Cats And Children

Cats are valuable companions for children. But children first have to learn to take responsibility for an animal and to respect its needs. You can read here how children of what age can support their parents in caring for the cat and which rules must be in place.

Growing up with a cat has many positive effects on children. On the one hand, they learn early on to take responsibility for another living being, which makes them more self-confident and open-minded. In addition, with a cat at their side, they have a companion for life: cats are soul comforters, psychologists on velvet paws. Their purr is soothing, watching them play is fun.

But with all the positive effects that there are when children grow up with cats, one must not forget the needs of the cat. Children must first be used to dealing with the cat and learn to respect their needs. You have to understand that cats are not stuffed animals. Therefore, you should only get a cat if you have informed yourself in detail in advance and teach your children how to deal with the animal properly.

At What Age is a Child Ready for a Cat?

If the cat is already in the house when a baby is born, the child will naturally grow up with the cat. If you only decide to have a pet once the child is born, it makes sense to wait until the child is about three years old before buying one. At this age, you can already explain to the child that the cat is not an inanimate toy, but a living being with its own needs, which you should not just wake up from, for example, when you feel like playing with the animal. Of course, this can vary from child to child.

Toddler and Cat

Even pre-school children can learn how to handle cats gently and in a way that is appropriate to their species. It is important that the parents instruct the child accordingly, show him how to stroke the cat properly, how to pick it up carefully, and also explain to the child the most important facial expressions and body language signals of the cat.

A pre-school child, under the guidance and supervision of the parents, can also help a little with the care of the cat, for example giving the cat dry food or rinsing out and refilling the water bowl. In this way, the child learns very early on that a pet is not only fun but also work that has to be done regularly.

Children of this age enjoy playing with cats the most. A cat rod, for example, is particularly suitable as a toy, as there is little danger that the child will be scratched by the playful cat. Playing with a small ball is just as popular. Many small children also enjoy cuddling with the cat on the sofa in the evening. Stroking the fur, accompanied by a gentle purr, relaxes and makes you happy.

Older Children and Cat

The older the child gets, the more opportunities there are for interaction between cat and child. The cat often becomes the confidant who listens when the child has problems, with whom one can talk about a teacher who patiently endures when the first lovesickness weighs on the soul, and the young person simply wants to “talk out”.

Many studies have already substantiated the positive influence of cats on children. A cat can work wonders, especially for children in difficult life situations, such as their parents’ divorce or problems at school.

School-age children can gradually become more and more involved in caring for and caring for the cat. This is where feeding and grooming come in handy. It can also learn to clean the litter box every now and then. In this way, the child learns to take responsibility for a living being.

However, children under the age of 16 should by no means be expected to take care of a cat independently and without the help of their parents. So it’s not a good idea to get a cat just “for the kids”. The whole family should be enthusiastic about cats, because most of the work, such as the increased cleaning effort due to cat litter and cat hair flying around, is left to the parents anyway.

Rules for Children When Dealing with the Cat

Parents should set clear rules for handling the cat from the start to avoid the child stressing the cat too much, which could result in aggressive reactions from the animal. For example, they could look like this:

  • If the cat is sleeping or eating, you must not disturb it.
  • You must not tease or hurt the cat, otherwise, it will fight back, scratch, or bite you.
  • The litter box is taboo. It’s not a play sandbox. If the cat wants to go to the toilet, you shouldn’t stop it and you shouldn’t disturb the cat while it’s “doing its business”.
  • The scratching post is a taboo zone. When the cat is lying there, it wants to be left alone.
  • Climbing on the scratching post is prohibited, this not only protects the cat’s resting area but also protects the child from falling.
  • Whether the cat is allowed in the children’s room or not depends a little on the age and temperament of the cat and on the child’s love of order. Young animals like to chew on small plastic toys and can suffer health damage if small parts are swallowed.
  • The situation is similar to the question of whether the cat can sleep in the cot or not. Many parents have hygiene concerns here, but with a well-groomed, vaccinated, dewormed, and a parasite-free cat that only lives in the house, there is not necessarily something to be said against it.
  • The child must learn to be careful not to thoughtlessly lock the cat in a room or the animal may be denied access to the toilet.
  • Likewise, the child should be instructed so that it learns from indoor cats not to simply open doors that lead to the outside.
  • After petting the cat and always before eating or going to bed, wash your hands thoroughly.

Tip: Even with careful handling of a cat, one or two scratches will sooner or later be inevitable. It is advisable to have a disinfectant on hand that does not burn unpleasantly when used. Otherwise, there will be more tears. Octenisept colorless has proven itself here.

A cat bite is always serious because of the germs present in the cat’s oral cavity and the narrow puncture channel left by the teeth. Disinfect thoroughly immediately and, if in doubt, consult a pediatrician, because, despite immediate disinfection, severe inflammation often develops, which requires treatment.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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