Many people believe that cats and children are like chalk and cheese. Cats like peace and quiet, children like rough and tumble. While cats doze most of the day, children are active all the time. But even though children and cats have different likes and dislikes, they can learn to live happily together so long as the child is taught to respect the cat’s feelings. Older children and cats can be best friends, and even babies and toddlers can get along with a cat.
When choosing a kitten, select one that has been raised in a domestic environment and is used to family life. A kitten brought up in a cattery will have had less human contact and may take a while to adapt.
Some cats carry a parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, that can be dangerous to humans, particularly children and babies. The parasite can be picked up by touching dirty cat litter, so children should not play near the tray or touch the litter. Older children may be sensible, but toddlers often think it is a new kind of sand pit. The infection can pass to an unborn child during pregnancy. It is best that pregnant women do not clean litter trays. If they must, they should wear gloves.
Some people add a child to a family that has previously consisted of a couple and a cat. Others add a cat to a family that already includes children. The two situations can both be happy ones, but they need different strategies.
THE NEW BABY AND CATS
Despite old wives’ tales of cats smothering babies, cats generally pose no danger to newborns. Cats however, like warm, soft places, so baby’s crib is a tempting spot for a nap. To keep your cat out, shut the door or cover the crib with a net.
Adding a cat to the family is a step to be undertaken with caution. You may be left caring for your cat long after the child who begged for a kitten has left home.
A young kitten is very fragile, with delicate bones that can easily be broken It should always be handled carefully.
You should never disturb a cat when it is eating, sleeping or using the litter tray. Make this the first rule of cat etiquette you teach your children.
The family cat can be jealous of a new baby. Be sure to make time to pet and play with your cat after baby is born.
When introducing your child to a cat, you need to make the ground rules clear before the two meet. Explain to your child that a cat is a living creature, not a stuffed toy. By speaking softly to the cat, not moving suddenly, making loud noises or grabbing the cat, a child and a cat can become friends.
BEST OF FRIENDS
Once a cat and a child have got to know one another, the fun can begin. Cats love to play and children can be great playmates. Show your child how to play ball and string games with the cat.
Until the pair are used to each other, always supervise their play. Never leave a toddler alone with a cat. If the cat does get cross, it is likely to use its claws and injure the child. To avoid eye injuries, teach your child not to put its face close to that of the cat. With corn- — mon sense and time for your cat and child to get to know each other, you should have a happy and sociable pet for all the family.