We want to make sure your cats and children get along! Cats are known to be excellent pets for children. There may be moments, though, when one or both species require a reminder on how to engage with one another. Use these tips to make it easier for cats and children to get along.
Prepare your children if you're bringing home a new cat
Don't surprise your child with a cat or kitten as a birthday present, especially if the child has never expressed an interest in owning a cat. Adopting a pet is not the same as bringing home a new toy, and you should explain this to your children beforehand.
Discuss the responsibilities that come with owning and caring for a cat. Prepare your children for the possibility that the cat will be unsociable at first. Explain the importance of dedication and patience hence, to give the cat space to adapt to its new environment.
Introduce yourself slowly
Remind your children not to overwhelm their new furry family member once you've taken the cat home. Some cats and kittens react to children right away, while others take a bit longer. It's preferable to provide a child-free zone early on, such as a separate bedroom where the cat can sleep and relax until it feels more comfortable. This room should have everything you need for your cat, including food, water, a litter box, cat beds, and toys.
Set a positive example
When interacting with cats, be sure to demonstrate (or reinforce) proper behavior for your children. Show children how to pet, pick up, and hold the cat with respect. (Keep in mind that each cat has varied preferences in this area.) Explain the rules in a way that is appropriate for your child's age and temperament. For instance: Head scratches are good whilst tail-pulling is bad.
Teach your children about cat body language
Cats are interesting creatures. Even we adults don't always understand why our cats act the way they do or what their body language means, so we shouldn't expect children to understand.
Happy Cat: Eye contact, including "slow blinking"; rubbing the face against you and nearby objects; purring, chirping, and/or meowing.
Angry Cat: Ears pinned backward on the head; dilated pupils; an arched back; a fluffed tail held straight up or a tail lashing from side to side; whiskers held out to the side; hissing or growling are all signs of an angry cat.
Fearful and Nervous Cat: Ears pinned back and held outward; dilated pupils; lying down with tail tucked underneath or tight to the body, or tail held low to the ground; whiskers flattened against the face; hissing or growling; hissing or growling may accompany fear or discomfort; hiding.
Playful Cat: Tail curved like a question mark or twitching/swishing from side to side; running and jumping; purring, chirping, and/or meowing are all signs of a playful cat.
It's still vital to oversee relationships between cats and children early on. Observe them playing together so you may give your child verbal encouragement or warnings. You can separate them and try again later if one or both sides are playing too rough or inappropriately.
Keep a consistent schedule
Both cats and children value consistency in their lives. Ensure regular feeding and napping schedule. Every day, scoop the litter box. Make time every day to play with your pets and children.
Encourage responsibility, but don't put all of the pressure on your children
Cats are excellent pets for teaching your children responsibility because maintaining their basic needs of food, fresh water, and a clean litter box is quite simple. However, a cat should not be left entirely in the care of a child under the age of 13 (or older in some situations).
Instead, assign your child a daily or a couple of weekly cat-related duties. Keep an eye on the situation as It's unreasonable (and potentially dangerous) for your cat to go without food, drink, or a clean litter box when the entire responsibility has been placed on a child's shoulders.
Keep these tips in mind when helping your cats and children in getting along. Cats and children can usually become the best of friends with even a little time, patience, and respect. If the problem persists, consult your veterinarian or an animal behaviorist for assistance.