Many children want to have a cat for their pet so there is no surprise that you want to get one. A little hairy friend can your kids’ faithful companion and bring them joy. Cats are perfect smugglers, have a mild temperament, and can win over your whole family's hearts in no time.
Owning a pet is a responsibility and kids of different ages respond differently to pets' needs and behavior. No matter how hard your child is begging for a cat, this should be an objective decision. That’s why before you jump into the car all excited to pick up your new family member, there are things you need to consider.
1. What Kind of Cat Suits Your Family
The first option for most families is to get a kitten. However, that can be the wrong choice. American Human Association explained why “Young children may be too rough with fragile kittens. Similarly, young kittens have particularly sharp teeth and claws, which can accidentally injure delicate young children.” Getting an older can is a safer option for your younger kids.
Cat’s temperament is another factor. Introduce your child to the cat first and see how they interact. Take the cat home only if the cat acts comfortably. If it backs away or hisses you should keep searching for the cat that will act friendly with your family.
If you want a specific bread you should learn more about it. Google how that breed acts around children and if it's suitable for your living situation.
2. Are You Financially Ready?
Even if you are not buying a cat there are still many expenses that come with this addition to your family. You've probably considered cat food and litter but what about other expenses?
Are you ready for regular care or paying someone to housesit when you’re out of town? You need to fine with the fact that you may need to give up on buying the best hybrid mattress because your cat got ill and needs expensive treatment. Think carefully about all the costs and ensure that you are prepared.
3. Explain to Your Child What It Means to Own a Cat
At first, most kids don't understand what comes with owning a cat. They see in movies or videos that cats are cute and cuddly but they don't see the consistent responsibilities that come along.
Let your child know that owning a cat is more than petting him. They'll need to feed him, change the litter, take care of him when he's sick, and so on. If they understand all that and accept to take part in all obligations, you're on the right track.
4. Do You Have the Time?
One of the crucial questions is do you have the time to take care of a cat? If your child is too young to take on the responsibilities can other family members jump in? Some families have busy schedules that don’t allow them much room for adjustments.
Cats may not come with as many responsibilities as dogs, but they’ll still take your time. Be aware that you will probably need to alter the schedule based on the cat’s needs. Such as waking up before school or work to feed the cat or taking time to take him to the vet.
Sally Pena, a content editor at TopWritersReview and mother of two shared her experience, “My kids did most of the feeding on their own, but my husband and I still had to share some duties. Luckily, my schedule was flexible so we agreed that I will be the one who will make time when needed,” said Sally.
5. Think about How You’ll Handle Responsibilities
You might think that you’ll divide the responsibilities along the way but that doesn’t always work best. Usually, the outcome is that you waste time on fighting whose turn is to feed the cat.
To avoid miscommunication, you should all sit down and talk about how to divide duties among family members. Many responsibilities need to be handled from checking the water dish regularly to clipping the cat’s nails. Proceed with getting a cat only if you all agree to take part.
6. You Might Need to Teach the Child How to Behave with a Cat
Children that are 4 years old and under don’t have awareness of what will hurt the cat. They won’t know how to hold them or pet them and they’ll most likely try to pick them up or even pull their tail.
If your child unintentionally hurts the cat, the cat might hurt them back. That’s why you need to prepare your child. Teach them the right ways to pet the cat and to approach it with care and tenderness. Supervise them at first until they learn how to play with their pet.
7. Ensure that No One in Your Family is Allergic
It happens that a family gets a cat only to find out that someone in the family is allergic. Then comes the heartbreaking process of giving away your cat. Children start to care for their pets almost immediately so just imagine how hard it would be to take the cat away from them.
You need to know if anyone is allergic to cats before you get one. Each one of your family members should either get in contact with a cat or get tested.
Pets are not toys which is why everyone in your family must be aware of the responsibilities that come with it. Cats will teach your kids how to take care of someone and it will also help them learn how to build bonds. If you find that there are no obstacles to getting your child a cat, congratulations! You'll be getting another family member.
Author’s bio. Daniela McVicker is a psychologist and family counselor. She is also a freelance writer and a contributor to Essayguard. Her passion is writing about leading a healthy family life and helping people enjoy their lives to the fullest.