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How To Introduce Cats To Children

Anyone that grew up with a cat will probably be full of anecdotes about their childhood cat’s antics. For those families that are just about to buy a cat you will witness first hand the loving and caring bond between a cat and her favourite little child.

A young boy cuddling his new furry friend
A young boy cuddling his new furry friend

Young children may range from excited to scared when they are faced with the prospect of meeting a cat. Neither of these emotions are suitable when your child first comes into contact with a cat. Although it is natural to be excited, this can frighten the cat and leave a lasting, negative impression of children.

Meeting A Cat For The First Time

Below are steps you can take to make sure the experience is a positive one for everyone.

A young child holding her beautiful new cat
A young child holding her beautiful new cat

  1. Make sure your child is calm and remind them not to scream or shout when they meet your cat.

  2. If you have more than one child then it is best to introduce them one at a time to your cat whilst your other children wait for their turn. This is to prevent any squabbling which could scare your cat.

  3. When meeting your cat you and your child should sit next to each other on the floor. Encourage your cat over with a couple of treats.

  4. When she comes over you can show your child how to gently stroke her from between the shoulders to the base of the tail. Reinforce that you must be gentle and not stroke too hard or pat the cat.

Holding A Cat

If you are happy with how your children behave when stroking your cat then you can think about letting them hold her.

A little girl holding a cat
A little girl holding a cat

Start by showing how you need to support the cat’s body with both arms when you pick her up.

Make sure your children know that if your cat doesn’t want to be picked up you must leave it alone.

The first step is to have your children sitting on the floor whilst they hold the cat. This will feel more secure for the cat and prevents your child being able to run around with the cat.

If your children are big enough and the cat is still happy they can begin lifting your cat from the ground and holding it whilst remaining still.

A young girl cuddling her beautiful tabby cat
A young girl cuddling her beautiful tabby cat

Things To Expect

  • Fear - Your cat may be afraid of children. Children can be very daunting for a cat and cats will often avoid things that aren’t familiar to them. This is natural, but can be overcome by slow and careful introductions.

  • Overly Excited Children - Some children will be so eager to meet and handle a cat that they will scream, shout and grab as soon as you introduce them. If your child is like this then it is even more important that you explain they must be calm and quiet when they meet the cat.

  • Children Who Are Afraid - There are a few reasons why a child might be afraid of a cat and if they are afraid it really doesn’t matter. Your cat is not dying to meet your child so just take things slowly. Show them from a distance how you hold and pet the cat but don’t force any handling/meetings until the child wants it.

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