Cats and Children - Information and Advice | Cats Protection (2023)

Cats are a great addition to the family. Find out more about what you can do to ensure cats and children get along.

Cats are wonderful companions for children young and old. Not only are they a great influence, teaching empathy, compassion and responsibility, but also some cats will strike a particular bond with a child.

Deciding to welcome a new pet into your home is a big decision, which is why we’ve created this article to helping kids and cats get along. Whether you’re thinking about adopting a cat or you want to teach your child to care for animals, we’ve covered topics such as choosing the right cats for children, selecting the best cats for toddlers, or what to do if a cat is scared of a child.

Cats and Children - Information and Advice | Cats Protection (1)

The benefits of adopting a cat when you have children

Growing up with a pet is a hugely rewarding experience for many children. Quite often, children prefer to talk to their pets rather than other humans and kids and cats can quickly become best friends. If you’re considering adopting a cat, you need to think about choosing the right kind of cat for the child’s age, your lifestyle, and the cat’s own needs.

You should bear in mind that every cat is unique and has their own likes, dislikes and personality. For example, a timid cat might not be happy in a loud, busy environment. It could make them feel stressed, upset and appear aggressive if they feel threatened, or even start to hide more.

(Video) Cats and kids: dos and don'ts - Cats Protection's Kids and Kitties

Choosing a cat for kids

When choosing the best cats for kids, look for the following qualities:

  • confident and friendly
  • not too stressed by loud noises or changes
  • happy to be stroked and handled
  • calm and curious when meeting new people, especially children
  • a positive history with children or a personality that would suit a busy home environment

If you’re not sure which cat would be best for you and your family, speak to your local Cats Protection branch or centre. We’ll be able to match you to your purrfect feline friend.

Find your nearest branch or centre

Adopting a cat with young children

It’s definitely possible to adopt a cat with young children at home, although it will require extra consideration as balancing the needs of a new pet and small children can be a challenge. As well as selecting the right cat for your home and lifestyle, you should also consider the age of the cat you’re interested in adopting.

It can be tempting to pick a kitten, but kittens and children aren’t always the best mix. Kittens need training, lots of care, and are still learning how to use their claws which makes them more likely to play rough.

They’re also not the best cats for toddlers. Young children can be loud and unpredictable, and they don’t yet understand that fluffy little kittens are not soft toys. Instead, you might prefer to choose a slightly older, calmer cat who can better tolerate young children at home.

You can read heart-warming success stories of kids and cats living together, from real owners, here.

Cats and children can live together peacefully with some help. If you are adopting a cat and have young children, there are things you can do to ensure both are safe and comfortable with one another. Watch our helpful video to see some important dos and don’ts when adopting a cat with young children.

Cats and Children - Information and Advice | Cats Protection (2)

How to settle your cat into your home

First impressions count, so take your time when welcoming a new cat into your home. Here’s a few things you can do to make the transition go smoothly and help your kids and cats get along. Cats and kittens need predictability, consistency and choice.

  • Bring home something familiar – If you can, take some of your new cat’s bedding home, as a familiar scent can help them feel more secure
  • Create a sanctuary in your home – Start slow by keeping your new cat in a separate room with the door closed, with everything they need in one place to allow them to adjust slowly at their own pace
  • Consider using pheromones – A Feliway diffuser can be helpful in creating a secure environment for cats so it’s useful to have one in the sanctuary room such as FELIWAY® Optimum or FELIWAY® Classic
  • Share your smell – Give them a piece of your clothing to help them get used to your smell
  • Give them space – One of the best things you can do is give your cat time and space, let them explore in their own time and approach you when they feel comfortable. Cats need to get used to their sanctuary room first before meeting any family members

It is normal for new cats to feel stressed by the change of being in a new home and it may take some time for them to settle. Refusing to interact, eating less, scratching and spraying are all signs of stress. Be patient with your new pet and if you’re struggling, get in touch with your vet or the Cats Protection team.

Find out more about bringing your cat home

(Video) Adopting a cat with young children - Cats Protection's Kids and Kitties

Creating a safe space for your cat

No matter how confident and energetic your cat may be, all cats need peaceful spaces to eat, sleep and get some much-needed rest. Your cat should have a safe space, ideally in a quiet part of your home, to go to when they need some time alone.

(Video) Cats and babies - Cats Protection's Kids and Kitties

Your cat’s bed and food should be placed away from the busy communal areas of your home, such as the living room or the hallway. If you have very young children who don’t yet understand how important it is for your cat to rest, you could install a baby gate to create a ‘child-free’ space and prevent children wandering in.

