Children and Cats: Important Information for Parents

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Living with a cat can be beneficial to children. Cats can enhance a child’s self-esteem, teach them responsibility and help them to learn empathy.

Selecting a Cat

Under 2 years of age

Over 2 years of age

As a general rule, if your child is under six years old, it’s best to adopt a cat that’s over two years old.

Starting Off Right

Below are some guidelines to help you start off on the right foot. Remember to always supervise small children with your new cat.

Cats and Babies

See our handout: “Preparing Your Pet for Baby’s Arrival”

Remember to be patient. Your new cat may take some time to feel comfortable around your child. Your cat also needs to learn which behaviors on his part are appropriate and which are not. Our handout “Managing Your Young Cat’s Rough Play” outlines procedures for discouraging rough play
and encouraging appropriate play.

Punishing your cat or kitten for inappropriate behavior will not help and is likely to make matters worse. If he learns that being around children always results in “bad things” happening to him, he may become defensive in their presence.

If your cat is growling, hissing, or biting at your child for any reason, the situation needs IMMEDIATE attention. Please refer to our handout “When the Behavior Help Line Can’t Help” for information on where to get further assistance and guidance in this matter.