According to The American Pet Products Association, American households account for 62 percent of all households with a pet dog, cat, or both. Chances are, if you already have pets and kids, they’ve learned how to get along. But if you’re thinking of adopting a new cat, then it’s worth an overview of kid and cat safety tips. After all, cats have sharp claws and kids aren’t always gentle with cats.
Yet, there’s an easy way around that, and it’s to teach your children how respect cats as living creatures and learn how to interact with them in a positive way.
As you know, it’s not difficult to recognize kitty behavior and know when to give them some space. It is important to recognize the signs. Your kids can have a lot of control because they can learn how to approach and leave the cat alone.
Cats are a Wonderful Opportunity for Children
Friendly cats will trust children who are kind and gentle. If the children are loud and unpredictable, the cat may become withdrawn.
The opportunity then is for the child to learn how to approach a cat in a friendly manner, which may mean not approaching the cat at all, but allowing the cat to come to them instead.
As Hillspet reminds us, “As adorable as she may be, she’s a living companion who has just as many feelings as her human housemates. Even though cats can be afraid of children if they are too rough with them, she will be more likely to love their company if she is treated gently. It’s up to the child to show the cat she can trust them not to cause any harm.”
This is an empowering position. Children as young as 5 years old can be taught to be calm around cats. If the cat is interested, they can let the cat come to them by letting their hands go. Older children will be able to recognize the cat’s body language and know when to give the cat its space. These are valuable lessons for children.
Reading a Cat’s Body Language
Learning to read an animal’s body language is a good life skill to have, and if you’ve spent any time with cats, you know they rarely lash out without warning.
Children of all ages can learn to tell the difference between a friendly cat and one who’s sending “danger” signs. Hissing, a swishing tail, and flattened ears are just some of the common signals that say, “Stay away!”
As you may be aware, cats can often communicate their moods via their ears and tails.
Petfinder.com These are some tips for cat ears. These are three ear positions to watch for that say, “Leave me alone!”
- “Ears turned back – Watch out for this kitty! He might feel upset. [or] over stimulated, so it’s probably a good idea to leave him alone.
- Ears turned sideways or back – This cat is feeling nervous or anxious about something. Be careful around cats whose ears are in this position.
- Ears back and flat against head – This is a sure sign a cat is scared and feeling defensive.
- A cat that has its ears flat against the head could be aggressive or angry. Either way, ears against the head means don’t mess with this guy!”
A happy and relaxed cat will have upright ears or they’ll be slightly turned forward.
The tail is also a sign of trouble. A swishing tail or one that is low between the legs indicate anxiety or irritation. Of course, the famed “Halloween-cat” stance – with the tail upright, fur standing on end, and an angry stare – definitely means leave the cat alone.
When children learn to “read” these signals, they’ll know when to back off and leave the cat alone.
Ground Rules: How Important Are They?
It’s important to use common sense, and establish boundaries with any pet and the people in your household.
A cat’s escape route is a good idea. Whether that’s an open door, a high shelf, or an enclosed cat tree, the kitty can escape if he feels threatened, and this can help prevent misunderstandings.
It all depends on the temperament and age of your cat and your child. While the two species get to know each other, supervision is a good idea. Like any personalities, everyone is different and it’s up to you to facilitate them learning to live together in harmony.