Cats and Kids
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Why You Should — or Shouldn’t — Add a Kitten to Your Family

A child will probably want a kitten rather than a cat, but that might not be best; here are tips.

Angie Bailey  |  Sep 18th 2014


Let’s face it: Kittens are adorable. I could sit in front of a computer and watch kitten videos all day long — I’ve probably come pretty close a time or two. You may commit a few hours to watching silly kittens on YouTube, but the commitment is considerably more serious when you decide to bring one into your home, especially if you have children.

Once your family makes the thoughtful choice to adopt a cat, your child will probably want to go for a cute kitten. I know I did when I was a little girl. I remember bringing home a baby from a box of “free kittens” I passed on the way home from school when I was in first grade. My mom knew we weren’t in a position to care for a kitten, and we returned it to the family who was giving away the kitties. Smart mom, but proof that kids love kittens. Shoot, who doesn’t?

If you’re truly thinking about adding a kitten to your family, there are some points to consider before bringing the baby home. First of all, think about the maturity level of your children. Toddlers can be naturally grabby, creating a possible bad situation for a tiny kitten. Even older children may not possess the demeanor for proper kitten-handling, and a cat is not a toy. Young children should always be supervised when playing with a small kitten.

Speaking of kitten-handling, children should be taught from an early age how to handle cats, and kittens require even more care. Because cats — especially ones new to the home — can be skittish, overly enthusiastic children with loud voices may scare them and start things off on the wrong foot. It’s important to be quiet and gentle with a new cat. Go over proper kitten-handling techniques with your child and then spend some time in the kitten room of your local shelter and observe your child. This will give you a pretty good idea as to whether a baby kitty is a good match for your family. For the safety of the kitten and the child, do not overlook this process.

Another critical aspect to consider is the time your family is willing to commit to the new addition. Kittens need lots of attention and opportunity for socialization, especially if there are already other pets in the home. If your family is constantly on the run, adopting a kitten wouldn’t be a good idea. Plus, young cats, like young humans, are busy and regularly getting into whatever they can get their paws on during nearly every waking moment. If you do decide a kitten is right for your family, you might consider adopting two. Two little ones actually create less chaos because they occupy one another.

If a kitten isn’t the right choice for your family, don’t totally give up on an adoption. Kittens are quickly adopted, but that’s not always the case with older cats. If you do decide to go with an older cat, it’s still important to make sure your kids practice correct cat-handling and possess a gentle demeanor. Remember to do your homework and find out as much as you can about the cat’s past situation. If the kitty was surrendered, there will usually be an information card that tells why the cat was surrendered and if she has experience and gets along well with children and other pets.

Has your family adopted a kitten? What was your experience? Do you have any tips we haven’t included? Let us know 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.