Are Cats Good Pets for Children?
1 November, 2017

If you are thinking about adopting a cat, but are concerned if they will get along with your children, not to worry.  Cats and children are a great fit for children over 5 or 6 years old.  Having a pet is a great way for kids to have the responsibility of pet ownership, while the cats benefit from the love and devotion of the kids and finding a new home!

When adopting your cat, look for a calm, tolerant cat for your child

If you can find a kitty that has some of the following characteristics, it will start the relationship on a solid foundation. It isn’t always easy to know in advance, but it is best if they are tolerant of loud noises and sudden movements, enjoy being handled and pet, don’t claw or nip when picked up and are relatively sociable.

Take your kids with you when looking for the right cat

Take your kids with you to select a cat.  Look around and ask the adoption or shelter if they have any recommendations of the more tolerant cats.  While everyone loves kittens, it might be best to start with a cat that is at least one to two years old.

Then, start by setting up both the cat and the child for success on their encounter:

Demonstrate to your child how to appropriately meet a cat:

1. Hold out one finger and allow the cat to sniff it. If she tries to rub your finger, that is a great sign! If she backs away or hisses, she is not comfortable. Never force a cat into a situation she isn’t comfortable with — this could spell disaster for the cat and the human.

2. Scratch the kitty all over the head, neck and chin, and then along her back. If she remains relaxed and interested, gently place one hand under her belly and slowly pick up her front feet off the floor.

3. If the cat remains relaxed, gently continue to pick her up as your other hand supports her back legs. Hold her securely against your body as you support her feet, and continue scratching her head.

4. Have your child sit quietly on the floor or in a chair as you gently place the cat in his or her lap. Encourage your child to gently scratch the cat’s head and back.  If the cat becomes uncomfortable or demonstrates “unhappy” body language at any time, gently but quickly set her down or allow her to get down on her own.

5. Most cats do not like to be held for long periods of time, so do not expect her to tolerate it.

6. Don’t allow children to grab, squeeze or hold the cat unnaturally as cats can become injured or scared, which is dangerous for everyone involved.  If a cat flattens her ears, she is unhappy and may strike out.

If everyone is happy with the result, then you have a nice new cat for you and your kids to enjoy and nurture.  Even a meek or shy cat can benefit from the experience and will learn to love your family and become more affectionate.

Other articles you might enjoy:

Adopting a rabbit 

Guinea pigs are great starter pets for your kids!

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