Cats can be a wonderful addition to households with children. I have seen cats become the most loved and cherished friend of many children. If you have children and are trying to decide whether or not to add a cat to your family, or if you already have a cat and are bringing a new child into the a family, then this article may be of help. There are several important considerations concerning choosing the right cat at the right time.
Toddlers should never be left alone with a cat. They can be rambunctious and accidentally hurt or frighten a cat. If a cat is frightened, she might bite or scratch. You should always supervise any playtime with your toddler.
The best way to teach your child how to behave appropriately is by example. Don’t pick the cat up (at least in front of your child), but instead, lower yourself to the cat’s level, saying, “Hello, cat,” and scratching the cat behind the ears and stroking the cat’s fur gently while verbally praising the cat. If the cat walks away, smile and say, “OK. See you later, cat.” If the cat appears to be angry or frightened, say, “Cat wants to be alone right now, let’s go find something else to do.”
If you’re expecting a baby and you already have a cat, there are many things you can do to help prepare him in advance for this major life change. Use your “think like a cat” perspective and imagine how confusing it would be for a cat to suddenly find major changes taking place to his environment (in the form of nursery and baby furniture) and then all of a sudden there’s another person in the home and this person squeals loudly and smells unfamiliar.
Children should definitely play some part in cat care. The extent will depend on how old and how responsible the children are. Certainly, even young children can feed their cat and make sure that the cat has water. Feeding is an almost certain way to any cat’s heart and will help in creating a strong bond between child and cat.