Introducing cats to children.
Welcoming a new fur baby into your home is so exciting, especially for your young child. Who wouldn’t want to play with a fluffy, cuddly moving teddy bear! But one mustn’t forget that these cute, adorable kitties come with sharp claws and teeth, so care and respect is something that needs to be taught early.
Here’s some advice we wrote for Primary Times.
Your first few weeks together as a family will define your entire relationship and is crucial in shaping your kitties behaviour into adulthood, so make every effort to make sure it’s a positive experience.
1. Be Prepared
Make sure you have everything your new kitten needs – do you have a suitable litter tray, cosy bed, carry basket, the correct food, scratchpost? Make sure your child understands that these are for the kitten and they should not be touched, especially the cat litter.
2. Supervised Playtime.
For the safety of your young child and the kitten, never leave them alone together. It’s important they learn the proper way to interact with each other:
- Firstly always let the kitty sniff you first, teach your child to put out their hand and let the cat have a good sniff. Never try and stroke Mr Whiskers immediately or he’ll lash out, this is a good lesson to know when meeting any cat.
- Always gently stroke a cat on it’s head and back, no poking, squeezing or pulling, yes we know it’s so tempting to tug at that tail!
- Talk quietly, no sudden screaming
- Don’t put your face to close
- If the cat runs away, don’t chase it. If it’s sleeping, don’t touch it.
- Introduce fun cat friendly games to play together. There is no need to buy expensive toys, kittens, like children find joy in the simplest things. You could simply scrumple up a small piece of paper to throw or use an old sponge. Chasing an old sock or ping pong ball also make a good game of chase.
- No rough play and make sure your child is taught the difference between teasing and playing.
3. Growing up together.
As your child and kitty grow up together you can start introducing more care and responsibility. Cats are creatures of habit and routine, so introduce that into your child’s routine – like feeding the kitty just before bath time for example.
Lots of gentle play and early socialisation leads to a friendly, well adjusted cat in it’s adulthood
Raising a child alongside a new kitten may seem overwhelming at first, but cats can be extremely affectionate and loving and they can teach your child important lessons like how to be kind and responsible. Always apply the positive enforcement technique and be patient with your children and with your furry baby, and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.
Here’s wishing you and your new fur family and long and happy life together.
You might also like – How to look after a young Kitten