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Helping Cats and Toddlers Get Along

October 01, 2019

Do you have both a toddler and a cat? Kids and cats are a super cute combination! Kitties can form strong bonds with children. They also make great cuddle buddies and playmates. However, cats and toddlers don’t always understand each other very well, which can lead to friction. Here, a vet discusses helping cats and toddlers become friends.

Warning Signs

When it comes to kitties and toddlers, one common fear is that Fluffy will scratch or bite. Those little claws and teeth are sharp! However, toddlers can also injure cats. You’ll need to keep both parties safe from each other. We recommend supervising all interactions closely. If your cat shows any warning signs, like flattening her ears, immediately separate them.

Escape Routes

Toddlers often try to chase cats, which doesn’t always go over well with our feline friends. Offer Fluffy a spot to retreat to in every room. Cat trees are great for this! If possible, put one in every room. (Tip: fasten it to the wall, just in case your toddler tries to climb it.) Baby gates will work as well. Your kitty may also appreciate having a spot under a bed or behind a couch, or even a pet tent or tipi. Teach your child that Fluffy should be left alone when she’s in her hiding spot. Think of it as a kitty do-not-disturb signal.

Teaching Empathy

It’s never too early to start teaching children to treat animals gently, and with kindness and compassion. Many youngsters have learned the hard way that kitty tails aren’t toys! Take time to show your toddler how to properly pet cats. Use your hand to gently guide theirs. Talk to your furball softly as you are doing this, and let her sniff your child’s hand. With any luck, your feline pal will show her approval with purrs and cuddles. Don’t force Fluffy to submit, however: if she wants to get away, let her go.

Safety

One thing cats and toddlers have in common is that neither of them really know what is and isn’t safe to eat or play with. Fortunately, petproofing and childproofing are quite similar. Remove or secure potentially dangerous items, such as plastic bags, small or sharp objects, medicines, and toxic plants. Also, don’t let your child give Fluffy treats without supervision.

Please contact us, your vet clinic, anytime. We’re here to help!


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