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Introducing cats to kids: from parenting to pet-parenting

For younger families in our community, we know that the worlds between “parent” and “pet parent” can be incredibly similar. From messy livingrooms to unpredictable emotional outbursts - both children and cats require a lot of attention of their own; but how do you combine the two under one roof? For some families, the choice to adopt a pet often creates a great opportunity for parents to teach their young ones about the importance of responsibility. When adopting a new feline friend from a shelter home, the amount of responsibility taken on can be unequivocally amplified. For this reason, we have done some research to help guide our new pet-owners navigate their way to creating a safe and loving household.

1. Be sure to discuss your new pet For households with younger children, it is important that they understand that this new animal also has thoughts and feelings - and can behave in ways that we do not always understand. Whilst they may already have the basis such as “don’t pull kitty’s tail” down pat, make sure to discuss your new household member. 2. Enforce clear boundaries and interactions with your pet Whether you settle on fun-sized ball of fluff and energy or a mature-aged cat with wise eyes and a softened heart - in some cases our animals have already endured a rocky road to reach the warm embrace of a new home. For this reason, teaching the children how to interact and look after their new friend is pivotal step in the transitioning to their new environment. 3. Encourage recognition of pet’s behaviours and traits In addition to setting boundaries, this step is important to teach your child how to recognise times where it might be unsafe to approach their pet. Practice speaking about how your pet may be feeling when they respond or behave in certain ways and urge your child to recognise them too. Dependent on your child’s age, this may also be a perfect time to use animal-specific dialect to educate your child about their pet. For example, teaching them about kitty’s “predator” instincts and 4. Ensure plenty of positive reinforcement Just as you may when training your new family pet, don’t forget to give praise for gentle and kind interactions with the family pet. By keeping the experience of interaction light and joyful, your child is more likely to develop a more nurturing relationship with the pet. 5. Find a way for the two to create a bond. The friendship between a child and a furry friend can be one of the most rewarding experience in both of their lives. According to Batter Sea, a great way to encourage bonding is to practice non-physical forms of interactions such as playing with cat toys or basic training.

Most parents will understand the sometimes frightening joy of the uncontrollable and unexpected moments in their daily lives. IWhilst there are certain to be bumps and jumps along the way, what you are most likely to find at the end of the path is unwavering bond between your children - both fur and no-fur.

So, what are you waiting for? We have a number of cats just waiting to be snatched up by a new loving family at any time - you can find them here.

Written by Gabrielle Bott-Banas for FFRAQ


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