When it comes to playtime, both kittens and young children are energetic, inquisitive explorers. It’s wonderful for children to grow up with animal companions as part of their family, and as they build a relationship, your kitten will enjoy plenty of fun and games with your kids.
As a parent, it’s important to show your children how to treat a new kitten gently and respectfully. Here are some tips to help you do that.
Introducing a new kitten to your children
Make a calm, gentle introduction between your kitten and your children, so they can develop a trusting relationship.
Once your kitten has settled in and started exploring the house, get your children to sit down calmly and quietly in a room the kitten is comfortable in.
Allow your kitten into the room, while providing an obvious exit point in case they feel the need to run to safety.
When the kitten comes into the room, ask your children to ignore them.
Let the kitten approach your children at their own pace. Don’t make them feel rushed.
Teach your children not to chase or grab for the kitten; they should only touch a cat or kitten if it approaches them first.
Tips for building up trust
Gradually build up the amount of time your kids and kitten spend around each other over the next few weeks.
Encourage kids to interact with your kitten in a way that doesn’t involve direct handling – like playing with a small, soft cat toy on a wand or string.
Start to teach your children where and how they can touch a kitten. For example, they can gently pet the chin, cheeks and in-between the ears, but should avoid the tail and tummy. Take your cue from the kitten and stop if it seems uncomfortable or annoyed.
Don’t leave young children (aged 5 and under) to play unsupervised with a new pet.
During playtime, remind your children not to present their hands or feet as “toys”. Doing this will teach your kitten that it’s normal to bite or scratch hands and feet.
Make sure your kitten always has access to at least one child-free area in the house, like a high perch.
Kittens and kids can be great friends
It's not surprising that children simply adore kittens. But building a bond takes time and trust. Teach your children how to care for this new member of the family; that includes how to interact with them and when to give them space.