It’s a good idea to keep your cat’s litterbox somewhere out of the way. This provides a safe space for your cat to use the bathroom, preventing accidents, as well as stopping children from messing with the contents of the tray, which could make them ill.

Cats love having access to high areas, as it allows them to observe family life but create much-needed space. Adding furniture such as tall cat trees, or even cat shelves, is not just a great place to rest, it also provides your cat a place to sleep far away from grabby hands. Cat shelves in particular can be used effectively to create little cat highways on the wall. This could help them to get from one room to another for example, without having to walk on the floor, and is especially useful in busy areas. Ensure that any high places are easy for your cat to get down from as cats are better at climbing up than they are at getting down!

Introducing your cat to your child for the first time

It’s really important to teach your children how to safely and respectfully treat your cat from day one. Children need to understand that cats like to be left in peace when eating, drinking, toileting or sleeping, they are frightened by loud noises, and they don’t like to be grabbed or handled without warning.

To keep everyone safe and happy, you should always supervise interactions between kids and cats, and give your cat the option to run and hide.

When introducing your cat to your child for the first time, follow these six simple steps.

  1. Go slow! Once your cat is settled in, and is comfortable with the adults in the household, encourage your children to sit quietly in a neutral space, ready to meet your cat. It might be best to keep young children behind a baby gate to make sure they don’t suddenly lunge at your new cat.
  2. Encourage your child to let your cat sniff them (at their own pace) by holding out their hand. You might also wish to give your cat some clothing or a blanket belonging to your child ahead of this first meeting, so they can get used to the smell beforehand.
  3. Allow your cat to approach first. Don’t force your cat to come closer or keep them in the room if they’re scared, they should always be free to return to a safe space.
  4. It might take a few interactions like this before your cat is happy to go further. Build up time spent together slowly and allow your children to play with your cat if they’re willing.
  5. If your cat is happy to be touched, emphasise how important it is to treat your cat kindly and gently. You can also show your child where cats do and don’t like to be touched.
  6. Encourage different activities! Teach your child that they can do more than just pet. They could play with a fishing rod toy, throw bouncy balls for your cat to chase, and even give them treats in moderation. Children make great playmates for energetic cats, and vice versa.

Cats and Children - Information and Advice | Cats Protection (3)

Teaching children to care for cats

Bringing a new feline friend home isn’t just a chance to grow your family, it’s an opportunity to teach your child empathy, compassion, and responsibility.

Teach your child to care for cats by showing them love and respect, and get them involved in day-to-day responsibilities. Encourage your child to help with activities like gentle grooming, playing and feeding. These are all great bonding opportunities to help them get along.

(Video) LIVE: Watch Fifi's newborn kittens grow up!

If your child is old enough, you might also want to teach them the basics of how to handle a cat properly, so they don’t hurt the cat or themselves. Always pick a cat up by supporting their chest with one hand and their hind legs with the other, holding them securely to your chest. If they wriggle or struggle, gently place them on the floor and let them go.

Lastly, you should teach your child how to understand a cat’s body language. This will help them understand when your cat is friendly and ready to play, and when they’re scared or want to be left alone. Swishing tails, ruffled fur and hissing are all obvious warnings to stay away.

However, it’s important to teach them the more subtle behaviour signs when the cat is feeling uncomfortable, such as dilated pupils, ears turned out to the side or back, licking the nose, fast twitching the end of the tail, suddenly grooming a body part quickly or looking away. If the cat is given space at this point, then it means the cat is unlikely to escalate their behaviour to more obvious signs of stress.

How can I tell if my cat isn’t getting along with my child/children?

There are a few ways to tell if your cat isn’t getting along with your children and even if your cat is scared of your child. If your cat is adjusting well to living with children, they should be eating, drinking, sleeping and going about their normal routines.

Pay attention to your cat’s body language. If they seem relaxed and comfortable, especially when near your children, they’re probably fine. But if you spot behavioural changes, a reluctance to come into the house or be near your children, hiding or issues such as spraying and aggression, it’s likely your cat is unhappy.

If you feel that your cat isn’t getting along with your children, there are ways to make them more comfortable and reduce stress. Speak to your vet first to rule out any possible medical reasons, and then a qualified behaviourist from the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (www.abtc.org.uk).

Download: Cats and people guide

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(Video) Preparing your cat for your baby's arrival - Cats Protection's Kids and Kitties

FAQs

What is Cats Protection mission statement? ›

Cats Protection has simple and clear objectives to help cats: Homing - Finding good homes for cats in need. Neutering - Supporting and encouraging the neutering of cats. Information - Improving people's understanding of cats and their care.

