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My Kids Want A Cat for Christmas: 7 Considerations & Next Steps

Written by: Chantelle Fowler

Last Updated on May 9, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Happy boy sitting on couch and petting his cat in sunny living room

My Kids Want A Cat for Christmas: 7 Considerations & Next Steps


Dr. Ashley Darby Photo


Dr. Ashley Darby

Veterinarian, BVSc

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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While we generally never encourage people to gift animals as a birthday or Christmas gift, there may come a time when you think your children are ready to take on the responsibilities of cat ownership. If you’re wondering, “What should I do if my kids want a pet?” read on for a list of considerations and steps to make it worthwhile for both your children and the cat soon entering your home.

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The 7 Considerations If Your Kids Want A Cat for Christmas

1. Invest in Cat Care Books

Including an age-appropriate book about how to care for cats in your child’s stocking or as part of their holiday gifts is a great way to get your children interested in their new responsibilities as cat owners. Meow! Your Kid’s Book About Caring For Cats is a great introduction to cat ownership for kids ten and up, while How to Care for Your Cat: A Color & Learn Guide for Kids is a fun and interactive read for kids in the four to eight age range. For older kids and teens, we recommend the Complete Cat Care Manual: The Essential, Practical Guide to All Aspects of Caring for Your Cat.

pretty young mother reading a book to her daughter
Image Credit: Yuganov Konstantin, Shutterstock

2. Look for a Cat Together

We highly recommend looking for a cat to adopt together wherever possible versus giving them the cat you’ve selected as their gift. Having your kids be part of the choosing process gives them a feeling of empowerment and may make them more interested in partaking in cat care duties.

If you plan on adopting from your local rescue, go to the shelter as a family. Be sure to give yourselves plenty of time to meet and interact with the available cats and kittens to know you’re making the right decision.

3. Choose the Right Cat

While many kids will be naturally drawn to the curious and fun nature of a kitten, a young cat may not be the best pick for every family. Kittens have infinite amounts of energy and will get themselves into all sorts of trouble. If adopting a kitten purely for the cuteness and squishiness factor, it is important to remember that they grow so fast and will be almost fully developed by the time they’re six months old (though they’ll maintain that kitten energy for a while still).

Adult cats are generally much calmer and less likely to get themselves into trouble. Since they’re full-grown, you’ll already know what you’re getting in terms of their final size, appearance, and personality.

Child playing with cat at home
Image Credit: FamVeld, Shutterstock

4. Think Long & Hard About It

Adopting an animal should never be done on a whim. Cats can live 15 years or more, so you must think of cat ownership as a long-term commitment. Even if your children promise they’ll take part in caring for their new pet, much of the responsibilities will likely fall onto the parent. You’ll also be the one footing the bill for any veterinary care your cat requires, so make sure you have room in your budget for such things. Are you realistically ready and willing to care for this animal if the novelty wears off for your child?

5. Consider Your Child’s Age and Maturity

Before committing to gifting a cat for Christmas, it is wise to consider the age of your children and their maturity level. A teenager, for example, is more than capable of performing all of their cat’s daily requirements, while most eight-year-olds are not.

It’s also important to think about your child’s lifestyle and whether there is any room for a pet in their daily life. Does your child have extracurriculars every day of the week that will take them away from caring for their pet properly? If so, who will be providing the necessities for life for the cat during the school year? Is your teenager about to graduate high school? If so, do you have a plan in mind for what will happen to their pet? Will they take their cat with them to college, or will you be the sole provider moving forward?

6. Prepare for the Kitty’s Arrival

Boy with red cat ones autumn garden background close up photo
Image Credit: Tetiana Yablokova, Shutterstock

If you’ve never owned cats before, you’ll need to spend a fair amount of money right out of the gate on the essentials your new pet will require. To make your search simple, you can check our New Kitty Checklist for a shopping guide. Otherwise, you can do your own research and of products.

This will include things such as:

7. Consider Waiting Until After Christmas

We don’t recommend including the cat as one of your child’s Christmas gifts as it may get mentally sorted into the “toys” category in your child’s mind. Any parent can tell you how excited their kids get over their toys under the tree, only to have them collecting dust in the corner of their rooms a week or two after the holiday excitement has worn off. You don’t want this to happen to your new pet not only because they’re a living creature deserving of love and attention for their entire lifespan but because it can make your child less likely to care for them as they promised to when they were begging you for a cat.

Instead, you can set the stage for the adoption on Christmas day. Write a cute poem to put in their stocking or wrap up some of your cat essentials (e.g., toys), and when they’re confused about why they’ve been gifted toys meant for cats, you can explain that you’ll go to the shelter or breeder together so they can choose the animal they prefer.

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Final Thoughts

While we generally never recommend giving pets as gifts, it can be done if approached responsibly. However, the parents must understand that cats are a 15+ year commitment and that they’ll likely wind up doing much of the care, especially if their kids are younger.

Featured Image Credit: wavebreakmedia, Shutterstock

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