STEP 1: Training Your Child
Some cats enjoy children, but not all felines can tolerate sticky fingers, rough tugs on the tail, or the general boisterousness that accompanies kids. Here are some rules to teach your children about handling a cat:
- Gently approach the kitty to see if he wants to play. If he seems preoccupied with other thoughts or is sleeping, leave him alone until later.
- Instead of wrestling, use teaser toys, rolled up balls of paper, or socks to play with the kitty. If you play with your hands, the cat will think they’re his personal toys and that it’s okay to attack hands and other human body parts.
- Don’t bother your pet while he’s eating, grooming, using the litter box, or napping.
- Show your children the correct way to hold a cat and remind them that if kitty starts to squirm, let him down gently. Don’t try to hang on – you’ll only end up suffering a scratch or nip.
- Stroke your cat’s coat gently in the direction the fur grows. Let your kitten determine what they will allow to be petted. Some kitties don’t like getting petted on their tummies, hips or feet, so it’s best to avoid these areas.
- Cats love having a high place to sit. It can double as a scratching post and can serve as an escape out of the reach of grabby hands.
Advice for Parents
Many parents choose to introduce a family pet as a way of teaching their children compassion and responsibility. This may not actually be such a good idea for younger children. If a child falls behind on the chores associated with the cat, it’s only the cat that will suffer. When deciding to get a cat, make sure that you are committed to the best cat care. This will lead to a happier cat, children and parents.
Supervise your children when they play with the cat.
- Always supervise a child under 6 when she holds a pet. It’s a good idea to only allow a child of that age or younger to be sitting while holding the cat or kitten.
- Never let a young child walk around holding a pet.
STEP 2: Training Your Cat
Cats and children can become such good friends that sometimes your cat forgets your child is not one of his littermates. For example, rowdy play can cause a kitten to nip his brother, and childish exuberance can get the same reaction.
- Discourage hand-biting verbally with a firm “No,” and offer him toys to nibble. If the kitten is still wound up, try a few minutes of kitty time-out in a quiet room.
- Cats should have a ‘quiet space’ where they can be left alone. This may be a room (you might choose to keep the litter box in there as well) or even just a space under a bed.
Cats and Babies
Some parents-to-be can experience an initial feeling of panic, prompting some to get rid of their family cat. Cats and babies, however, are able to live happily and healthily together. While all medical advice should be left to the family’s doctor, this document expels some of the common myths associated with cohabitating newborns and cats.Cats-and-Babies