Thanks to Summer Nanny for providing this guest post:
If you’re considering adding a pet to the family, cats can seem like the ideal choice. They don’t have to be taken for walks, housebreaking is a breeze and their largely independent attitude means that they don’t need the same level of attention and companionship as a puppy or even a full-grown dog. Households that count small children among their number, however, should take a few things under consideration before adding a feline friend to the family.
1.Growing Up Together isn’t Always the Best Route – Common advice for parents considering a new pet dictates the addition of a kitten when children are still young. This recommendation is given with the assumption that the two of them will “grow up together.” In fact, adult cats are usually much better choices for young children than kittens. The fragility and delicate nature of a kitten’s physiology does little to protect them from accidental rough treatment, which may be difficult for very young children to understand.
2.Proper Handling is Imperative – Before you adopt a cat, you should make sure that your child is well informed about safe and proper handling. In addition to running the risk of hurting the cat or causing it to become withdrawn, wary and antisocial in reaction to being handled roughly too often, you’re also increasing the chances of a hiss, swat or bite that turns your child off from cats altogether.
3.Supervision is Required – Because cats are typically very independent, it can be easy to forget that they still need to be supervised all the time when they’re in the same room as a young child. If you’re present when a child pets too roughly or picks Fifi up by her neck, you can put a stop to the behavior before someone is injured or gets upset.
4.Declawing isn’t the Kindest Answer – In preparation for bringing a cat into the house, some new owners opt to have their feline friends declawed. What most of them don’t realize, however, is just how cruel and painful the process is for cats. Rather than having a part of the cat’s body removed because you’re nervous about scratched furniture or children, you may just want to reconsider the idea of adding a cat to the family in the first place. The human equivalent of declawing would be the removal of each of your fingers at the last knuckle.
5.Cats Can Help Kids Learn Responsibility – When your child helps to feed and water his new cat, clean the litter box and look after her, he’s learning very valuable lessons in responsibility and compassion. There are plenty of reasons why adding a cat to the family may be the perfect choice for your family, but this is potentially the best.
6.Sharing is Caring, But Not When it Comes to Chocolate – You may be aware of the fact that chocolate is toxic for dogs, but it’s just as dangerous for cats to ingest. Make sure that your child knows that even though she wants to share her chocolate candy, doing so can make her new cat very, very sick.
7.Cat Scratch Fever isn’t Just a Classic Rock Song – If the only thing that comes to mind when you hear the term “cat scratch fever” is an old Ted Nugent record, you’ll probably want to brush up on the subject before you bring a cat into a house with children. Cat scratch disease is caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae, and is spread through bites and scratches from an infected cat. While it’s generally not serious, cat scratch disease can cause fatigue, fever, headache, swelling of the lymph nodes and overall discomfort. If your child is showing any of these symptoms, it’s best to inform his doctor that you do have a cat in the family.
8.The Great Outdoors isn’t All That Great – Your child needs to spend plenty of time outdoors engaged in physically active play. Your cat, however, has a statistically higher chance of living a long life and dying of natural causes if it spends its life indoors. Outdoor cats are much more likely to be injured or even killed by other animals and moving vehicles than their indoor brethren.
9.Patience is a Virtue – When you first bring your new cat home, it’s normal for your child to be so excited that she wants to spend every moment with her new friend. As a parent, it’s important for you to understand that your cat will need time to adjust to new surroundings, and may be a bit standoffish until he’s more comfortable in your home.
Cats are beautiful and gracious creatures with their own individual personalities and quirks. For some families, they’re irreplaceable members of the household that are dearly treasured. Others may find them too aloof and disinterested, depending upon the temperaments involved. Before making the decision to bring a cat home, you should make sure that the lifestyle of your household is conducive to caring for a cat.