Animals in Literature

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Ginger tells the story of a cat whose owner gets a new kitten. Ginger is upset with the new addition to the family as familiar routines get disrupted. How will Ginger manage this new change? Students can relate to the experiences of Ginger and the kitten – both being the ‘new’ person and having someone new come into their family or community. Learning how to take the perspective of others, being welcoming to others and troubleshooting issues if they arise are skills that students can utilize both in the classroom and outside of school.

Why use this book?

  • Demonstrates the reality that adding pets to a household can be stressful, including pets already living in the household.
  • Shows an accurate representation of having multiple cats in a home. All resources (litter boxes, food dishes, water dishes, beds, etc) should be the number of cats in the household plus 1. For example, if there are two cats there should be at least three of every resource to reduce competition between cats.
  • Displays an accurate portrayal of cat socialization, including how some cats prefer to be alone.
  • Demonstrates the needs of cats and expression of their natural behaviour.

Animal Welfare Concerns:

  • The kitten is blamed (called naughty) for expressing natural behaviour. Suggest solutions to the following behaviours the kitten displays:

– Hiding in a box or basket: Acceptable – cats love to hide! Give cats boxes or baskets to interact with.

– Scratching the chair: provide a scratching post and reward the cat for using it.

– Up on the counter drinking milk: do not leave anything the cat may want on the counter. Milk can hurt a cat’s stomach, so provide a bowl of fresh water on the floor.

– Chasing Ginger’s tail: play with the kitten by providing enrichment such as tying bits of fleece or feathers to a stick – cats love to chase them. Provide cats with cat toys and balls to chase. Cats also like novels things so rotate toys in an out so they have ‘new’ things to play with and chase.

– Eating Ginger’s food: feed cats separately.

  • Illustrates Ginger going outside as she pleases. Cats should be supervised while outside (ie. a harness or in an enclosure) to keep the cat and wildlife (songbirds) safe. Cats should also be spayed or neutered so they cannot breed with other cats, contributing to cat overpopulation.

Ask your students:

  • How did Ginger feel when a new kitten was added to the house? How would you feel if a brother or sister was added to your home? Or a new student to the class?
  • Why do you think Ginger left?
  • How do you think the kitten felt when Ginger left?
  • If you could give the kitten advice on making friends with Ginger, what would you tell him?


  • Cats Being Cats! – As a class, brainstorm a list of things that cats naturally like to do. Next, display the Cats Being Cats Activity Sheet on the board and compare the class’ list with the column labelled “Cats’ Natural Behaviour.” Were there any behaviours that the class did not identify? Then, go back through the story with the students and list the kitten’s behaviours that are described in the book. Using the chart, draw arrows to connect the kitten’s behaviour to similar natural cat behaviours. Revisit the discovery question with the class.

Ginger is part of the AnimalTales program. Above, is a small selection of the discussion questions and activities that can be found in the Kindergarten or Grade One Teacher’s Guide. For additional discussion questions and activities request the FREE book-lending program for your class.

Additionial Resources Related to Book:





Charlotte Voake, 2008


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