68–71 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Kitten
How to Build a Good Relationship between Cats and Kids
One of the scariest sights your cat may encounter is a small child running down the hall in her direction yelling “Kitty! Kitty!” with his little fingers outstretched to grab a fistful of fur. In order to keep your cat, and your children, from being traumatized by their first encounter, you need to take some important steps:
Small children should always be supervised around cats. A waving tail is an enticing grabby-thing for toddlers, and it's easy for them to forget to “be gentle with the kitty” if they don't get frequent reminders. Even a very young child is still a lot bigger and more rugged than a cat and could unintentionally cause serious injury. A cat may react by scratching or biting if she feels cornered.
Teach your children that the cat is a member of the family who should be treated with gentleness and respect. A cat is not a toy to be dressed up, teased, or restrained. Show your children how to pet with an open hand, and tell them to pet with one hand only so the cat doesn't feel confined. As soon as they're old enough, teach your children how to read your cat's body language and vocalization so they'll learn when the cat prefers to be left alone.
The litter box, food and water dishes, and the cat's sleeping area should be off-limits to young children.
If your kids want to play with the cat, give them a safe interactive toy like a Cat Dancer. Show them how to use it, and supervise them to be sure they don't put it in the cat's face or use it to hit rather than play. Make sure the children give the cat a chance to catch the toy; explain that the cat feels good to have successful captures, just like they feel happy when they win a game.
Show your children how to properly lift and carry the cat. If they aren't big enough to hold the cat's full weight, they shouldn't carry the cat.
As your children get older, they can take on age-appropriate chores such as feeding the cat. When children learn at a young age how to manage, play with, and respect a cat, they become more compassionate and caring, and they place a higher level of value on all life.
Advice from Other Cat Owners
Before You Adopt That Kitten
Before you bring that cute kitten home, please take a good look at your life and ask yourself some questions, particularly if you are young (the highest demographic for pet surrenderers is females, age 18-25).
Remember, cats live for 15-20 years and will need regular vet care for their whole life. Ask yourself, what will I do when I move? Am I willing to go the extra mile to find pet-friendly housing and take the cats along? (Even if your job sends you across the country or into another).
What will I do when I get married? What if my spouse is allergic to the cats, has big unfriendly dogs, or just doesn't like cats? How will I deal with that? What happens when I start having children? Will I be willing to help the cats make that transition during that busy and exciting time in my life? Will I be willing to keep them seperate if my baby is allergic? What happens if I get divorced? (Statistics say that you will). Will I fight to keep my pets during this personal crisis?
These questions may sound ridiculous, but I assure you they are not. The answers to these questions mean the difference between life and death every day- to the tune of 20 million 'No' answers a year (the number of animals surrendered to shelters across the U.S. in a year). It is a big commitment folks, think about it!
~Alex K., owner of Breed Unknown
Introducing Your New Kitten to Your Older Cat
Kittens will most likely get along great because they are so young, although it may take a day or two. My two cats were about 10 months when I brought home two kittens and it didn't go smoothly at all. The young kittens were excited to meet the older cats but the older cats were petrified of them.
What I learned is that cats react to smell and it's best to introduce them that way first. The advice from a cat expert was: keep them separate and give them each something that smells of the other one (towel/blanket etc). Once that goes well, then introduce them physically. It was fascinating because when I presented my cats with the towel smelling like the new kittens, the cats hissed and swatted at it, then ran in fear. Eventually they started to investigate it. You may not need this step but I wanted to share it just in case.
~Cindy W., owner of Breed Unknown