Nothing can be quite as delightful to a child as a furry friend. Most cats will also like one more person providing the right attention and care. Children and cats can live and play together wonderfully, provided they can respect one another.
Toddlers should never be left alone with a cat. They can be rambunctious and accidentally hurt or frighten a cat. If a cat is frightened, she might bite or scratch. You should always supervise any playtime with your toddler.
All children who are going to come in contact with the cat should be taught some of the basics of handling:
- Always pick a cat up with one hand supporting its chest and the other supporting its hind legs. A cat can also perch with her front legs on your shoulder, but be sure to support her back legs with your arm or hand
- If a cat struggles or tries to get away, let go
- If a cat's ears are flat and its tail lashing then it's not happy and should be left alone
- Don't touch a cat's tummy. It can frighten her and she might bite
- When playing with a cat, always use appropriate toys. Teasing or trying to entice the cat to catch your hands or fingers is not a good idea
- If a cat is sleeping, eating or using the litter box, leave her alone
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 (feeding Hill's® Science Diet® adult cat food, watering and cleaning the litter box), 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.
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. An ideal piece of furniture for a cat is a tall cat perch. 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.