Read on Ao3
Tony Stark didn’t do pets.
He never had them growing up, his parents having thought they were a distraction to young Tony’s studies. He wasn’t scared of pets, (well, dogs were pretty big and he would get a little nervous if they got to close) but Tony just didn’t see the need. He already had one little life to protect. Adding a pet on top of that seemed unnecessary.
But Peter’s speech therapist disagreed.
“I think a pet will go a long way with encouraging Peter, and keeping his progress moving.” She had said.
Tony had made the decision to put Peter in speech therapy shortly after his third birthday, when he realized that Peter did understand how to speak, he was just choosing not to. Tony would hear Peter utter small words here and there, but they were always stuttered out quietly, like Peter was almost afraid to speak. Stilted in a way that caused Tony to think that, maybe his kid had anxiety? How a kid could develop anxiety that early on, Tony doesn’t know. Peter was always a quiet child, more of an observer than anything, but the fact that he was going on three-years-old and not babbling to his hearts content worried Tony.
Which led to Tony sitting in the backseat of his Audi next to Peter in his carseat, and Happy driving them to the nearest animal shelter.
When the arrived at the animal shelter, Happy parked the car, and Tony unbuckled Peter’s seatbelt and went to settle him on his feet. Peter shook his head, his grip tightened on Tony’s shirt. Peter never did like straying far from Tony in an unknown place, so carrying it was. Lifting Peter back up onto his hip, the kid tucked his head into the crook of Tony’s neck as they made their way to the door.
The shelter was a small, cute structure, hidden between two large overbearing buildings, its bright yellow colouring the only thing making it stand out from the street. Entering through the door, they were met with a small ding, and a girl, probably late teens, with big glasses and her blonde hair pulled up into a messy bun.
“Welcome to House of Paws Animal Shelter, what can I do for you today?” She said brightly. Clearly she enjoyed her job, no one could fake that cheerful smile.
“I’m, I’m looking something small? My kid’s in therapy… his doctor said an animal would help.” Tony explained.
The girl smiled, Katie, her name tag read. Her eyes softened as Peter glanced at her, his head still half turned into Tony’s neck. “M’kay, like a dog? Or something smaller?”
Tony shifted his gaze down to the kid on his hip, currently filling with the collar of Tony’s jacket. “Probably something smaller, that doesn’t make a lot of noise? He’s sensitive to loud noises.”
Katie smiled and grabbed a set of keys from the desk she previously sat at. “I have just the thing. Follow me!”
She walked down a long corridor, doors on either side, and Tony followed, Peter still on his hip. Reaching one of the last doors in the hall, she pulled out her keys and unlocked the door, gesturing for Tony to go ahead.
Inside the room, it was full of cats.
Well, more like kittens, but they were everywhere.
They were lounging on a couch, one that looked like it must’ve been donated due to the harsh condition it was in, playing with toy mice on the ground, scratching those posts that Tony has only ever seen in movies. There were so many of them.
“This is our cat room. You actually came right around what we call ‘kitten season’, so we have quite a few new ones that were dropped off about a month ago, and some that were born in house.” Katie explained, reaching down to pick up a small orange kitten with white paws, letting it settle on her shoulder and nuzzle under her ear.
Tony smiled as he watched two kittens get into a little scuffle, rolling over one another, looking like one multicoloured ball of fur. Peter’s giggle caused Tony to glance down, noticing that Peter was watching the kittens too, his brown eyes wide with wonder.
“Do you want to play with them?” Tony asked. Peter looked up with a big smile, nodding aggressively, and Tony laughed, letting him down from his hip. As soon as Peter’s feet hit the ground, he dropped down to sit and pet the little kittens that came running up to him. “Just be careful Petey,” Tony murmured, kneeling next to him and resting a hand on his back, “they’re small, so you gotta be gentle.”
Peter simply nodded, petting a small calico kitten that had crawled up on his lap and promptly fell asleep. Tony looked back up at Katie, who was watching the adorable scene of Peter discovering how fluffy and cute cats are.
“So, will a cat be a good option for him? His therapist said an animal, but didn’t really specify which kind.”
“Oh, definitely.” Katie assured. “Cats are actually one of the best animals that you can have for all sorts of mental or physical illnesses. Their purr is especially effective for helping lower anxiety.”
Tony nodded, glancing back down to Peter. Peter had gently removed the calico that was sleeping on his lap, and was now carefully crawling over to a kitten that was sleeping by itself in the corner of the room, a nest of blankets wrapped around it and making it seem impossibly small. It had a thick, furry black coat, and there was some white fur stretching between it’s eyes and trailing down over it’s chin. The front paws were white as well, with the rest of the legs black. At a closer look, Tony noticed it was shivering.
“What about that one, is it okay?”
“Hmm? Oh Oreo? She’s okay, she was born with a neurological disease that causes her to shake. She’s a little on the small side, but we’ve been giving her the extra love and care she needs and she’s doing really well. We’ve even got her walking despite her shakes.”
During her explanation, Peter had reached the kitten and gently started to caress her head with one little finger. The kitten looked up at Peter, the bluest eyes Tony has ever seen on a cat staring up at him, the sweetest meow surfacing as she nuzzled her nose up into his finger. Peter laughed, seemingly not bothered by the small tremors that wracked the kitten’s body, mimicking a meow back at the kitten, then turning to Tony.
“Keep?” Tony’s eyebrows shot up, hearing Peter speak so solidly, though it was only one word. Clearly Peter felt at ease with Oreo’s presence. Tony walked over to Peter, kneeling down and lifting the kitten from her nest, placing her in Peter’s waiting hands. He held his hands close to his chest, Oreo bumping her nose into his shirt.
“Is she okay to bring home now? Is it safe for her?” Tony asked Katie.
“She’s been cleared for adoption, but there are some things that you’ll have to keep up on,” Katie said, “but I think she’ll be just fine where she’s going.”
Tony nodded gratefully, then ruffled Peter’s hair to get his attention. Peter looked up, the kitten now sound asleep in his hands. “We can keep her.”
Peter smiled with all of his teeth, looking back down at the kitten and leaning into Tony’s side. “Hi ‘reo.”
Yeah, if getting a kitten would keep that smile on Peter’s face, Tony was soon going to be the proud owner of the cutest baby kitten there is.