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Cat Chores for Kids: A Great Way to Teach Responsibility

Kids of almost any age can help take care of your cats, and pet-related chores also help kids learn routine and independence.

 |  Jul 10th 2014  |   2 Contributions


I grew up in a household that expected all human family members to help, even in a small way, to take care of our home and the cats who shared it with us. I was hand-washing dishes at age eight (dishwashers in the '70s were a luxury for fancy folk, which we were not), making my bed, sweeping, and helping care for our kitties. As a result, when I moved into my first grown-up apartment, I felt confident my home would not become a total pigsty and my clothing would occasionally get washed. Hey, I was still a college student! And when I adopted my first cat, I felt prepared, confident, and knowledgeable about her care.

As parents, we do our children a serious disservice by not giving them chores so they learn responsibility and self-reliance. With pets in the family, there are definitely opportunities for kids of all ages to pitch in and help with their care. Here are some examples of cat chores for kids, by age.

1. Under 3

Play between a small child and a cat should always be supervised. Photo: Shutterstock

Pick up cat toys

This is a fairly easy one. Toddlers are learning how to pick up their own toys right around this time, so why not have them help kitty collect hers as well?

Supervised play

Young children love to play with cats, and this is great; however, always remember to make sure the play is supervised by an adult or much older child. And before turning the toddler loose with a cat and some toys, go over proper cat-handling techniques. Children of this age should only be handling cats under close supervision.

Giving treats

Kids get a kick out of something as simple as placing a treat on the floor in front of a cat. It's a great idea to personally hand the treat to the child and not give him free reign with the treat bag. "Kitty loved the one treat, so I gave him all the treats!" Nope, not a great idea. So it kind of goes without saying to store the treat bags out of reach of tiny hands.

2. Ages 3-5

Kids and cats can become the best of friends. Photo: Shutterstock

All of the above, plus:

Brushing kitty

Teach your kids to gently brush your kitty. Even short-haired felines need grooming, and this can be a fun way for the preschool-age child to help make kitty pretty and get rid of excess hair. Based on the age of your child, as well as their maturity level, this chore may require supervision.

3. Ages 6-9

Cat-feeding is a great way to teach kids routine and responsibility. Photo: Shutterstock

All of the above, plus:

Feeding and watering

By this age, children can typically assist with feeding and watering. Go over all the details with regard to amounts, and if certain cats require special food. 

Cleaning cats' dishes

If kids are feeding and watering cats, they can also likely assist with keeping their dishes clean. We have a ceramic water fountain that needs to be disassembled for cleaning -- we've never asked our kids to help with this chore. As with everything, assign chores based on your child's abilities and the trickiness of the task.

4. Ages 10-13

Kids of most any age can help brush kitty. Photo: Shutterstock

All of the above, plus:

Scooping litter boxes 

My kids started scooping the cats' boxes around ages 9 or 10. Make sure to demonstrate how to properly sift the clumps and dispose of them in the correct manner -- whatever that means for your household. They can then sweep the excess litter from the floor. Remind them to thoroughly wash their hands after scooping litter boxes.

Taking kitty out on a harness

Some indoor cats enjoy being outside on a harness. My Saffy is a huge fan of her harness. Walking with cats is way different than walking dogs. Cats move more slowly, and you can't "make" them go in any particular direction -- at least that's been my experience. With cats, you just have to follow their lead and be prepared for a leisurely stroll with lots of sniffing, grass-eating, and flopping in the sun. Children need to understand this, demonstrate patience, and not attempt to pull kitty along, which can be uncomfortable and dangerous.

5. Over 13

Older kids can easily handle litter box duty (ha). Photo: Shutterstock

All of the above, plus:

Scheduling vet appointments

As kids get older, they can help with administrative tasks like scheduling vet checkups for kitty. If your cat is ill, it's best for you to call and discuss the symptoms with the vet's office.

Driving chores

Now that my daughter drives, I love handing her the keys and sending her off to buy cat food and litter, or pick up meds at the vet's office.  

Do your kids help with cat-related chores? Which ones? What's been your experience?

Read More by Angie Bailey:

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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.  

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