Posted by: secondchancehumanesociety | October 7, 2008

Kids & Kittens

Oreo - Little Author of the Week

Oreo - Little Author of the Week

Dear Pet Column,

I have three children between the ages of 2 and 7.  They saw a cute kitten on the television last week and have been bugging me to get them a kitten ever since.  We have never had a pet and I feel it would be a good experience for them.  Kittens seem like they are pretty easy to care for but my husband thinks we should get an adult cat – what is your advice?

Sincerely,-Kitty for the Kids?

As the most recent kittens up for adoption here at the Second Chance Shelter, we would like to offer you purrs for recognizing the importance of allowing your children to grow up with pets in the home.  Pets within families enhance the self-esteem of children as well as teach them important character traits such as responsibility and empathy. 

Kittens, like children, do require more time, supervision, and patience than adult cats – so this should be considered by parents with busy schedules.  There are also safety issues to be measured, for both kid & kitty, as young children don’t always understand that kittens are not toys but fragile creatures that can become injured by a curious well-meaning child that wants to hug tiny bodies and tug cute tails and ears. 

Likewise, kittens in their playtime do not understand the damage their teeth and claws can have on small children.  Thus, interactions between kittens and kids need to be closely supervised to minimize the chances of injury to either munchkin. 

It is also important for parents to be willingly prepared to be the kitten/cat’s primary caretaker as it is unrealistic to expect a child, regardless of age, to have the principal responsibility of caring for a pet.  We need the basics: food, water, shelter, litterbox maintenance, etc., and we also need to be provided with consistent human interaction, affection, and exercise.

We also need to be taught the rules of the house and proper behavior – which is too big of a task for a child.  Teenagers may be capable of this but are often not willing to spend the amount of time required on a regular or long-term basis.

My final point of consideration is that young kittens, as well as adult cats, require an adjustment period to feel comfortable around the foreign actions and sounds of children.  It can be overwhelming at first, even without children in the home, and kittens (and cats) should always be introduced to the family slowly. 

Give us time and space to adjust – be patient with us – transitioning into a new home is a huge ordeal for any new pet, and as wonderful as it is to leave the shelter and “come home” it still generates stress.  Being fully realistic about this can often represent the difference between a successful adoption and a failed one (where pets are returned to the shelter).

My name is Oreo and my siblings, Snickers, Reeces, KitKat, and Dove are ready to meet you and your children.  And, as much as we would love to come home with you – please do consider some of the adult cats here at the shelter as well.  They have been waiting their turn for some time and typically are much less maintenance than high energy and curious kitties like us.  But most importantly, I urge you to make a decision that works for the entire family. 

Purrs, Oreo.

Call the Second Chance Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet or learn about SCHS Spay/Neuter Vouchers, Volunteer & Foster Care and other Programs.  Visit www.secondchancehumanesociety.org to see our adoptable pets.  Responses to Pet Columns can be sent to Kelly@secondchancehumanesociety.org.

 

 

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