How To Introduce Your Kids To A New Cat Safely And Effectively

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re about to get a new cat and you’re wondering how to introduce your kids to the new pet.

The truth is that there’s no easy way to introduce a kid to a new pet, especially when it comes to the most whimsical, capricious, and sometimes vicious of all domesticated animals – the cat.

Cats are known for their mischievous and crotchety ways. But also for their purrs and loving snuggles.

Felines can be quite dangerous around kids, mainly because kids might not know how to behave properly around animals. They see them as cute furballs and they feel the need to play, hug, squeeze, rub, and pet them every single second of every single day, and they tend to forget that pets aren’t toys, but actual living beings with feelings and attitudes.

Before you make the actual introduction you need to teach your kids a few things and set up proper living conditions for the cat, especially if you’re planning on having an indoor cat.

If your kids are youngsters or toddlers, you should definitely keep your cat indoors, because it will significantly reduce the risks of your kitten bringing some bugs or diseases in your home.

Step 1: Prepare The Kids For A New Family Member

Children can be just as curious and playful as young kittens.

Thus, they’ll constantly want to have the cat’s attention. Unfortunately, the cat won’t like being treated like a doll at every possible minute.

It’s your job to prepare the kids for living with a cat. This means teaching them all about the kitty’s needs – litter boxes, feeding, playtime. What types of cat food does your kitty need? What types of food should the kids never feed it? Why shouldn’t they squeeze and carry it around all day long? Why shouldn’t they tease the cat on purpose?

These are just some of the basic things you need to teach the children. One of the most important things is to make sure they can tell the difference between being affectionate and being annoying.

After all, it’s a feline furball we’re talking about! Even if you happen to stumble upon the calmest and most tolerant cat out there, if the kids are constantly teasing and irritating it, the cat will start fighting back.

The kids must learn how to behave properly around the pet if you don’t want the pet to start behaving inappropriately – even a single scratch on the face can have fatal consequences for a young child.

Step 2: Prepare Your Home

After you’ve covered everything with the kids, it’s time to focus on the rest of the surroundings. This means preparing your home for the kitty’s arrival.

Cats living in a household with children, especially young children, will need a special place where they won’t be bothered and will have the freedom of being on their own – for example, a room that is off limits for the children, or an area which the kids can’t reach.

There are various ways of preparing the designated cat area.

You can get cat houses, decorative cat trees, and tall scratching posts, which are high enough to be out of the kids’ reach.

Your pet should have a special resting place in at least one area of your house or apartment so that it can retreat there, otherwise it will constantly feel stressed, annoyed and on edge. This will lead not only to psychological problems on the cat’s behalf, but could also endanger your kids’ health and well-being, as cats can be quite destructive and vengeful.

Set up the feeding trays and the litter box in a room which kids don’t enter – like your bedroom. This way the cat will know that it has a specially designated room where it can retreat in peace.

Another thing you should consider is cat-proofing your home. This means making sure that there’s no possible way for escaping through doors, windows, fences, and so on.

Step 3: Prepare Yourself

Apart from preparing the kids and the surroundings for the new cat, you’ll also need to prepare yourself for what’s about to happen.

As a grown-up it will be your job to set up a schedule of playtime, grooming, feeding time, training time, and resting time – for your kids and for your cat.

One of the most important things you should consider are allergies. Kids are prone to developing intolerance and allergies towards many things. If they happen to be allergic to cats, or more likely to the Fel d 1 protein, you’ll have to carefully choose the breed of your new feline friend.

Since kids will be kids and they’ll break the rules you’ve tried to set, you should be prepared for everything. Getting accidentally scratched by the cat could be the least of your problems, even though a bad scratch can have truly nasty consequences for a kid.

Forgetting to feed the cat, overfeeding it, or feeding it with improper food like chocolate and other harmful things is also bound to happen, so make sure to keep that in mind.

It may seem like a tough business to raise a cat alongside young children, but don’t let that scare you out of getting a feline pet. Cats can be extremely affectionate and loving and they can teach the kids important lessons like how to be kind and responsible. Always apply the positive enforcement technique and be patient with your children and with your furry pet, and you’ll be rewarded for your efforts.

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Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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