Children and Cats Together
Whether you have children already and are thinking of getting a kitty or you have a cat and just found out you’re having a baby – children and cats can live and love and grow together.
Bringing Cats Into a House with Children
Children and cats can be wonderful companions for each other. They can have a loving, playful, endearing relationship as long as you are prepared and educated before bringing cats into a home with children.
Create kid spaces and cat spaces and environments that it’s safe for both to be in without worry. Having a dedicated space, where your children can’t get to, allows a new cat to be in charge of when they are and aren’t around the children. Having some spaces where the cat can’t go gives your children some time alone too, which can be important at the beginning of a relationship.
The most important thing you can teach your child or children is that your new cat is not a stuffed toy, it’s not a plaything that’s only there for their amusement. It’s a living, breathing being with emotions and feelings. The sooner you teach your children about how to love and care for animals compassionately, the more likely they’ll develop a life-long love of these precious companions.
Prepare your cat in advance – number one! Prepare the nursery early, have equipment – like swings or bouncy chairs – out early and have them turned on for a few minutes each day so your cat can get used to the mechanical sounds.
Get on a schedule of playtime with your cat that you’ll be able to maintain once the baby arrives. Don’t make the mistake of going overboard on being attentive to your cat now. Cats thrive on a consistent schedule and familiar routine. Make sure the level of attention to show your cat now will be able to be maintained after the baby arrives.
If you have friends with babies, invite them over so your cat gets used to the crying, cooing, and general baby noises. Once your own baby is home, make sure you keep a constant lookout when your baby and cat are in the same room, so baby doesn’t accidentally reach out and grab your cat by the tail or your cat doesn’t walk or leap on the baby by accident. Because even the most tolerant animal may react defensively if he feels under attack or experiences sudden, unexpected pain from having a tail yanked, fistful of hair grabbed or an ear pulled.
Children shouldn’t be left with the full responsibility of taking care of the cat, even if they grew up together, because cats don’t always have the time or they forget. A cat shouldn’t be left without an empty water or food bowl because a child forgot to fill it. Give them age-appropriate duties, sure, but make sure you are also monitoring things so your cat never suffers.
Model the behavior you want to see in your children in relation to your cat. If you want them to be tender, make sure you’re displaying that very behavior. Let your children see how much you love and how much compassion you have for the animals in your family and you’ll be paving the way for them to do the same.