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6 Ways to Teach Your Kids Math While Caring for Cats

Ways to practice mathematics in real life situations include adding treats, subtracting fractions of canned food, and counting litter box clumps.

Angie Bailey  |  Mar 5th 2015


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I’ve always been a fan of practical learning. It can be easy to memorize formulas and times tables, but applying them to something useful makes all the difference. Plus, for someone who’s never been much of a math girl, practical application suddenly made all those numbers make sense. And believe me, I need all the help I can get to make sense of numbers.


My daughter and her friend baking a few years ago — go, math!

When it came time for my kids to learn math in school, I decided I was going to weave numbers into our everyday life, the way I did with words and reading. Cooking and baking were excellent activities in which to apply mathematics. I specifically remember seeing the “I get it” look on my daughter’s face when we needed to add 1/4 cup of white sugar to a 1/4 cup of brown sugar. That’s a 1/2 cup! Thanks, sugar!

Caring for cats can present a multitude of opportunities for math applications — and kids of any age can learn a little something. Here are some ideas.

1. Preparing canned food


Cats make math fun! Photo: Shutterstock

Our cats have always eaten a combination of canned and dry food. When we opened up the can, we divided the food into quarters and used that action as an exercise in fractions. From that, we could practice subtraction as we scooped out the sections of food. Younger children can practice counting by stacking the cans of food in the pantry.

2. Preparing dry food


Fractions! Yay! Photo: Shutterstock

If you use a measuring cup to scoop dry food into cats’ bowls, you can again review fractions — this time addition. And the cats will be perfectly patient while you’re doing all this math and they’re waiting for their dinner. Ha! Again, kids just learning to count can count pieces of kibble or number of scoops.

3. Litter box duties (ha ha)


Get the scoop on math. Photo: Shutterstock

Let’s see … what could make cleaning the litter box even more fun? How about math! Actually, adding and subtracting scoops and clumps can make the chore go by more quickly. You could even create multiplication and division equations with litter box clumps! It’s not “new math,” it’s “poo math.”

4. Grooming


1, 2, 3 … Photo: Shutterstock

Remember how Marcia Brady counted the strokes as she brushed her golden locks each night? Why not apply that nostalgic gem to brushing kitty? Heck, you could even make some hairballs from the old hair and create all kinds of equations with that. Will the Bradys ever stop inspiring us? I hope not.

5. Treat time


Math can be a treat. Photo: Shutterstock

Little treat pieces are perfect math tools. You could line up the pieces in rows so they look like a cat treat abacus! OK, this is all starting to get way too silly — useful, but silly. Silly’s good, though. Learning should be fun, and a cat treat abacus just screams “fun”!

6. Playing


Play and learn. Photo: Shutterstock

Any type of play with cats can include a mathematical aspect. Count the number of times your cat jumps or how many catnip mice are in the toy basket. I think we’d need advanced techniques to make math out of our cats’ toys. Yeah, we have quite a few.

Truly, the possibilities are endless when it comes to using cat care as a tool for practicing math. You may be thanking kitty for that A+ on your child’s report card.

Have you ever used cat care as a way to teach another subject to your kids? Tell us about it 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.

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