Growing up with a pet can be an extremely rewarding experience for any youngster. Find out how cats and children can live in harmony.
UK animal charity Cats Protection writes in a helpful leaflet on Pets and People:
Cats and children
Growing up with a pet can be an extremely rewarding experience for any youngster. Many children regard their cat as their best friend and it is through this friendship that important lessons are learned – in trust and empathy, care and love – which help children become responsible and caring adults. For an only child, their cat may provide a vital source of friendship and opportunity for play – children often prefer
to share their feelings with a pet rather than another person.
There are many physical benefits for children too and pet ownership can provide a source of comfort during recovery and rehabilitation. A number of studies in the UK and USA report that exposure to pets during infancy may significantly reduce the risk for asthma and allergies in later childhood. Primary school children from pet-owning households are also shown to have lower sickness absenteeism from school.
Learning by experience
From their earliest days, children can be taught to be gentle and kind with cats. Children learn best by example – if you treat your cat gently with love and respect, it’s more likely your
children will grow up to do the same.
As soon as your children can understand, explain that cats like to be left alone when sleeping or eating and that they can become frightened when people shout, make sudden
movements or try to grab them. Children soon learn to interpret the signs of an unhappy cat – the swishing tail, ruffled-up fur or hissing – and will avoid doing things that upset them. Your children will love helping to take care of your cat too, so involve them in the feeding, grooming and playing
routines and you’ll have happy children and a content cat.
Cats feel safer if they can watch events taking place from an accessible high vantage point. Provide your cat with a high window sill, cupboard top or add some cat shelves. This will mean he can still be involved in family life but out of the hectic hullabaloo going on below! Teach children not to disturb the
cat while he is in his safe place, or while he is sleeping, eating or using the litter tray.
Food or litter trays should be moved out of the reach of toddlers, but put some thought into the new locations. Ensure they are still located in a place suitable for the cat, to avoid
any stress or toileting accidents. See the Cats Protection’s Essential Guides on feline behavior for more information.
This short video from Cats Protection simply shows a tender moment between a little girl and a cat:
Read the complete Cats Protection Pets and People guide HERE.