Do cats protect children? ›

Cats are often stereotyped as standoffish and aloof, even to the people who love them most, but the truth is that cats can be just as protective of their people as dogs are of theirs. Put simply, cats love their family and their family loves them right back.

Can I have a cat if I live on a main road? ›

If you live in a busy area with lots of traffic, consider only letting your cat out into a secure garden or safe outdoor area so they can't wander onto the road. You can use specialist fencing or large cat aviaries. Get pet insurance.

Why cats are good for kids? ›

Building Companionship

By interacting with cats, kids can learn how to be gentle with animals who are small and delicate. Additionally, the bonds that children create with their feline friends transfer over to the bonds they can form with their human ones.

What is the main goal purpose of cat? ›

The purpose is to provide you with feedback on students' evaluation of course readings. You can use this CAT to find out how motivating, interesting, clear, and useful the readings are to your students. Assignment Assessments ask students to consider the value of assignments to them as learners.

Is working for cat Protection good? ›

How satisfied are employees working at Cats Protection? 73% of Cats Protection employees would recommend working there to a friend based on Glassdoor reviews. Employees also rated Cats Protection 4.0 out of 5 for work life balance, 4.1 for culture and values and 3.5 for career opportunities.

Are cats OK with children? ›

Most cats tolerate children well, however always be cautious and avoid leaving your children alone with any animals. Even if your cat is very affectionate and loves handling, a poke or prod from a small child may irritate him to the point of scratching or biting.

Do cats affect kids? ›

The most common diseases your child could get are: toxoplasmosis - a common infection that's usually harmless but can cause serious problems in some people, particularly pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems. cat scratch fever - causes swollen lymph glands.

How do cats help humans? ›

Cats are beneficial to us from a mental and physical health perspective. Because of a cat's ability to calm us, lower our stress levels, and offer companionship, they are great therapy animals for a wide variety of uses and patients.

What's the longest you can leave a cat alone? ›

Most felines will be perfectly content being left alone for up to 8 hours while you're at work. As long as fresh water is available, some cats can be left alone for up to 24 hours. However, longer or more frequent periods of time away, such as full days or nights away from home can be more disruptive.

Can I go away and leave my cat? ›

First of all, let me say that it's not a good idea to leave your cat home alone untended for extended lengths of time. Though most cats will get along fine if they have a litter box, fresh food and water, accidents can happen. Injuries or illnesses can creep up quickly and may threaten your cat's health if undetected.

Who can look after my cat when im away? ›

There are a number of options to ensure your pet is well cared for when you're away. The best option is to have a friend or family member look after them. If this isn't possible you could use a pet-sitter like Rover, or take them to a boarding establishment.

Why we should protect cats? ›

Keeping domestic cats properly contained is crucial to protecting wildlife. Cats are natural predators – even if they're well fed. Research last year found each roaming pet cat kills 186 reptiles, birds and mammals per year.

What is the full meaning of cat? ›

: a carnivorous mammal (Felis catus) long domesticated as a pet and for catching rats and mice. : any of a family (Felidae) of carnivorous usually solitary and nocturnal mammals (such as the domestic cat, lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, cougar, wildcat, lynx, and cheetah)

What are the 4 types of assessment? ›

A Guide to Types of Assessment: Diagnostic, Formative, Interim, and Summative.

What does CATs stand for in education? ›

In many schools, this takes the form of ongoing teacher assessments or internal tests, but some primary schools opt to use formal tests called CATs (cognitive abilities tests) instead.

Do you get paid for working at Cats Protection? ›

At Cats Protection, we look after our people. We offer competitive salaries and an attractive package of benefits, designed to support the health and wellbeing of everyone who works for us.

How much does the CEO of Cats Protection earn? ›

Salary survey: charity chief executives' pay sorted alphabetically
Cats Protection League *2Derek Conway75,000
ChildLine *2Carole Easton *755,000
Children's SocietyBob Reitemeier *7 *864,000
Christian Aid *9Daleep Mukarji48,790
Christian Vision *10Terry Bennett45,000
59 more rows

What qualifications do you need to work with cats? ›

Two relevant qualifications offered by Animal Courses Direct, complying with Activity Licensing Regulations, which help ensure all centres not only meet the minimum standard but also Higher Standards, are: Level 2 Award in Feline Care and Behaviour. Level 3 Diploma in Feline Care, Behaviour and Welfare.

Should cats sleep with kids? ›

Threat to Young Children

Cats pose a suffocation risk to babies and young kids. If you want your feline friend to be able to sleep in bed with your child, wait until your kids are at least four or five years of age.

