Growing up with pets in the family home is wonderful for the entire family, but especially for the children. Have you ever seen how a toddler’s face lights up when they see a dog or a cat? Just by this simple fact it is easy to see how pets can have such a positive effect on children.
Teaching your child to contribute to the family chores from a young age is essential to building life skills and giving your child a sense of responsibility. One of the best duties to give to your young child is looking after his or her pets.
Cats are an ideal choice as a starter pet for your young child. They are easy to take care of and very independent animals that can be very loving.
Getting your child involved in the process from the beginning is always a great idea.
You may have a specific breed of cat in mind and you may want to buy a cat from a breeder, but always keep in mind that there are so many cats looking for a home, so you may want to take your child to choose a cat or a kitten from a cat rescue facility instead.
Getting a rescue cat will give your child an understanding of how many animals are desperate for a good home.
Let your child choose a name for his or her new cat. If your child is very young you may find your cat is just called Cat or that the name is rather odd, but letting your child take control like this will be a wonderful experience.
Dividing up what you need to do, what you and your child can do together and what your child can manage alone is the starting point.
Cat Duties for Adults
You will need to take the cat to be sterilized. If you don’t sterilize a male cat it will probably fight with other males in the area and this can lead to your cat wandering around the neighbourhood looking for a fight. Your cat could get feline aids from fighting.
If you have a female cat she could land up pregnant and then you could have cats that you struggle to find homes for. There is already a big problem with unwanted cats, it doesn’t need to be added to.
Your cat will need a series of vaccinations at certain times, so check with your local vet when you need to be bringing in your cat for checkups and vaccinations.
You will most likely need to keep track of how often the cat gets treated for fleas, and the process for treating fleas. You can get a flea collar, you could use flea powder, you could a spot-on product such as Frontline or Advantage, or you could actually treat your garden for fleas using a product like Diatomaceous Earth.
Always check with you vet to see what products are safe for your cat and also make sure that your child is safe too. Letting your young child near flea powder or spot-on products is not a great idea.
De-Worming your Cat
Your kitten will need to be dewormed every two weeks until the age of 12 weeks and then monthly until 6 months of age. From 6 months old you will need to deworm every 6 months.
It is important to note that you need to deworm your kids every 6 months too and if you have pets you need to deworm every family member including pets at the same time.
When dealing with any sort of medication it is best to do it yourself unless you have a much older and mature child that can do this task. Otherwise get your young child to help you hold your cat while you give the deworming medication so that they are involved in the process.
Cat Duties for Children
Feeding the Cat
This is probably going to be the part that your child enjoys the most. Explain to your child the importance of good nutrition for your cat. Show your child where the cat food is and show him or her how much food to give and at what time of day.
You may need to give younger children a reminder every feeding time, but chances are the cat will know exactly when it is feeding time and let your child know loud and clear if a meal is running late!
Teach your child what treats are fine to give your cat and what will upset the cat’s stomach or cause serious damage or even death. For example chocolate is deadly for cats. Your child must know and understand this.
Grooming your Cat
Cats just love to be brushed making this a great chore for your child and also a wonderful bonding opportunity.
It can also be an absolute necessity. Long haired cats have a shorter life expectancy due to ingesting so much hair, so regular grooming is a must.
Cleaning the Cat Litter
While your child may be too young to successfully fulfill this nasty task alone, it is important that your child comes to understand that there are nice tasks like brushing the cat and there are unpleasant tasks like dealing with cat litter.
If you child is too young to clean the cat litter then make sure your child takes part in some way, no matter how small it is.
Note to mommy: If you are pregnant get daddy to change the cat litter! There is a risk of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can be transmitted through infected cat poop. You could become infected and pass it on to your unborn baby.
You could even look at something like an open-air automatic litter box, this will make the kitty litter task safer for pregnant mommies and not so unpleasant overall.
Playing with the Cat
Cats are incredibly playful and fun creatures. They will need some toys and regular games. This is another great way for your child to bond with the cat.
Taking your child for a trip to the pet store to choose a scratching pole and other kitty necessities will be a very exciting trip for your child. You can get little mouse toys, catnip and loads of other fun things for your child and cat to enjoy together.
The sky is the limit when it comes to fun things to with your cat, just check out some top cat bloggers for inspiration!