Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Cats and Children

They say dogs are humans best friends, yet there are a lot of us who prefer cats. But what when the child comes in a family, is it safe to have a pet around? 

For many parents, the idea of kids and cats together is an absolute natural. For other parents though, it’s a scary thought that may get the family cat a one-way ticket to the local shelter.

Bringing a new cat into a family with children

Once you have made the decision to bring a cat into your home and have picked out the perfect companion for your children, you should spend some time getting your home ready. Go through and cat-proof your home taking special care to eliminate hazards to a small kitten. Designate an easily accessible yet small childproof area for the cats litter box and food. Have a family meeting and make up a list of rules and duties concerning the new cat and hang it on the refrigerator. Because of the responsibility and potential health risk involved with litter boxes, I always recommend that the parent take on the job of cleaning the litter box.
New kittens and cats are going to need several weeks of quiet time when they are first brought into a new home. Limit play to several short sessions a day and make sure the kitten is not bothered when sleeping. A cat door leading into a quiet room with food, water, litter box, and a sleeping area is a great idea for homes with small children.
Decide where the cat is, or more likely is not, allowed to sleep. While there are many advocates of allowing cats to sleep in the bed with their owners, I caution owners of small children against this practice. While the health risks are small, external parasites including fleas and ticks, as well as the ringworm fungus, can be transmitted from cats to people. If children have allergies, then cats should be discouraged from sleeping with them or in their bedrooms.

Bringing a new baby into a home that already has a cat

The most common concern is whether there is a risk of a cat sleeping with and smothering a baby. Pediatricians have strict recommendations for the type of bed and blankets used, as well as never placing stuffed animals or other toys in the bed with babies or small children. Because of the risk of suffocation, it is never acceptable to allow a cat in the bed of a child under three years of age. In our own home, our cats are not allowed into the children's bedrooms and there is a door that can be closed to keep them out at night.
Some cats have difficulty adjusting to a new baby initially. The new parents are often busy, tired, and focused on the new baby. The cat that was once the center of all the attention has now taken a back seat to the new baby. By anticipating this and the potential problems that could arise, a pet owner should try to lessen the shock by slowly introducing new baby furniture, blankets, etc., over a period of time. After the arrival of the baby, make sure you set aside time every day to groom and play with the cat. The adjustment period may take a month or longer, but almost all cats adjust after a short while. Adding a new cat to the family at this time as a companion for your cat is not always a good idea. A new kitten will just add to the stress of the existing cat as well as taking more of the owner's time away from the cat to care for the kitten.

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