Fostering Purrfect Bond Between Kids & Cats
Cats and children can become wonderful companions as cats provide endless entertainment and companionship to children and vice versa. They are hygienic, easy to care, and usually very tolerant of children. Children, for their part, almost universally, find cats adorable and non-threatening. Besides, cats and children share many traits that adults seem to have forgotten – an insatiable curiosity, a delicious sense of living for the moment, a strong sixth sense and seemingly incurable mischievousness.
Tips for bringing a cat home with children of different ages
Before bringing home a cat, ask yourself the following questions :
- Are you ready to take on the responsibility for a pet? Children may promise you’ll never have to touch the cat, but remember that they are just that – children. Ultimately, it’s up to you to ensure that the pet is well looked after.
- Are you sure the children want a cat?
- Are your children the right age for a pet? If you have babies or toddlers in the house, it’s not going to be easy to explain to them how fragile a kitten is. The kitten may be terrified of screaming children and a too tight hug from a well meaning two-year-old could cause her serious injury. For such a family, adopting an older cat, one that is used to being around children, may make more sense.
Once you’ve decided to go ahead, explain these ground rules to your children:
- A cat or kitten is not a toy, and should not be treated as one. Pulling tails, taunting, teasing and throwing them about are strict no-nos.
- Cats need time to themselves, and children need to understand when to let them be (that includes mealtime, sleep time and potty time).
- Cats are very fast and sensitive creatures and need to be handled with care. Playing hand games, startling them, picking them up suddenly (they need to be gently picked up, if at all, with one hand supporting the hind legs and the other the chest), or rubbing their bellies or rumps could cause them to get agitated and cause them to strike out in defence.
- Cats need looking after, and everyone in the family can share in the responsibility. A young child can help with cleaning and filling the food and water bowls and brushing the cat (under strict supervision). Children must take care that the cat is not let out of the house (if it’s an indoor cat) or locked into a cupboard or drawer. Older children – six years and above, can be taught to clean the litter box and eventually even trim her claws and clean her ears. They can also be involved in visits to the vet.
- And everyone can play – but play safe. Toys like fishing rods or ping-pong balls are safe for children to use when playing with cats, but always with an adult keeping watch.