by Ben Team
Pets are a very important part of childhood. Cats, dogs and other animals not only provide plenty of love, affection and fun, but they also teach youngsters important lessons about life.
That doesn’t mean every kid-pet relationship will be as idyllic as we’d hope, though. Kids can be a source of stress for some pets, and pets may occasionally frighten the young members of your family. These kinds of issues can arise with any pet, but they seem more common among families who are adopting a cat (maybe the claws have something to do with it).
Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help ensure your kids and new cat get along well. Here, we share a few of the most helpful tips.
Teach Your Kids the Proper Way to Interact with Your Pet
Children aren’t born knowing the proper way to interact with a pet cat — you have to teach them the dos and don’ts of playtime. This is especially important for families that are first-time cat owners.
This not only includes teaching them not to tease or roughhouse with their feline friend, but it also means instilling a sense of empathy in them. You have to explain that your cat has feelings, that she can feel pain and that she deserves the same kind of treatment they’d want.
Most children can learn these things quickly, but be sure to supervise all interactions between your pet and your children after adopting a cat. Only allow your kids to play with the cat unattended once you’re convinced that all parties will remain safe.
Make Sure Your Cat Has a Sanctuary
Even the best-behaved children will occasionally annoy your cat, so it’s wise to provide your pet with some type of safe refuge she can use when she’s overwhelmed or simply needs an escape. By doing so, your cat will be less likely to react defensively and use her claws or teeth.
A cat tree with an elevated hiding spot is an excellent choice, but you can also establish a room for your cat that remains off-limits to the children. Even a closet or laundry room would work if need be.
Set Aside Grown-Up Time for Your Cat
Whether you’re adopting a cat or you’ve had your feline for years, set aside some “adult time” for your pet. You could do so at any time of day, but it’s probably easiest to do so during the middle of the day (while your young ones are at school) or at night after they’ve gone to bed.
During this time, try to give your cat the kind of attention she likes best. She may enjoy simply lounging on your lap while you watch TV, or she may like playing with a flirt pole or some other toy. It doesn’t really matter what you do with your cat; you’re simply trying to provide her with some positive interaction during which she can feel comfortable, relaxed and happy.
Don’t Expect Young Children to Care for the Cat
Older children can often handle the rigors of cat care without issue, but young children may begin to resent a cat if they’re forced to do unpleasant things like clean a litter box. For that matter, given the germs lurking in the litter box, it isn’t wise to allow young children to do these types of tasks anyway.
Instead, take care of your cat’s basic needs yourself, and limit cat-children interactions to playtime and general snuggling.
How to Calm a Cat: Relaxed Pets Make for Relaxed Kids
Ultimately, the calmer your cat stays when interacting with your kids, the more likely everyone will get along well. Learning how to calm a cat isn’t always easy (particularly for children or first-time cat owners), but by taking your pet’s personality into account and employing some of the tips discussed above, you can be well on your way.
Some owners have also found that CBD — one of the main compounds found in hemp — helps to keep their feline relaxed. Speak with your vet about using CBD with your cat, and once you get their approval, check out some of the CBD tinctures and chews Heelr has to offer.
Ben Team is a lifelong environmental educator and animal-care professional, who now writes about animals, outdoor recreation and the natural world. He lives in Atlanta, Georgia, with a spoiled-rotten rottweiler, who is probably begging him to go to the park at this very moment.