When cats and kids live in the same house, it’s necessary to have some rules, and kids need to be taught what is and is not appropriate behavior around feline friends. Here, we’ve compiled some basic rules that should be enforced between kids and cats and information on how to do so in your home.
Always Supervise Cat-Kid Interactions
When your child is small, all interactions with cats should be supervised. Don’t leave your young child alone with a kitty, and be sure you’re close enough to intervene if your child is being rough or the cat is indicating that she might bite or scratch.
If your child (or you) is ever bitten or scratched by a cat, wash the wound out with soap and warm water and then visit the doctor immediately. Don’t wait. Cat bites and scratches are notorious for becoming infected, and they can be quite serious. Infection seeds and spreads quickly and aggressively.
If the Kitty Walks Away, Don’t Chase
Kids should be taught right away that a cat that disengages from a playing or petting session by walking or running away should never be followed, chased, or pestered. A cat that is moving away is indicating politely that she’d like a little space at the moment, and continuing to force engagement could result in her scratching or biting.
Be sure to provide your cat with safe spots that she can go to get away from the child. She will probably appreciate these the most if they are up high, where she can go to watch what the child is doing but not have a need to engage if she doesn’t wish to. Some ideas are tall cat scratching posts with perches on top or high shelves that have been cleared off (and are bolted to the wall for stability). Cat caves are also great for providing a hiding spot from which a cat can feel unseen herself but still see what’s going on. You should teach your child that interacting with the cat while she is in these spots is not allowed, and give reminders whenever necessary.