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Kids and Kitties

July 15, 2020

Has your little one been asking for a pet? Cats are extremely charming, and they certainly can melt our hearts. It’s not hard to see why kids sometimes have such a hard time resisting Fluffy’s charms! If you’re considering adopting a cat for your family, a shelter pet can be a great choice. Check out our article on Adopting a Shelter Pet for more information on the process and benefits of adopting. Read on as a local Roanoke, VA vet offers some helpful tips on helping kids and cats get along.

Ground Rules

Set a few basic guidelines for your little ones about interacting with Fluffy. First and foremost, they should never force attention on a cat. That’s how people get scratched! It’s also important that they don’t offer her anything without asking. Little kids won’t necessarily know what is and isn’t safe for pets to eat or play with. It’s also important for them to be very gentle with their feline buddies. You don’t want your children learning the hard way that Fluffy hates having her tail pulled! This is especially important with kittens, as they are so small and fragile. If your cat is exhibiting aggressive or anxious behavior around children, consider seeking Behavioral Counseling to help address the issue.


We all know that cats make great cuddle buddies. Fluffy’s soothing purr is just naturally relaxing, and is something that children can really take comfort from. Everyone needs a hug sometimes, and our feline friends are great at providing them!


There are actually some quite tangible health benefits to hugging cats. Studies have actually shown that kids who grow up with pets often have stronger immune systems and fewer allergies than those who don’t. They also tend to be very caring and sympathetic. The love of a pet can also provide kids with much-needed stability, which is very important in tough times. Plus, pets help kids gain a better understanding of the cycle of life. Last but not least, kitties can keep kids entertained and distracted. Talk about a win/win!

Photo Ops

Do your little ones love their feline pal? Take a few moments to celebrate that friendship. Have them draw a picture of her, or write a little story or poem about her. Or, look up some great DIY projects they can create. You can have them make Fluffy a box castle, or sew her a comfy new bed. Of course, you can also snap some cute photos of your children snuggled up with their furry pal. These may very well become precious keepsakes!

Our Advice on Kids and Kitties in 2024

At what age is it appropriate to introduce a cat to a child, and what factors should parents consider before doing so?

Introducing a cat to a child can be appropriate at any age, provided the child can understand and follow basic guidelines for interacting with the pet, such as gentle handling and respecting the cat’s space. Parents should consider the child’s temperament, ability to follow rules, and the cat’s personality and tolerance for children’s behavior. It’s beneficial to choose a cat known for being calm and patient with children. Supervision during initial interactions is crucial to ensure safety and to help build a positive relationship between the child and the cat.

How can parents effectively teach their children to recognize a cat’s body language and respect their boundaries?

Parents can effectively teach children to recognize a cat’s body language and respect their boundaries by providing clear, simple explanations of common signs. For example, explain that a swishing tail, flattened ears, or hissing indicates that a cat is feeling threatened or annoyed and needs space. Encourage children to observe the cat from a distance to learn its normal behavior and signs of comfort versus stress. Regular, guided interactions can help children learn to approach gently, recognize when to retreat, and understand the importance of allowing the cat to initiate contact.

What are some specific signs that a cat is feeling stressed, anxious, or aggressive around children?

Specific signs that a cat is feeling stressed, anxious, or aggressive around children include hissing, growling, and swatting. Physical indicators include flattened ears, a puffed-up tail, dilated pupils, and a crouched body posture. A cat may also try to hide or escape the area, indicating discomfort. Excessive grooming or avoidance of interaction can also signal stress. Recognizing these signs is crucial for parents to intervene and ensure both the child’s and the cat’s safety, promoting a respectful and understanding relationship between them.

How can parents create a safe and enriching environment for both their children and cats to interact and play together?

Parents can create a safe and enriching environment for children and cats by setting up designated play areas that are comfortable for both, ensuring the space is free of hazards like small, swallowable objects. Introduce toys that both cats and children can enjoy, such as balls or interactive toys, under supervision. Educate children on gentle handling and recognizing the cat’s comfort signals, fostering mutual respect. Regular, supervised interactions can help build trust and understanding, ensuring that children and cats feel secure and engaged during their time together.

How can parents encourage their children to develop empathy and respect for animals through their interactions with the family cat?

Parents can encourage children to develop empathy and respect for animals by teaching them to observe and respond to the family cat’s needs and signals. This involves guiding children on how to gently approach and handle the cat, recognizing signs of comfort or distress, and respecting the cat’s space when needed. Encouraging children to participate in caring for the cat, such as feeding, grooming, and cleaning, can deepen their understanding of responsibility and the animal’s well-being. These activities help children learn compassion and empathy through consistent, respectful interactions.

Please reach out to us, your local Roanoke, VA vet clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We are here to help!

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