Are cats aggressive to kids? ›

Aggressive behavior towards kids of any age can be seen in cats of any breed, size, age, or gender. It can stem from many different motivations. Causes of aggressive behavior include fear, defense, territorial, redirected, play overstimulation, petting overstimulation, pain, and discomfort.

Are cats good for children's mental health? ›

If you have a child with autism, for example, having a cat can improve social skills and anxiety. There has been lots of research and studies into children with autism having cats as pets and how this has had a positive impact. Animal therapy has been proven on many occasions to be a great way to connect with children.

Why are cats afraid of kids? ›

Cats are very sensitive to changes in their environment. Things that we may not even notice or pay attention to can be very stressful to a cat. Different smells, changes in routine, and loud noises can send your cat into a panic. Unfortunately, children tend to be very loud and erratic in their movements.

Are cats safe? ›

Although cats are great companions, cat owners should be aware that sometimes cats can carry harmful germs that can cause a variety of illnesses in people, ranging from minor skin infections to serious illnesses.

What age should a kid get a cat? ›

Getting a pet just to teach a child responsibility is not a good idea. Pet experts recommend that young kittens are not appropriate for children under age five and suggest a child should be at least six years old before having a pet.

Do cats make your life better? ›

Well-being. According to one Australian study, cat owners do have better psychological health than people without pets. On questionnaires, they claim to feel more happy, more confident, and less nervous, and to sleep, focus, and face problems in their lives better.

Are cats good for you? ›

Cats improve your physical health – some of the many health benefits of owning a cat include boosting your immune system, reducing the chance of heart attack, and preventing some young children from developing asthma and allergies.

Should I leave the TV on for my cat? ›

If your TV is on all day when you're home, leaving it on while you're gone may be calming for your cats since it mimics what things are like when you are there. However, if they're not used to having background noise all day, you may be better off leaving the TV off.

Is it OK to leave a cat alone for 3 days? ›

No matter how independent your cat is, we do not recommend leaving your cat alone without daily visits from a friend or a professional cat-sitter for more than two or three days. Today, there are many options to care for your cat while you are away. Keep in mind that, cats tend to be independent, territorial animals.

Can cats see in the dark? ›

They can see very well in low light, however — a skill that gave domestic cats' ancestors an advantage over their prey. As American Veterinarian explains, cats' large corneas and pupils, which are about 50% larger than humans', allow more light into their eyes. This extra light helps them to see in the dark.

Is it OK to leave a cat alone for 2 days? ›

Many cats will be fine on their own for up to two days. However, you need to ensure they have access to fresh food and water at all times. For a one-day trip, filling up their food and water before you leave should be sufficient. But for anything longer, you'll probably want an automatic feeder and waterer.

How can I leave my cat alone for 4 days? ›

How to Leave Your Cat Home Alone
  1. Fill the water bowls with fresh water. ...
  2. Make sure your cat has enough food at their disposal. ...
  3. Scoop the litter boxes and ensure there are enough of them around for your cat to use while you're away.
  4. Kitty-proof your home. ...
  5. Enrich the environment.
16 Jun 2022

Can you leave a cat alone for 8 hours a day? ›

Cats who have been in your household for a few months or years may be perfectly happy home alone for 8 or 10 hours, but they may also become bored, lonely or stressed.

Can you leave a cat home alone for a week? ›

The length of time you can leave a grown-up cat alone depends on the cat, his diet and your environment. Cats who eat dry food that you can make readily available may be left on their own for 24-48 hours as long as fresh water is accessible as well.

Can I leave my cat alone for 11 hours? ›

Most cats are totally okay with being home alone for 8-12 hours with the exception of kittens younger than 4 months, who should really be checked on at lunchtime.

How many days will a cat stay away from home? ›

It isn't uncommon for cats to go missing for 24 hours, especially if they like spending a lot of time outdoors. In some cases, cats can even stay away from home for up to 10 days at a time. We also know of cats that leave home while their humans are away on holiday, returning soon after the family arrives back.

What do cats eat kids? ›

The diet of wild or domestic cats is mainly made up of small rodents, such as mice and rats. Other common prey are moles, shrews, rabbits, and birds. However, these cats will prey on almost any small animal, such as lizards, snakes, and large insects.

How do cats see you? ›

Cats form attachments to their owners that are similar to those that dogs and babies form with their caregivers. You really are more than just a source of food to your cat: A study published Monday finds that cats see their owners as a source of comfort and security, too.

What are cats kids called? ›

A group of cats is called a clowder, a male cat is called a tom, a female cat is called a molly or queen while young cats are called kittens.

