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An Open Letter to Parents of Human Kids -- from a Cat

We are furry and cute, but you must teach your children that we're different than stuffed animals.

 |  Jan 24th 2014  |   24 Contributions


Dear Parents,

My name is Gustav and I am writing to tell you what your human compatriots will not. I share my tale in the hopes of improving the interspecies relationships between Felis catus (aka domestic house cats) and the offspring of Homo sapiens (aka kids). Thank you for reading my story.

It all began one fine day when my human was using a device that opened up to display a window with cats inside it. Curious, I walked around this strange device to find that the cats were not on the other side of the window.

I hope that my story will be informative to those of you with children. Himalayan cat by Shutterstock

My human asked me to stop stepping on the “keys,” yet no house keys were to be seen. Eventually, I realized she was talking about the small black squares with strange markings on them. She also referred to the window as a “laptop screen.” 

My human had a curious furrow in her forehead as she watched the animals on the screen. At first, I thought it was because she was watching a video of a dog with a miniature-sized human. I myself have wrinkled my nose up at the presence of these creatures. 

"You think this is funny?" Cat peering at computer screen by Shutterstock

However, I realized she was upset because the small human kept jumping on the dog who was clearly panting in distress. The humans in the video seemed completely oblivious to the dog’s stress and found the situation quite humorous.

Another day, I witnessed my human looking angry. This time, the screen showed a webpage that she visited often, called “Facebook.” She told my other human that one of their friends had stayed overnight with her toddler at a friend’s place and had written, “Thanks for letting the baby torment your cat. ;).”

Perhaps my human was taking the post too literally, but still, she was upset that the “friend” made light of a poor cat being subjected to a child who clearly did not know how to behave around cats. My human was not upset at the baby, but at the parents who found the situation funny and also at the host who would allow a scenario where a child could torment their cat. 

Which creature is tormenting the other? Crying Infant and Cat by Shutterstock

The final horror I witnessed was a video where a toddler was being bathed by his parents. The family cat was lurking nearby when the child reached out and pulled her into the water. The humans in the video seemed to find this quite hilarious. As a cat, I was horrified. Imagine the indignity of getting your beautiful fur all soaking wet!

Thus, I wanted to share three cardinal truths that seem obvious as day to a cat, but may not be so obvious when you are a parent and have your hands full looking after youngsters.

1. Cats are not stuffed animals

While we are furry and cute, your children must be taught that LIVE cats are not the same as stuffed animals. This must be taught in your home if you have a cat or BEFORE you visit a friend with cats.

Unfortunately, the only way I can tell your child that she should not squeeze me tightly like a teddy bear is by hissing, scratching or nipping. If your child is too young to comprehend, then you must supervise her at all times when we are together.

2. We put up with stuff not because we like it, but because we’re desperate for attention

A cat who visits a bathtub with a child is not interested in going for a swim. She is most likely saddened that the attention of her beloved humans is now being bestowed upon the baby. That’s why she will keep coming back even if your mini human bashes her with soft toys, grabs at her tail or pulls her into the tub. 

Your cat probably doesn't want a bath, but she'll hang out with you in the bathroom. Cats at bathtime by Shutterstock

I assure you that your cat does not enjoy these activities. She puts up with them because she is desperate for your company. You would not allow your child to torment a sibling in such a manner, so please extend the courtesy to the cats in your life, too.

I also wanted to emphasize that every cat has a different level of tolerance. While your cat may tolerate the awkward “hugs,” I assure you that many other cats will not.

3. If you tell your child not to pet the cat, your child will try to pet the cat

When you are visiting friends, if they ask that your child not pet the cat, there is a good reason for it. Simply telling your child not to pet the cat does not absolve you of your responsibility. 

Seriously: Don't let kids near the cat unless you know the cat will be happy about it. Child hugging a young Scottish Fold cat by Shutterstock.com

We are so cute that children cannot resist us. For that, I take full responsibility, because being adorable is in my genes. What this does mean however, is that you must keep an eye on your child to ensure that he does not try to pet us when you aren't looking.

While these truths may seem harsh, please appreciate that cats are highly sensitive creatures who might get upset when you move the couch by two feet. Can you imagine what an approaching child feels like to us?

All I ask is for some mindfulness and respect for my needs, too. Hopefully, by knowing my perspective, this will ensure the happiness and safety of both cats and kids alike.

Purrs Truly,
Gustav

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About Holly Tse: Holly Tse is a green cat expert and lifelong environmentalist. Practicing Taoist, Dragon Spirit Guide and Chinese Reflexologist who has experienced more than nine past lives and can bend reality at will. Totally into alternative healing, but her Achilles' heel is reality TV cooking shows. As a Canadian expat, she uses an American spell checker for her Catster articles. Check her out at her Chinese reflexology website.

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