We have two cats that are loved nearly to death by my children. One is a big fat cat named Don Juan. (Not my doing. We adopted him and that is the name he came with!) And a small she cat named Winter. Oh, how my children love those cats. Don Juan is extremely gentle and will let the baby crawl on him, pull his tail and chew on it a little. Winter is a tad more skittish. But I can't blame the poor girl. She gets drug around the house by all of the kids. She gets stuck in boxes and pillow cases. They build forts for her and force her in. One day I caught the kids trying to shove her through a hole in the back of the rocking chair. Poor kitty! Katherine can even pick her up and drag her around. I think Don Juan got fat out of self defense. The kids can't pick him up.
After having many pets, I've decided that cats are just right for me. They require relatively little maintenance. They are potty trained. You can leave them alone when you go on vacation. And you can pick them up. Of course there are always cons, but as far as having pets, cats are just right for me. We tried a dog, too much work. Birds were too messy, they flew home to their moms and dads midwinter. (Not really, but that's what I told the kids.) Fish, well, I hated cleaning out the stupid tank once a week.
I'm not sure what would entertain the kids if we didn't have cats. They spend half their time chasing, catching and tormenting the poor things. Luckily I have very docile cats that allow the children to 'love' them all they want. Although, I do have to put my foot down on some of their escapades. Poor kitties!!!