Cats and children
It's hard to imagine a
time in my life when I didn't have a cat. I had cats before I had children. My
children have also grown up with cats in their lives. When my oldest son moved
out, my youngest son thought he needed a cat, so we adopted Sam for him and they
have been best buddies every since.
If you decide its time to bring a cat into your family or if you are going
places and there are cats, if you have small children, there are things to
remember and steps to take before introducing a cat to your child.
Bringing Home Your New Cat: If bringing a new kitten or cat home for the first
time, they are going to need several weeks of quiet time when they are first
brought into a new home. Limit play to several short sessions a day and make
sure the kitten is not bothered when sleeping. A cat door leading into a quiet
room with food, water, litter box, and a sleeping area is a great idea for homes
with small children.
How To Properly Handle A Cat: Cats should not be picked up by the scruff of the
neck; instead, support the cats hindquarters in one hand and use the other to
support its chest. Hold the cat gently but securely close to your body.
Supervision: Small kids and toddlers can be very rambunctious and want to chase
and yell at the kitty, teach kids to respect the cat, and do not allow them to
chase or corner the cat even in play. The cat may bite if it feels threatened.
Encourage calm, unthreatening interactions between kids and cats.
Privacy: Cats need some
privacy at times too. If kitty is sleeping, eating or using the kitty box, do
not allow children to disturb them.
Do Not Allow Rough Play: Rough play encourages your cat to use its teeth and
claws. Instead, play with your cat using cat toys. You can either purchase
some fun toys or have your kids find a paper bag and let the fun begin. Playing
with your cat (especially an indoor cat) is a good way to help them keep their
weight down. Don't allow kids to tease the cat, show them the difference
between teasing and playing.
Sharing Responsibility: Allow your children to participate in sharing the
responsibility of having a cat. Give them a job they can help with.
Some families will get their cats declawed because they do not want cats
scratching on furniture or scratching small children, but I would plead with you
to please look at other options and do not get your cat declawed. This is a
very painful experience for your cat (even known to cause death from the pain
and shock). It is equivalent to having your fingers amputated.
With proper diet and care, your cat can be a part of your family for many years
and can bring you great joy and lasting memories.
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