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by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS

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Cats and Children - Supervision is Key! 


Cats that are not introduced to children in early kittenhood may have a difficult time being comfortable around them.
Do not leave the relationship between cats and children to chance! Set ground rules from the start and supervise all interactions.

Why supervise?

Prevent one bad experience resulting in a cat that avoids all children at best, shows aggression at worst.

 

The overall strategy is to supervise the cat as he or she explores the home.  Praise the all behaviors you do want to continue. Interrupt any behavior you do NOT want and redirect to a wanted behavior.

What to do

  • Offer cat a finger to sniff as a proper greeting. Offer a food treat to encourage the cat to approach. Never go to the cat. Ask the cat to come to you. Never force any contact or try to hold a cat against its will.
  • Never grab, squeeze, chase, hit, or in any other way scare or hurt the cat. No rough housing. No lifting the cat by the belly, head, or tail or tail pulling. Instead, sit on the ground and hold the cat in your lap. If you see signs of cat tension, walk away.
  • Do not allow the cat to play bite or scratch you. Instead use cat toys to play interactive games that direct the cat to pouncing on the toy not you.
  • Do not move quickly around the cat.  Sit quietly and watch the cat without moving as the cat eats a tasty meal.
     
Early Feline Socialization - 3 to 8 weeks old [1]
  • Sensitive period for social learning. Social play begins and increases steadily. Learns many social skills.

  • Object play begins and increases. Climbing, and running begin. Capable of complex learning. Scratching and predatory behavior begins.

Early Feline Socialization - 9 to 16 weeks old
  • Social learning continues. Social play peaks. Social conflict over status may emerge.

  • Exploration. Vigorous exploration of the environment and climbing. Loses baby teeth.

[1] American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) Feline Behavior Guidelines 2004

 

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