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    Introducing a kitten to young children

    Articlegeneral cat adviceThursday 11 April 2013
    So if you have a young child and you want to bring a new cat or kitten home you may think that all will be fine. There are some things you need to bear in mind especially for your child’s safety so you can avoid anything bad happening. Remember cats are animals and they do not know the “rules” and have same lifestyle as humans. Just like a dog can bite, a cat can easily claw and the last thing you want is your child to get hurt. 
    As a general rule of thumb children under the age of 6 should never be left unsupervised with an animal no matter how gentle it is. Even when the child is past that age you still need to have caution and only when they are gentle with the cat can they be left alone. Any children who display erratic behaviour with animals should not be left alone.
    First of all you need to explain to a child what a cat is. For example what positive features there are and what negative features they must watch out for. Teach your children the ground rules and teach them to play properly with the new arrival. Young children and animals usually go well together but if annoyed in an inappropriate manner the cat can snap. You need to do as much research as possible on the subject. Buy books, look at more articles online. Also find animal related books and give to children so they can understand that there is a fundamental difference between another animal and a human.
    Children need to understand that a cat is more than just a playmate. They are a living creatures that require a lot of attention and looking after. Maybe one way you could do this is by assigning the child a role in the house for looking after the cat. For example making sure the bedding area is clean or providing fresh water every day. This can give your child a sense of responsibility. 
    A useful method could be to ask your children take the role of a "play kitten". Ask your children to get on their hands and knees and pretend to be a kitten. This way they can understand what a cat sees and where it can go. It can give your child an appreciation of how much smaller the kitten is than them.
    If the kitten is new to the house then before introducing the kitten should explore the surroundings to get to know its territory and what lays ahead. It should get used to the environment and the smells of the house for example. Only later will it adapt into a play kitten.
    Touching the cat is important. You will need to teach your child about stroking. There are differences between stroking, patting and hitting. A young child must understand the differences. Also teach them which areas of the body to stroke. The areas you should stroke vary however as a general keep away from the backlegs and tummy as these can be sensitive areas or a cat. It maybe a good idea to buy a stuffed cat as a demonstration tool.
    You will want the first introductions to be short and sweet. Make sure that you as an adult are in full attendance and watching it all. Tell them to be sort and very gentle. The moment the kitten wants to stop having physical attention then let it rest. Kittens are just like small toddlers and will need lots of rest and sleep.
    When playing with the kitten it is advised to use toys rather than hands to start with. Cats can be a little bit heavy and rough before you know it.
    Source: Whiskas
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