For children having a pet serves two main purposes. The first is teaching that child to care for and about another living creature and its needs. It teaches children to think about others and be aware of the needs of others. The second purpose is to teach about death. A child learns that everything dies and that this is sad and permanent.
My children have had a lot of experience with this, we have a pet cemetery in our back yard full of beloved cats, hamsters, and even a hedgehog. They know that they must take care of their pets or they will die, they also know that no matter what they do these pets will die eventually, as will everything else. It is sad but they are aware of how precious life is, a good thing.
So yesterday when we came down stairs and saw that one of the hamster's balls was open on the floor, and the cat was down there, we figured death had come again to our happy little friends. We found the hamster, it wasn't moving, its eyes were closed as it laid on its side in front of the stalking cat. It was the hamster of my littlest and she started to cry and her big sister hugged her and went to get some paper towels to wrap it up in.
I stared at it, sad for my baby girl more than the animal itself, and saw it move, just the very slightest breathing. I almost didn't say anything to the girls, i was sure it was well on its way to dead so there was no reason to give them hope that it wouldn't be dead any minute. But i picked it up and it opened its little eyes. I told the girls it was alive, barely and would probably not make it much longer.
I let my little ones say goodbye to the thing and put it in its cage to die, i thought. An hour later the thing is up and around, eating and drinking and burrowing into its bedding! So I am very thankful i hadn't tossed it anyway, figuring death was too close to save and no reason to prolong the sadness of the children by letting it die twice. But it was so close to dead i have to wonder...
Is this a Zombie Hamster? I will watch it very carefully to see if it seems to grow extra fangs and a thirst for brains.