The presence of one or several cats in one's home may be a very good thing for the development of one's children. Cats can be something more than mere companions. When children interact with pets, they can learn valuable lessons of altruism, but they also have the chance to practice things such as patience and respect.
Children should be encouraged to take utmost care of the family's pets. This may teach them how to become responsible for themselves, the others, their actions. It's also good for children to learn at an early age how to look after another small being such as a cute, playful pet. Karen Lee Stevens, the founder of the All for Animals Association and the creator of Compassion for Critters animal protection program, says that children should take care of their pets, but still gives certain warnings in this respect. She says that regardless of their best intentions, children should not be allowed to take all by themselves care of their pets. Thus, parents must teach their children by the power of the example, how to feed their pets properly, how to play with them, handle pets, how to treat them in general. Otherwise, parents might have unpleasant surprises.
Children, in their innocence and due to the richness of their imagination, can get dangerous ideas about how to handle a pet. And of course, cats make no exception to this imminent danger. Because of that, parents must know that they are the ones who are ultimately responsible for the cat's well-being, not their children. By acknowledging this simple fact, both cats and children can avoid being traumatized by each other.
Mieshelle Nagelschneider, another cat behavior expert, also agrees with these previously mentioned ideas. She says that by buying a cat, parents must take up the responsibility of looking after it when children fail to do that in a proper manner. Also, she stresses the idea that parents must be perfectly aware of their children's level of responsibility before buying them a cat or any other living creature to play with and look after.
What is the exact age at which a child may be considered capable to look after a cat? According to most experts, even a small baby who does not yet know how to walk can still be a good company for a cat, if both the cat and the baby are under adult supervision. It's essential for all the members of a family to know very well what to expect when a cat comes into their life. Each one of them must have a clue about their level of involvement in the proper care of the pet. It's for everybody's best. Children should also keep a sort of journal where they can jot down any kind of information regarding the proper care of a cat.
Such information may include proper feeding, what is good and what can be poisonous for the cat, what measures must be taken in order for the cats to feel safe and secure in one's home, how to make sure the cat does enough exercise and how the cat needs to be groomed.
Before acquiring a cat, we should first establish certain spots where to place several litter boxes, where to put the food bowls, and also make up a daily cat feeding schedule for children, so as to help them know how to properly look after their cat. Also, if the child is between 3-5 years old, we should know that it's not a good idea to allow such a small child to feed a cat. However, the child may help buy nice toys or other cat products.
Children between 5-7 years old can be allowed to feed the cat, but still under close parental supervision. They can even be taught how to clean the litter boxes, and in this case they must also learn to wash their hands with soap and water after any such operation. Children of this age are also capable of supervising the cat in order for it not to run out of the house. In general, cats can be turned into some wonderful little family members, which prove to be great tools for teaching children how to become responsible.