I've always loved animals. When I was a kid my mother used to call me "the little mother of all the world" because I was so tender hearted I didn't even like to kill bugs.
But my mother wasn't fond of animals, so when I was little the only pets I was allowed to have were fish, and they're not exactly snuggly.
Later I was allowed to have a hamster and, finally, to accept a cat some kids had adopted while they spent the summer in the cabin next to ours when they went back to their real home. The cat was a male, but I hoped to talk him into having kittens so I named him Suzie.
However my mother insisted the cat could never be in the house at night or when nobody was home, and he could only be on the furniture if he were on somebody's lap. And I had to agree that if he got sick we couldn't take him to the vet because we couldn't afford it.
Of course as an adult I've had lots of pets, but the ones I had as a kid have been a big influence on my life.
Although the creatures can't really understand much of our language, some of them can recognize our emotions and will 'listen' when kids need to unload their feelings. And the animals are always there to show affection.
While some families can't have animals with fur or feathers because of allergies, even reptiles, spiders or fish can help kids learn to accept responsibilities.
I think caring for pets is an important way to help children grow up to be caring adults.