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Cats & Kids: The Important Things to Consider

Parents are always looking for ways to teach their children important life lessons and values. Bringing a cat home can be a great way to do just that! Having a cat in the house can be a fun and enriching experience for your kids as it helps teach them empathy, compassion, and responsibility.

two kids with a ginger kitten
Siri and her new forever family. Adopted through Leaf Animals

Before you decide to bring a cat into your home, there are some important things to keep in mind. First, let's talk about the best type of cat to bring home for your kids.

When it comes to selecting the right cat, there are several factors to consider. Age is one of them, and different age groups have their own unique characteristics and needs.

Young kittens (2-6 months): These cute fur balls might seem like a reasonable option for young children, but kittens this age are still learning how to control their claws and teeth, which means that playtime can unintentionally become rough. Additionally, kittens may scare easily from kids if they are unpredictable and loud, and do not yet have the understanding or gentle touch required for cats.

Junior kittens (7 months-2 years): At this age, kittens are calmer, more independent and better adapted to home living. They are a more manageable option for families and are suited for children ages six and up.

Adult cats (2+ years): This is probably the easiest age to integrate into a family with kids. Given that the cat is well adapted and has a positive history with children.

When it comes to choosing the right cat for your household, it's important to keep some key qualities in mind. Regardless of age, meeting a cat before bringing them home is always a good idea. When there are children involved, it is recommended to choose a cat that is:

  • Calm and confident

  • Friendly and social

  • Not easily startled

  • Enjoys being pet

  • Will be comfortable in a busy household

A tabby Egyptian mau with sleeping on a bed with a toddler.
Mau and her little bother. Adopted through Leaf Animals

If you want your kids to be involved in taking care of their new furry friend, there are many ways they can help!

Teach them to speak cat

Learning to read a cat's body language and to respect its space are the foundation of befriending one and creating a safe environment for all those involved.

  • Always approach a cat slowly and calmly

  • Let a cat sniff your hand and give consent before attempting to stroke it

  • Touch or pet a cat gently on the head and/or neck

  • Avoid petting a cat on the back or stomach (unless it asks you to!)

  • If a cat is scared, let them hide or run away

  • Don't hug, grab, pull, squeeze or corner a cat, ever

  • Remember that an animal is a living soul and can get hurt by or react to our actions.

  • Observe body language and learn to read what a cat is telling you

A sleeping ginger kitten in a curled position
Meshmesha, a tripaw kitten adopted through Leaf Animals

Teach them responsibility

If you want your children to be involved and to begin learning the responsibility of caring for a cat, here are different ways you can safely engage them:

  • Show them how to prepare the cat's food

  • Have them assist you with easy tasks such as grooming and tidying up

  • Involve them in choosing toys and finding ways to entertain your cat

  • Brainstorm ways you can improve your cat's quality of life

Bringing a cat into your home is a big decision, with a little preparation and care, you can ensure that your new furry friend is a happy and healthy addition to your family!


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