Tuesdays With Murray: Chapter 117 (A Video)

I have no idea if these videos mean as much to anyone else. But I can’t help but share them. Perhaps I’m bragging a little. And I think it’s due time I explain why.

I must have been about 5 months pregnant. I had just seen an episode of Mythbusters where Jamie said something I found very offensive. I decided that it shouldn’t be on future airings of the show; it needed to be edited out. (I know! Pregnancy hormones. OMG!) I wrote a big letter and sent it to everyone behind the show I could find. (Not easy!) I even posted it on their messageboard. Basically, the letter stated that kids watch their show and that many of those kids look up to them. Flippantly admitting that you once shot and killed cats as a boy is not something that should have been put into the program. It seemed pretty simple to me. I stated I was pregnant with a son and that it bugged me a great deal.

As one might imagine, that was a huge mistake. I got attacked by some of their readers. (Wow, was I ever attacked.) After they insulted my intelligence, some told me that this is what boys do and that I am going to have a rude awakening when I realize that ALL boys at some point act violently toward animals. Including my son. Someone went on to suggest that this is just a boy’s nature. Others suggested that I was overreacting, it was just a joke! I didn’t find it funny at all.

This information devastated me. I grew up with brothers, so I fired off emails asking them (almost accusitory), “DID YOU HURT ANIMALS? DID YOU, BROTHERS?”

Neither of my brothers have ever intentionally harmed or tortured an animal for some sick amusement or game. I began to feel a little better about raising a boy. I decided that I would do my very best to teach my son to be compassionate toward animals. I can’t change the rest of the world, but I can change my own.

These interactions may not mean much to others, but they warm my heart in ways you can’t imagine. I know he’s young, but the love he seems to have toward animals makes me feel very hopeful. (You should see him with the neighbor’s dog!)

Abuse is a learned behavior. Compassion can be taught. The majority of children aren’t innately hurtful toward animals. And I’m realizing this now in the light of motherhood.


  1. I grew up with a brother who would NEVER harm an animal, ever. We were taught by our parents to love and respect nature and wild and domesticated animals. We let them be or we take care of them when they can’t take care of themselves.
    Our family pets were always treated as FAMILY – just smaller, furrier members.

    Anyone who thinks it’s normal and OK for anyone (male or female) to act violently towards an animal is seriously disturbed.

    Thank you for loving animals and for helping add another animal lover to the world.


  2. I also grew up with an older brother and many, many male cousins. All of us had some kind of pet…a hamster, a dog, a cat…stuff like that. NEVER did any single one of us ever harm any of them. I really can’t understand how somebody can say to harm an animal (let alone kill one) is normal behaviour for a boy.
    Like Sarah said, animals are family.


  3. A lot of horrifying behavior is justified and excused when boys do it, which is bogus and ignorant. Good on ya for raising such a compassionate, empathetic kid!


  4. I recently found your blog and have already been enjoying the Murray videos you’ve shared in the past couple weeks. Just wanted to put in my two cents that at least one reader has found them meaningful. Our two cats are dear to us, and we treat them like members of our family. I enjoy seeing and reading anything Murray-related. :)


  5. My 23 month old daughter and I love watching Murray’s videos, and as we watched today she said as Emory was lining up Murray’s food, and I quote ” the boy has animal candies Mommy.” So the video that warms your heart, in turn has warmed mine. Keep them coming:)


  6. Do you call Emory “Em-dash?” As a writer and editor, I love that so much.


  7. Murray is gorgeous, and I love the smile on his face when he was touching your son. My son is very very gentle with our cat and two large dogs. it is NOT “part of being a boy” to hurt animals.


  8. Omigosh, yes, no one should ever hurt animals or brag about hurting animals, but really, I just wanted to say …

    … you call Emory “em-dash”? I LOVE IT. Love it to tiny little pieces. You and Toby are so obviously design nerds; that’s the best nickname ever!


  9. I LOVE Murray!!!!!! :-)

    Our kitties are our family – I had cats growing up and didn’t understand why my parents wouldn’t allow them inside (we lived in the country and my parents didn’t believe in housepets) but now that I’m a grown up (I guess) they have the run of the house. Our baby Ernie seems to be a lot like your Murray – I hope he grows up to be just as patient and loving as him! :-)


  10. You are so right about abuse being a learned behavior.

    I refuse to believe that my son is innately aggressive or that boys, just because they’re boys, will be born with an automatic inclination to be destructive.

    Anyone who’s ever seen Em with Murray or even my own not-the-most-cuddly-pushes-away-from-hugs 11 month old with our neighbor’s cat can easily prove the point.

    I love Tuesdays with Murray and I love that you’re doing these videos for a purpose. Or even it wasn’t was a purpose, they’re still heart warming!

    Toodles babe,


  11. you have two great kids there


  12. Ok, I just wanted love all over you for calling Emory Em-dash, too. That made my day.


  13. Wait a second here — are you sure encouraging your fatties to eat even more is compassion? I may beg to differ :P


  14. I found Murray by accident from clicking on a link in my nehpews Twitter page and I have been “hooked” on Murray for months and look fwd to Mondays with Murray. My husband was brought up to respect animals and I have seen him chase down kids (boys) who were harming animals…


  15. I find it disgusting that people would condone cruel behavior and justify it by implying it is innate.

    I didn’t know that Jamie said/did that. I won’t watch Mythbusters anymore. What a jerk (I’d use stronger language but am sparing your eyes).

