Benefits of Having a Cat for Children
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When you have kids, adding another mouth to feed can seem like an overwhelming prospect, even if it is only a little one. Cats do require responsibility and we need to be financially prepared for their arrival. We also may worry about diseases, fighting and other important health considerations to make when having children and an animal in the same home. Many of these considerations will rule out certain animals for adoption. However, we would never do anything if we only look at the negative. Sometimes, the pros outweigh the cons and adopting a cat into the family might be just what you need.
AnimalWised explains the benefits of having cats for children. We explain why cats are a good idea for kids, although only when we are able to ensure everyone has the right level of care.
Should you adopt a cat if you have kids?
The answer to this question depends on many variables. Children take over our lives, so adopting a pet when we have kids can seem like adding another responsibility onto the pile which isn't worth it. It is much better not to adopt a pet if you can't meet this responsibility of care than to find out afterwards.
Many families will already have a pet animal. While we should do everything we can to keep them in our care, there are circumstances when it simply isn't feasible. For example, if you are a single parent with more than one job, having the time to take a dog for a walk and provide them with appropriate training may be impossible. Although we wouldn't want to, it might be better for someone else to adopt the animal if they are not getting the care they need.
For some families, the pets they already have may preclude adopting a cat. Our guide to helping dogs and cats get along can help, but some dogs are unable to share a home with another animal and maintain their wellbeing.
Generally speaking, most cats do not require the same level of care as most dogs. You will not have to spend time taking them for walks (although it is possible to take some cats walking on a leash) and they do not require as much training. This means cats can be the ideal pet for a family with kids, especially if you already have a hectic schedule.
In this context, it is important to remember not all cats are the same. Some of them need more attention than others. If they do not receive said attention, it is possible they will develop behavioral problems and can even become aggressive. This will differ according to the individual cat. For example, we encourage adopting a cat from a shelter, but some can have trauma which means they shouldn't live in homes with kids.
This is the same when adopting any animal. We need to assess our home and see if they are a good fit. Then we should spend some time with the animal before we adopt and learn how well we will get on. Once these basic considerations are made, having a cat with with kids can be a great idea. In fact, by reviewing our benefits of having a cat for kids, you will see that felines are one of the best pets a kid can have.
Health benefits of having a cat for children
Various studies have been conducted to see both the physical and psychological impact of having pets and babies in the same home. Their results show that their presence in the home greatly can greatly reduce certain health risks. If you want your children to develop their defenses and strengthen their immune system, having a cat is the ideal way to achieve it.
As parents, we try to protect children from everything around them. These include emotional problems such as unpleasant situations, as well as physiological issues such as hygiene. We do not mean that you should abandon your children to their fate and neglect them, but exposure to certain elements can help boost their immune system.
Of course, this is not applicable if your children already have allergies, but having a cat may actually prevent them. One study showed that exposure to certain animals when they were young helped children to avoid allergies when they were older.
In addition, there are many studies that point out that having a cat can prevent cardiovascular diseases. Cats calm our nerves, relieve stress and combat depression thanks to the grounding, calming pleasure of stroking them and hearing them purr. One of the best benefits of having a cat is the emotional improvements they can make in our lives. Life is getting just as stressful for kids and a great way to help ease anxiety later in life is a cat.
Physiological health issues are not the only benefits of cats for children. If you have a child with autism at home, having a cat as a pet could help them to communicate and relate to other people. By relating to a cat, autistic children also have the reassurance of a calming presence. The effectiveness of animal therapy has been proven in many occasions.
Not all the reasons why cats are good for kids are as quantifiable as we have explained thus far. If you have a cat, you will find they create wonderful opportunities for joy. As their personalities develop, you will see they have great capacity for affection and love, as well as a sensibility which is innately funny. Of course, it shouldn't be the reason you adopt a cat, but you may find they even make you popular on social media if you catch the right moment.
Learning benefits of having a cat for children
The cases of abandonment and animal cruelty are not decreasing as the years go by. As a parent, it is our job to teach children to be better people, to nurture their respect and love for animals and to foster empathy toward all living beings.
With a cat at home, your child will learn the responsibility of caring for a living being. Like themselves, they need food, shelter and affection. Your child will feel important by knowing that the cat needs them. In turn, this allows them to participate actively in their pet's care and help them grow up to understand the importance of protecting those in need.
The child will also learn to respect the space of others, as cats sometimes do not want to be bothered. They will become more sensitive and attuned to other people's needs, including learning when it is best to leave others alone. This is something which can be helpful in children who have behavioral problems, but also with any kid that is learning to navigate the world.
Your child will almost certainly love their cat and become faithful companions with them. If their relationship is positive, the cat will become attached to the child as well, watching over them as they would with any member of their clowder (group of cats). If you want to see how you can help this process, take a look at our guide on how to bond with your cat.
Tips to raise a child with a cat
Before deciding to adopt a cat, there are some considerations you will need to make. For adults, this includes finances, space issues within the home and how much time we can afford for their care, among many others. When we have kids, these considerations are multiplied. This is why we want to make the introduction of a cat into the home as smooth as possible. The following are tips to help kids and cats get along:
- Cats are not toys: the age of your child is an important factor when having cats and kids together. Babies will not know the consequences of their actions, so we need to be careful with cats around infants. The child could accidentally pull some hair and result in a nasty cut or worse. For this reason, they should not be left alone together unsupervised. Once the child is able to learn boundaries, shoe them that cats have feelings and are not playthings. This also helps the child to learn responsibility.
- Maintain cat hygiene: most children do not consider germs the way adults do. They will pet a cat then put their hands in their own mouth without thinking. We need to ensure we deworm, vaccinate and maintain general hygiene for the cat to avoid health problems, especially if they have outdoor access. Your child should also be involved in the cat's care to help learn responsibility.
- Teach body language: when the child is sufficiently old, teach they how to understand a cat's body language. This means they should leave the cat alone when they do not want to be petted and generally respect their boundaries. Many cuts and scratches can be avoided with this teaching.
- Get to know the cat: help the child learn the cat's personality and consider their feelings. If the cat does not want to be held, many children may persist in doing so and harm their bond in the process. Also, getting to know the cat is fun and helps children to learn empathy towards others.
- Adopt from a shelter: where possible, adopting a cat from a shelter is best. Not only does it help provide a home for a cat in need and benefit the larger cat population, but it teaches children about animal conservation. It shows the child there are animals in need and we should provide help when we can.
Now that you know the benefits of having cats with children, you may want to know more specifically about infants and felines. Our guide to helping babies and cats live together will provide more.
If you want to read similar articles to Benefits of Having a Cat for Children, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.
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