gave her a pink kitty stuffed animal.
We carefully put it beside her in her bassinet. As you can see, at that time kitty was bigger than she was.
Kitty stayed in the bassinet and then moved to Stella's crib, where he seemingly went unnoticed for about a year until we had a little friend over to play. We were up in Stella's room and this little girl reached her hands through the bars of the crib and pulled kitty out. Stella started to cry and fuss and was very distressed until kitty was returned safely to her arms.
Ever since then kitty has been her constant companion. I had a blankie when I was a child (and actually sucked my thumb until I was 13, but that's a topic for another day) so I totally understand her devotion. Stella has napped with and slept with kitty for many years. He (and kitty is undeniably male in her world) has gone to preschool and the doctor's office, survived many a long car trip and stomach flu. "Where's kitty?" is probably the most repeated phrase in our house.
Daddy washes kitty carefully in the sink every few Saturday mornings and then kitty gets to take warm spins in the dryer. When he comes out, he smells "so so pink" according to Stella, although in reality kitty hasn't been pink in years.
As I think I've made pretty clear here, my two children are very different from one another. Really diametrically different. But one thing they wholeheartedly agree upon is their disdain for baby dolls. If you ask them what they do when they encounter a baby doll they will tell you, in unison, "We throw it against the wall!" The few times they take the copious amount of baby dolls we own down from their shelf (when you have two girls people buy you baby dolls all the time), it is to make the baby dolls a prison in which they are isolated and starved.
But my girls do like to play house. So they co-parent kitty. Almost every day. They drop kitty at daycare, take him to hockey lessons, make him elaborate dinner parties, and, of course, celebrate his birthday over and over again.
All of this wonderful love has taken its toll on the poor cat. He is so floppy and rag-like that we no longer let Stella take him out of the house or the car for fear that he will come apart completely or be confused with a real rag and accidentally thrown away. When I noticed that Kitty's paws were nearly transparent, I knew he was in need of some surgery.
Here is kitty this morning.
And here he is this afternoon, with more stuffing and new pink paws.