    My own husband loves animals and we consider our cats our children. He’s loved animals since he was a child.

    And finally, I love your Murray posts and videos. Please keep them coming.


  16. Laura: I have to admit, I haven’t really watched it since then. It really bummed me out. I thought, OK, why would he say that? Terrible and what a douche. But more importantly is how did it get beyond the editors?

    It bugged me. Ever since, I haven’t really looked at that show the same way.

    And everyone, thank you for the comments and email. I love knowing that so many animal lovers are raising new ones. :]


  17. Your Murray videos are just heartwarming. I also only found your site recently and now I excitedly check on Wednesdays for the latest on Murray.

    I love the relationship your two boys have, so palyful and caring with each other.

    I too find it disturbing that people can think to ‘normalise’ violence toward animals by throw away lines like that. Murray, and I must admit I am a bit obsessed with Youtube’s Maru, represent all that is wonderful about living with clever and humour filled felines.


  18. Wow, I just think that is crap. I can’t imagine a boy being any more inclined to hurt an animal than a little girl, unless he was taught to. I grew up with a rowdy brother who never, ever hurt an animal. And now he has two cats that he and his wife adore. He was the one who wanted them. Good for you for speaking out about it! There is no place for that kind of stuff on a family show. It’s just pointless and cruel.


  19. Murray videos always make me happy! And this one was very sweet, and I agree with your sentiment.

    We had loads of pets growing up, mainly due to my father. He is the biggest animal lover, and this is something he has passed on to me. I am lucky to have found a husband who not only indulges my love of animals, but actively encourages it. And when we have children – boys OR girls – they will be raised in a house of animals.


  20. I love these videos. Annie will be so excited! She just goes nuts when you post new videos.

    My father just got a kitten for his step-daughter and we’ve been over playing with it every day. I have so missed having a cat. I think Santa will be bringing Annie a kitten this year!

    I think you’re so right about pets helping teach compassion and caring…if you bond and really develop compassion for animals, you can’t ever hurt them!


  21. I have heard “that’s what boys do”, but that doesn’t pertain to every boy nor does that mean it’s dismissed as an innate behavior. I’m disappointed and frustrated that it is an apt description for my son’s behavior towards our family dog.

    I’m in the frightening position of trying to find a new home for my 9 year old chihuahua for the very reason that my son IS mean to him. I do not hit or kick my dog, but my son does. I did not teach him to do it, and I certainly do not condone it. I have done my best to demonstrate more appropriate behavior. He is better at times, but I’m afraid for my beloved tiny dog as my son gets bigger and stronger that he could unintentionally injure him. He’s not always mean, but he’s just as likely to grab his ears, tail and legs as he is to give him a hug.

    Towards other children, he has not hit or kicked or bit. He is exceptionally loving and doles out hugs and kisses to his favorite friends. In comparison, our friends’ little girl is extremely sweet to animals, but hits, kicks and bites other kids. That doesn’t mean she learned it from her parents. Most kids seem to go through that phase.

    I’m offering a counterpoint since most people seem to think it’s a learned behavior to hurt animals. I disagree. It depends on the child’s personality as well as the environment as to wether or not it continues. It’s just like kids hitting other kids where the boundaries have to be set and adhered to as much as possible. It is awesome that Em is so loving to animals. Some kids are just programmed to be that way and other kids aren’t. I think it is more innate than we’d like to think.


  22. That’s a shame. Sorry you’re dealing with that decision and situation.

    I do want to point out that I wrote: The majority of children aren’t innately hurtful toward animals. I still believe this to be true. And I still believe that most animal abuse is learned by way of one’s parents, guardians or siblings.


  23. I love these videos! It’s adorable when Murray pats Em with his paw. I love how Em tries to feed Murray (in this vid and the last) because I think it’s such a caring gesture.
    On a different yet related note, my husband had a dog when he was a boy, a beagle named Casey. They adored each other. One day Casey escaped the yard and when she came home my husband discovered that someone had shot her with an arrow(!). She died before they could get to the vet. He was devastated and never had another pet. Until he brought home a cat he rescued 2 years ago. Malcolm had been abused and neglected before we adopted him. My husband swore he wanted nothing to do with him, that he was my cat. But then something happened, as Mal got stronger, he started to follow my husband around like a puppy. My husband taught him to play fetch and Mal chose his lap to curl up on more often than not. I think they healed each other. It melts my heart to see the man who didn’t like animals petting the cat who didn’t trust people. :)


  24. I love this video! And you are right in thinking what you did about boys and animals. I have 3 brothers and none of them would EVER hurt any animal…ever! It’s a VERY bad sign when kids harm animals…..it’s not a natural thing…EVER.
    Don’t listen to angry, dumb people out there who just want to attack you because they are behind the safety net of a computer screen.
    You are good and kind and Murray and Em have a great relationship.
    love to you, my fellow cat sister!


  25. (Sorry to keep commenting on all your back posts, I tend to do that when I start reading a new blog :)

    “I can’t change the rest of the world, but I can change my own.” So very true. My son may still have to remember to be gentle with animals, but he has never shown anything towards them but wanting them to be his friends. Maybe I lucked out, but I definitely think that compassion is a mimicked behavior. I hope that as a mother I give him plenty of opportunities to see compassion in action, towards animals and people.


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