Cats can be fantastic companions for young children. They are great for teaching children about empathy, compassion and responsibility. Some cats also form strong bonds with children so that it can be a wonderful experience for the cat.
When it comes to making the big decision to welcome a new pet to the family home, there is often the concern that the children will cause distress to the cat, but this does not need to be the case.
Whether you are considering adopting a cat or would like to educate your children about animal welfare, this article provides some insights into how a cat and children get along.
How To Settle A Cat Into Their New Home
Just like when you invite a new friend over, first impressions count. So take your time when welcoming a new cat into the family home. It is an excellent idea to establish a routine from the outset as cats and kittens like predictability and consistency but also a choice. Here are a couple of ideas you may want to consider to help make the settling in transition a little smoother and help the children and cat get along:
Bring something familiar home
A cat will find it comforting if you can bring something with a familiar scent home. Blankets are a great choice as they can be used as the cat’s bedding in their new home and will make them feel secure.
Create a little safe haven
It is best to introduce the cat slowly to their new home, so start by keeping the cat in a separate room with the door closed. Everything he/she needs should be in this one safe space to allow them to adjust in their own time.
Try to create a secure environment
If the cat appears a little nervous, you may want to consider purchasing a pheromone diffuser. They can be an excellent aid for creating a secure environment for your new cat. Alternatively, you can consider giving your cat all-natural supplements like CBD to help in reading its anxiety. But don’t forget to visit your vet first and use a CBD oil dosage calculator to find the optimal dose.
Share the family smell
You can give them a piece of your clothing, like a scarf or jumper, to help your cat get used to your scent.
Give them plenty of time and space
One of the most helpful things you can do for your new cat is to give them plenty of time and space. Allow them to explore in their own time and approach you or family members when they feel comfortable.
Create A Safe Space For The Cat
It does not matter how confident or energetic your new cat may appear – all cats need a quiet and peaceful space of their own. In this safe space, they can eat, sleep and have some downtime. Create a safe space for your four-legged friend where they will not be disturbed by young children or other family members.
Cats love high areas as it allows them to observe family life from a safe distance. If you do not have appropriate high spaces for your new cat to access, consider adding furniture such as cat shelves or tall cat trees. Your cat will then have an area where they can sleep without the risk of being disturbed by little hands.
Introducing Cats To Young Children
The first step is to have conversations with your children about how to safely and respectfully treat the cat from day one. For example, most children will need to be taught that cats need to be left alone when they are sleeping, eating, or toileting. They will also need to be told about chats being afraid of loud noises and not wanting to be grabbed or held without prior warning.
So that everyone stays safe and happy, the interactions between children and the cat should be supervised. The cat should also have the option to run and hide. Here are some tips to help during the introduction of the cat and young children:
- Be patient and wait for your fluffy family member to settle in and become comfortable with the adults in the household before introducing young children. Then, when the time does come, the child should be sat quietly and in a neutral space.
- Help the child to hold out their hand and let the cat sniff around them. It may be worth giving the cat a piece of the child’s clothing to be familiar with their smell before the first meet.
- Do not force the cat to get close to the child – allow the cat to approach first. They should also have the freedom to leave the room and return to their safe space if they want to.
- There may be a few little meets before the cat feels comfortable with the child. Then, gradually build up the amount of time that the cat and child spend together. You can then allow the young child to play with the cat if they enjoy it.
- If and when your cat is happy to be touched by the child, emphasize the importance of treating the cat kindly, gently, and with respect. You can also show the child how the cat likes and does not like to be touched.
Not all cats will enjoy being around young children, and there are a few simple ways to tell if the cat is not getting along. A cat that is happy and adjusting well to living with children will be eating, drinking, and sleeping well. They will also appear to be relaxed and comfortable – especially when around the children.
There may be a problem if you see their body language change and their behavior changes when near the children. For example, cats that are reluctant to come into the house, be near the children, hide, spray, or be aggressive are likely unhappy.
Some things can be done to help cats that do not appear to be getting on with children. It is possible to help make the cat more comfortable and reduce stress, but you may need some professional help. If all else has failed, a qualified cat behaviorist may be able to help your cat settle more comfortably into the new family home.