Are boy or girl cats better? ›

The truth is that the sex of the cat really doesn't matter when it comes to choosing the purrfect pet for you. Although there are some behavioral differences between male and female cats as they grow from kittens to adults, a cat's genetics and environment play a bigger role in how well the two of you will bond.

Are boy cats easier? ›

Male cats tend to be more social and affectionate with both humans and other cats. They commonly form strong bonds with other cats in the home, even when they are not from the same litter. Females, on the other hand, are often more standoffish. If you are looking for a cuddle bug, adopting a male may be your best bet.

Why are cats so important? ›

Having a feline friend can also help to relieve stress and improve your heart health. Owning a cat can be an extremely rewarding relationship. A cat has the ability to both calm your nervous system and provide an immediate outlet for fun and play.

Are cats very protective? ›

Cats are often stereotyped as standoffish and aloof, even to the people who love them most, but the truth is that cats can be just as protective of their people as dogs are of theirs. Put simply, cats love their family and their family loves them right back.

Why are cats important to the world? ›

From keeping us sane and healthy to protecting foodstuffs from vermin and people from plague, cats have done lots for us.

What is the mission and vision of animal welfare and rights? ›

To promote and provide the resources, education, and programs needed to eliminate the killing of companion animals.” “To build a community where people value animals and treat them with respect and kindness.”

What were the cats fighting for? ›

Why do cats fight? Territory: Cats are territorial animals and they will often fight to defend what they believe is their territory. This is most common with cat fights that happen outside the house, where your cat believes another cat has encroached on their land.

What type of Organisational structure does Cats Protection have? ›

Cats Protection is an unincorporated charitable association founded on 16 May 1927.

Why is it important to respect animal welfare? ›

Animal welfare is important because there are so many animals around the world suffering from being used for entertainment, food, medicine, fashion, scientific advancement, and as exotic pets. Every animal deserves to have a good life where they enjoy the benefits of the Five Domains.

What are the main points of the animal welfare Act? ›

The key elements of the act are to: Reduce animal suffering by enabling preventive action to be taken before suffering occurs. Place on people who are responsible for domestic and companion animals a duty requiring them to do all that is reasonable to ensure the welfare of their animals.

Why does my cat bite me? ›

Cats bite because they are fearful, stressed, or frustrated. They do not act out of spite or anger. There is always a good reason (in their mind) behind the behavior.

Do cats get jealous? ›

Jealousy over the presence of another cat is very common. All cats have different personalities, and some will be made insecure and display jealousy more easily than others. It is important to watch your cat and observe their cues and triggers.

How do you stop other cats? ›

10 Ways To Stop Cats Coming To Your Garden
  1. Keep your garden clean. ...
  2. Use a microchipped cat flap on your cat's outdoor shelter. ...
  3. Create uncomfortable surfaces in your garden. ...
  4. Introduce smelly plants in your garden. ...
  5. Use other pungent products. ...
  6. Create a cat-friendly area. ...
  7. Use noise to deter cats. ...
  8. Invest in wall spikes.
6 Feb 2021

Who is the highest paid charity CEO in UK? ›

CEO compensation among charities in the United Kingdom
CharityCEO salary (£)CEO name
British Red Cross173,000Mike Adamson
Cancer Research UK240,000Harpal Kumar
Macmillan Cancer Support170,000Ciarán Devane
NSPCC162,000Peter Wanless
19 more rows

What's the best cat charity? ›

These Are the 9 Best Charities for Domestic Cats
  • Best Friends Animal Society.
  • Alley Cat Allies.
  • Morris Animal Foundation.
  • International Cat Care.
  • PetSmart Charities.
  • North Shore Animal League America.
  • Petco Love.
  • Senior Cat Action Network.

Is cat Protection government funded? ›

The charity receives no government funding so is extremely grateful for the public's support and generosity at this very difficult time for cat owners and cat charities.”

How many employees does Cats Protection have? ›

Its network had 36 centres, 250+ volunteer-run branches, 121 charity shops and approximately 10,200 volunteers and staff located throughout the UK.

How many stores does Cats Protection have? ›

About Cats Protection

We help an average of 166,000 cats and kittens every year thanks in no small part to our network of over 210 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres.

How does Cats Protection make money? ›

We do not receive any government funding, so our work helping thousands of cats each year depends solely on donations, which is why fundraising is so important to the charity.

Videos

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2. Dermot O’Leary in conversation with Cats Protection
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3. Getting your first cat | Cats Protection
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4. Introduction: working for Cats Protection – Careers with cats, episode one
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5. Funny Cats Protecting Babies Compilation (2017)
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6. Book a free Cats Protection school talk
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