Tips For Teaching Children to Care for Cats

Teaching Children to Care for Cats

When you think of children and cats, you can be forgiven for immediately thinking about kids pulling cats tails. But empowering children to be involved in cat care can be a positive thing.

Getting kids involved with the day to day care of a cat is a brilliant way to teach them responsibility for life, respect for animals, and other useful life skills.

This extends to any pets. But cats are a little more involved than a hamster, or a guinea pig. You can’t just leave a cat locked up and drop food in twice a day, they require interaction. Kittens in particular can be quite needy.

I have seen children and cats build unbreakable bonds before. Especially children that have learning difficulties, or special needs. Cats can be incredibly loyal companions, it’s not just dogs that fill that roll.

It’s important to mention that children should always be monitored when handling or caring for a cat. As they grow older and more experienced, you can build some trust at your own discretion.

So what aspects of cat care can you involve a child with that they will enjoy and learn from? Below I detail some ideas, and rough guides for what age is usually suitable.

So if you have a cat, and a child. Here is a great way for all three of you in interact, and gain some useful skills.

Teaching Children to Care for Cats

Children Helping with Feeding Kittens and Adult Cats

The starting point should be helping you to feed your cat, or kitten. It’s an easy task, just simply putting out the required amount of food and putting the food away properly.

Watching the cat eat and enjoy their food is a satisfying experience. It helps a child visualize that cats are living creatures, and need to eat and drink water.

As the adult watching over the process, you should be keeping a close eye on:

  • The correct amount of food being out out.
  • Fresh water is also put out.
  • The cat is not teased or made to wait for the food.
  • The food is stored away safely afterwards.

Children Playing with Kittens and Cats

Kittens will play for hours, while adult cats will play too,  it is just a lot less and more so when they want to.

Playing with cats is one of the strongest way to bond and build trust. So allowing your child to play with your cat is a great idea. They both benefit from some excitement, exercise, and fun.

There is a small risk of the child being scratched, so that’s where your observing comes in. But in most instances, you can let them run around with feathers on strings until one, or both gets tired.

As the adult watching over the process, you should be keeping a close eye on:

  • Show the child how to play without getting scratched.
  • Make sure no potentially dangerous items are used as toys.
  • Ensure the cat is safe.

Children Grooming Kittens and Adult Cats

Some cats need to be brushed, while others just enjoy it. Teaching a child how to groom a cat is a valuable skill.

It’s important the child appreciates being gentle with a cat. How to brush the fur in the right way, and how to read signals from the cat.

This is usually something that needs to be watched closely at first. Depends on the temperament of the cat. Most cats are wary of children touching them, but if done correctly it will not take long to build some confidence.

As the adult watching over the process, you should be keeping a close eye on:

  • Make sure the child is being gentle.
  • Ensure the cat is comfortable with the process.
  • Instruct the correct way to brush and why you’re doing it.

Children and Safe Proofing the Home for Kittens and Cats

Living with cat’s means making some changes around the home. When you have a kitten you need to safe proof against the kitten injuring themselves, or causing damage to your furnishings.

You also need to be aware of what food you’re leaving out. I have fallen foul to my cats stealing a bit of chicken on more than one occasion.

As the adult watching over the process, you should be keeping a close eye on:

  • Showing your child why you cannot leave food out.
  • Showing potential places a cat could get stuck.
  • Explaining how cats behave and the possible hazards.

Children and Feline Vet Care

Whenever you take a trip to the vet, showing your child what happens will help put cat safety into perspective.

It’s important that children both value the importance of veterinary care, as well as being reassured that pets are well taken care of.

If you have a friendly vet that’s willing to answer some questions, even better. Anything that helps the child understand the role of a vet.

They may even decide they want to be a vet when they grow up. How satisfying would that be?

As the adult watching over the process, you should be keeping a close eye on:

  • Make sure the child is comfortable with going to the vets.
  • Keep your cat’s anxiety down.
  • Make it a fun and educational trip.

In Summary

Cats are living creatures and not just fluffy balls of fun. They need care and attention, and it’s a huge responsibility owning a cat.

Teaching your child how to care for the family pet is a great way to teach values, responsibility, and skills.