Indeed, any feline can be suitable for families with children, given their temperament. Nonetheless, some characteristics are ideal when choosing a cat to embrace when you have children at home. For a harmonious home, look for cats with these qualities:
- Comfortable with being handled
- Tolerant of loud sounds and unexpected movements
- Is not overly nervous, shy, or hostile when unprovoked
Educating your child (and your kitten) on how to interact with one another is a time-consuming task that might prove difficult in a bouncy house with rambunctious kids and busy parents. While the possibility of embracing a kitten can be irresistible, you have to be aware that little kids, especially those under five, might be too harsh and too unpredictable for cats. They might unknowingly hurt the fragile kitten or cause them to become rightly and shy in their adult years.
You must find a cat that is comfortable around children. Adult cats around 2-3 years old are great choices. Older kids can do well with cats of every age, from kittens to senior cats. You can search for kid-friendly adoptable cats using online sites such as Petfinder, which can match you to available felines at a sanctuary near you.
Do not forget that individual chemistry is essential to any pet choice. Make sure to visit the sanctuary or rescue facility as a household and observe how comfortable a prospective pet is with your child. You might also want to foster a cat first before embracing the cat entirely and fully into your home.
Suitable Cat Breeds for Children
Some cat breeds are more likely to possess kid-friendly personalities. Here are some cat breeds that are known to be calm, tolerant, and excellent with kids of any age:
- American Shorthair
- British Shorthair
- Exotic Shorthair
- Maine Coon
Ideal Cat Breeds for Older Kids
These cat breeds tend to be more adventurous and active, so that they might be better suited to households with older kids:
- Cornish Rex
Breeds to Avoid
Depending on their personalities, these breeds tend to be more independent and not as tolerant of kids:
- Russian Blue
- Turkish Angora
- Turkish Van
Along with the mentioned breeds, mixed breeds and non-pedigree cats also make fantastic pets for households with kids if they have the personality for it. So don't forget to look into local shelters and rescues in your area!
Introducing Kids to a New Cat
Once you find the perfect cat for your home, you have a crucial role in helping create an effective bond between your pet and kids. When you bring the cat home for the first time, choose a day when it is tranquil and less active. Let the cat stay inside their carrier for a couple of hours in a quiet space, like the bathroom. Afterward, let them stroll about in an enclosed area of the home for about a day. When the cat has established a sense of security in the new space, it's time for slow and gentle introductions!
Tell your kids to give their hands first for the cat to sniff; they can start petting the cat gently. If the cat tolerates this, you can give your child permission to carry it or tell your child to stay on the floor and gently put the cat on their lap.
You can increase the frequency and longevity of these interactions at the cat's pace until the cat feels more comfortable being around your child. You must continue supervising all interactions between your kids and cats as their bond is established.
Some Ideas to Help Your Cat and Kid Bond
With the correct guidance, parents can encourage a strong bond between kids and cats through fun and safe activities and age-appropriate tasks to help impart a feeling of responsibility to your child. You must instill in your kids that they can't just disregard their pet because they are not in the mood to care for them.
Here are some activities to help your cat and kids develop mutual affection:
Naming the cat. As soon as your family members have discovered the purr-fect brand-new enhancement, including your kid in the calling process is a terrific way to obtain them mentally buy their brand-new pet dog.
Help pick food, toys, and bedding. You can encourage your kid to help in choosing things for your new. They'll be more excited to welcome your cat and make your cat feel welcome.
Help to prepare and give food. Little kids can help parents by helping to with providing food and water. However, they should never be left without supervision around your cat's food and water bowls. By age 10-13, kids can be designated to feed and provide water to a feline on a routine. Though it's always an excellent suggestion to periodically check in to ensure your cat is being fed constantly.
Cleaning and litter box care. This activity is best done by older children who know how to do it safely and make sure to wash their hands later. Still, while it's not a duty for little kids, you should encourage them to accompany you while you do it to familiarize your kid with the task.
Offering treats. Giving rare cat-safe treats can be a positive support to enhance the human-feline bond.
Brushing. Not every feline likes to be combed often, but kids can be taught how to gently and effectively brush their cat.
Playing. Marking a 15-minute play for children and cats twice a day is a beautiful way to teach kids to interact socially with cats, promote workout, and foster bonding.
Educating children on how to appropriately play with cats is essential to avoid the risk of accidental scrapes and attacks. Some cat-friendly toys include a feathery wand cat toy and a cardboard box fort. Avoid playing with strings and ribbons because they pose threats if ingested.
Reading. Books are great for teaching children about cats. Younger kids might delight in storybooks about cats, while older ones can learn vital skills, like how to train a kitten or understand feline actions like their "tail language."
Going to the vet. Annual check-ups are excellent opportunities for kids to learn more about what it takes to keep a cat healthy. They might also help them grow as caretakers. Ask your kid to pay attention to your cat's behavior and well-being at home. It might be that your kid notices symptoms and signs before you do.
Kids and Cats: Helpful Tips
With correct preparation, education, and guidance, kids and pets can learn to quadrate each other quite easily. However, both children and cats can be unpredictable sometimes. These guidelines will be helpful to ensure everybody in your house stays healthy, happy, and safe.
Below is a practical list of DOs and DON'Ts you can follow to keep kids and cats secure:
- Highlight to kids that felines are not toys. Instruct children on how to handle cats gently and appropriately to avoid accidental scratches or attacks.
- Urge kids to use gentle voices around cats and prevent shouting or screaming.
- Advise cats on leaping, running, and abrupt activities, especially those that tend to shock or scare the feline.
- Advise kids that many felines do not appreciate tummy massages or being held for too long. Recommend other ways to show their love, like head scratches or playing.
- Tell kids to open up and close doors with care. This can help avoid cats being hurt, locked up, or inadvertently running away outdoors.
- Give space for cats to go, a quiet room or "secure area" if they require a break from the activities. Baby gates can be excellent in this.
- Show children how to interpret feline body language so they know how to recognize fearful or angry body posture and tail movements. But remember that adult supervision is usually required to spot these actions and stop the interaction before injuries happen.
- Keep your pet healthy and up-to-date with their vaccinations to prevent the spread of possible zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be passed between humans and animals). Your cat should be frequently dewormed and treated with vet-approved flea and tick removers. Regular flea prevention helps avoid the spread of Bartonellosis (feline scrape fever).
- Keep kids away from cat litter (along with any kind of sandboxes where a cat might have excreted) to avoid contact with microorganisms and parasites such as intestinal worms and toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes Toxoplasmosis.
- Tell your child to wash their hands after contact with pets, use food or water bowls, and excrement.
- Do not allow cats to sleep in a baby crib or the same area as a baby to prevent accidental smothering.
- Never allow a child to carry a feline unless they can support a cat's weight using both hands.
- Tell children not to rough-house, wrestle, corner, or tease the cat. No striking. No grabbing. No pulling of tail, ears, fur, or feet. If you observe your child repeatedly hurting the cat, consult your pediatrician or a child psychologist.
- Avoid playing video games with cats in the area because they can be attracted to the hands because of quick finger motions. Remember that your furry friends are still predatory, and those wiggly, fast-moving fingers may look like a friendly target.
- Don't physically punish a cat for hissing, growling, attacking, or scratching; a punishment will worsen the actions. Proper training with good support to avoid escalating fear or aggression accomplishes much more.
By following these measures, you're not just safeguarding your child and your pet; you're also cultivating a lifelong bond and a happy relationship that will bring them both years of happiness.