Kids who grow up with pets generally develop into more compassionate and empathetic individuals. They also tend to better understand responsibility and exhibit increased social skills. These are just a few of the multitude of reasons why pets make great additions to a human family; however, it’s not just as easy as running out and adopting the first cat who strikes your fancy. The decision to bring another family member into your home is a decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly, and should only be pursued after several considerations — especially if children are concerned.
Here are five things to consider when choosing a cat for you and your kids.
Is your child mature enough to handle sharing space with a cat? This is only a question you can answer because all children are different. My kids were were never grabby or especially loud — thankfully, we rarely experienced toddler tantrums in our house. Both of my kids were born into a home that was already occupied by an adult cat we’d had since his kittenhood, so they’d never experienced a cat-less house. We were also diligent in teaching them to properly handle and share space with cats. When it became time to adopt another cat, we knew they’d be OK.
Families with children who demonstrate loud or unpredictable behavior might not do well with cats, who generally do better with calmer, more predictable environments; however, highly active cats may enjoy the ongoing play provided by busy — yet respectful — kids. Bringing a cat into a home that’s a bad match will undoubtedly result in stress on the parts of the humans and cats. Do your research!
Some cats are just better suited to living in close quarters with small people. If you are adopting a cat from a shelter, make sure and read about the cat’s history before considering adoption — you can generally get an idea of whether or not the cat will get along well with children.
If you are thinking about a purebred cat, there are some breeds that are known to generally be comfortable around children. These are Abyssinian, Birman, Maine Coon, Persian, Ragdoll and Himalayan, among others.
Kid-friendly personality types tend to demonstrate the following qualities:
Bring your child to the shelter or breeder with you and spend time watching your child and the cat engage together. Observe both the child and the cat’s behavior. If the cat willingly approaches the child and acts friendly, that’s a great sign! If kitty acts aggressively, take note! Don’t be afraid to visit with the kitty multiple times prior to making a final decision.
Do you have a busy family? Will you have the time necessary to groom and care for a long-haired cat? Will you and your kids have room in your schedule to properly engage with a cat who requires lots of interaction? These are points to consider when deciding what type of cat to bring into your home.
An adult cat has already moved through that high-energy kitten stage and has settled into her personality and temperament. When bringing home and an adult cat, you are not only taking a chance on someone who may not easily be adopted, you’re pretty much getting what you see. With kittens, there’s still a lot of mystery in exactly how he’ll behave when he reaches adulthood. Plus, kittens can be high-maintenance, perhaps not a quality you’re looking for when already trying to corral a human toddler every day. Additionally, kittens are small and more easily injured by tiny hands.
Do you have any tips for choosing cats that are good with kids? Tell us about them in the comments!
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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food.