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Kids and Kittens - The Beginning of Good Relationship


kids_and_kittens.jpgCat introductions are important no matter how old the child. The introduction of a new person into the life of your cat is one that you will not want to rush for the sake of both the cat and the baby or toddler. It is important to keep in mind how different adults are from babies and toddlers. Small children cry, scream, wobble and are much closer to cat level than adults are and much of this can be very frightening to a cat who has not experienced it before. Your kitten may become frightened and hide or become defensive and try to fight the invader off. Neither creates an ideal situation.

Kitty and Baby

There are a large number of myths surrounding cats and babies; don’t be alarmed, your cat will not steal the babies breath. Begin prepping your cat with the same care and consideration you are prepping yourself. Do things in small stages and allow them to explore the new environment  that is being created. Many cats love to sleep in cribs and bassinets or to play with baby mobiles, so you may want to invest in a couple baby gates to keep the cat out of a nursery when you aren’t there to supervise.

Give your cat a pre-show of what it will be like to have a crying baby in the house. Many baby cries mimic the cries of young kittens and this can be distressing for your cat. Keep yourself calm and soothing and allow them to explore. Play with them so they realize that everything is alright even if there is crying going on.

All the sights, sounds and new smells can be quite overwhelming for your cat, so being using baby powder and lotions in advance so your cat can become adjusted to the new-smelling you. You want to do as much in advance as possible so that your kitty is prepared for the new arrival. When the baby is born, bring home a piece of baby clothing or a blanket so the cat can begin to identify the new person sooner rather than later. Consider rubbing a baby sock along the cat and then having the baby wear it fur side out so that they smell like the cat when they come home. Don’t force an introduction, in fact it’s best to be as normal as possible. If the cat comes up to sniff the baby let them. If you keep things normal then your cat will behave normally and adjust to the new person in their family without any trouble.

Remember, your cat was there first and will have to adjust just as much as you will. Make games out of quiet feeding times for your cat so they associate the baby with fun. Offer them love and support and understanding and they will begin to love the baby just as much as you do, and that is the beginning of a beautiful kid and kitty relationship.

Toddlers and Young Adults

Even a cat that has grown up with a baby can be unprepared for the joys of a toddler. That running, shrieking and giggling bundle of child can be quite overwhelming for your kitty. If you are introducing a new cat to a young child, they can be downright frightening.

Cats are usually good at getting themselves out of the way, but a senior cat may need to have some easier to use escape routes if things get to be too much. Don’t forget to praise your cat when they handle things calmly, and to remain calm yourself if your cat gets upset. Punishing the cat will only tell them that a toddler is something bad.

It is important that children understand that cats and kittens are not stuffed animals. They need to be gentle, and they cannot force a kitty to stay where the kitty doesn’t want to stay. They should be encouraged to use inside voices around the kitty so that they don’t startle it, especially when the kitten or cat is first being introduced to the family.

Give a small child a couple of game options. Cats hate to be ignored so consider playing “who can pretend they DON’T see the kitty” and reward the child for just ignoring the cat. This will encourage the cat to come and investigate. Give the child a feather toy to use to play with the cat while sitting so that the urge to chase the cat is abated. Give the child special treats that only they will use with the kitty and let them throw them, one by one, till the cat comes close enough to eat out of their hand, or have them hold out a finger so the cat can touch their finger with their nose. It is important that cats be allowed to choose how the encounters happen and when they end. It is important that children understand that they cannot force the cat to be picked up, held, or cuddled without suffering for it. A cat is an animal and needs to be treated with kindness and gentleness.

Following these steps will help build a strong relationship of trust and understanding between your cat and your child. From Birth to Toddler and beyond, it is important that kids understand how much our pets depend on us to protect them and care for them. There is no better way to underscore that than with a good relationship with the family pet.



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