Having both a child and a cat is often wonderful. You can watch the innocent relationship grow – the cat learning to accept the tiny human’s attention and the kid understanding to respect the cat’s boundaries. It’s not always smooth sailing, though, especially if the cat or child is new to the household. To make sure neither party gets hurt, here’s how to teach your child and cat to get along.
Ensure Your Cat’s Health
An unhappy cat is more likely to be an aggressive one, which can result in nasty scratches. Your first priority, then, is to ensure your cat is as healthy as possible. Regular vet visits are a must, as they’ll be able to see if anything is wrong, but you should also give your cat the healthiest lifestyle possible. That means feeding it a healthy diet, checking for injury, and keeping cats teeth strong and healthy.
If your cat is new to the household, or you are bringing home a newborn baby, you must introduce the two of them slowly. Cats are cautious creatures, and even the friendliest ones may lash out if they feel uncomfortable. Strictly supervise the visits early on, and start without any touching. After some time, you can show your child how to stroke gently.
Teach Your Child Boundaries
For children that are old enough to learn, you must teach them boundaries when it comes to dealing with the cat. For example, touching the tail and belly is usually a no-go, as it petting them too hard. You should also teach your kid to read the cat’s body language; if its tail is wagging or it starts pawing, you should leave it alone.
Reward Good Behavior
Cats and children can have a beautiful relationship, especially if good behavior is rewarded early on. When your kid treats the cat gently and respects its boundaries, be sure to tell them well done. Likewise, if your cat plays gently with your child, throw them a treat or two.
Don’t Leave Them Alone
No matter how much you trust your kid or your fluffy feline friend, you mustn’t leave them alone, at least until your child is old enough to be somewhat independent. Cats sometimes get a little rough when they play and might harm your child even if they don’t mean it. On the other hand, your kid may get too heavy-handed and end up scaring or hurting the cat, which could cause issues with trust in the future. Supervision is a must!
Show Your Kid How to Pet
Children learn through imitation, so show them how to treat a cat by petting it and giving it treats in front of them. Be as gentle as possible to show your kid just how much you should respect it, and you’ll notice that your child is extra gentle the next time they stroke the cat.
By encouraging a trusting and respectful bond between your child and your cat, both of them will grow up with a great friend by their side.