Introducing Your New Cat to Your Children
By Elaine Waldorf Gewirtz
If you’re adding a cat to the household and wondering how he will get along with your child, don’t worry. With the proper introductions, a few simple rules, and the right supplies, your cat and your little one can form a wonderful bond.
To help your new feline get off on the right paw, schedule a family meeting before he comes home. Talk about how four-legged Fluffy will require some patience and TLC to feel welcome. Chat with your child about how compassion and empathy for her furry friend goes a long way toward winning him over, as does knowing how to approach, stroke, and handle the cat safely.
Show your child how to gently pet the cat’s head and back by lightly stroking your child’s arm as an example. Stress the importance of not touching, grabbing, or pulling sensitive areas such as the cat’s fur, tail, ears, feet, and belly. Teach your child how to pick up the cat under the chest with one hand and support the hindquarters with the other.
Explain to your child how cats use their bodies to express what they’re feeling. In feline lingo, when cats wag their tails it doesn’t mean they’re happy to greet you; it means they’re annoyed. When a cat’s ears lie flat against his head and/or his eyes are wide open, he’s frightened.
Your child should also follow these rules:
1. Quiet voices are a must.
2. Teasing and chasing the cat are off-limits.
3. Touching the cat when he’s eating or sleeping is a big no-no.
4. To prevent getting scratched or bitten, teach your child not to put her face close to the cat.
The cat will need time to settle in, but until that happens, kids should respect his need for privacy. Your cat may prefer safe places to hide, such as the top of a dresser, under the bed, or a gated-off room.
When together, children and cats should always be supervised.
To help your cat feel at home, stock up on a few supplies before he arrives:
- Bedding: Opt for a comfy resting area with a soft blanket.
- Elevated platform: Cats thrive on resting up high and looking down at the scene below.
- Food and water bowls: Stainless steel food and water bowls are attractive and durable.
- Grooming supplies: Cats are self-grooming animals, but you’ll still need a brush and nail clippers to keep your feline looking his best. The Magic Coat® Gentle Slicker Wire Brush is specially designed for cats to eliminate unwanted hair with a gentle touch. The Ultimate Touch® Cat Claw Clipper allows for quick, easy nail clipping.
- Food and water: Your cat deserves quality, nutritious meals, as well as access to cool, fresh water.
- Litter box and litter
- Safety collar and ID tag: If your cat gets out, his collar with ID tag will help him find his way back to you. Your veterinarian can also implant a microchip.
- Scratching post: Look for a strong, rough-textured post, like the Super Catnip® Scratching Post. Your cat will want to stretch while scratching, so choose one that can accommodate his height.
- Toys: Choose safe, interactive toys, like Super Catnip® Crazy Pants.
When your cat feels welcomed into your home with the right supplies, and the kids greet him appropriately, the relationship will blossom.