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Infants, Toddlers and Kittens
Important Information for Parents

A PET IS NOT A TEMPORARY PLAYMATE FOR CHILDREN,
BUT A LIFELONG FAMILY MEMBER



Getting a pet just to teach a child responsibility is not a good idea. Pet experts recommend that young kittens are not appropriate for children under age five and suggest a child should be at least six years old before having a pet.

Young kittens are not always the best choice for homes with an infant or toddler as young children usually don't have the patience or maturity to handle kittens responsibly.

The best way to teach your children how to be responsible pet caregivers is to be one yourself. This should start before you even get a pet by selecting the right animal for your family at the right time. Please take the time to consider whether a young kitten is the best choice for you and your family.



TIME AND ENERGY
Caring for a kitten is a lot like caring for a baby. They require significantly more time to supervise and care for than an older cat. The first six months are vital to the development of a kitten. Many households are not able to provide what is needed during this time of learning and growing. Kittens that aren’t properly taught and cared for may not grow up to be well-adjusted adults. If you have a young child that already requires a lot of care and time, you should ask yourself if you will have enough time to properly care for a kitten as well.

KITTENS ARE FRAGILE
A kitten in not a toy!! Young kittens are fragile creatures that may be too delicate for an exuberant toddler. Small children are often too rough on kittens because they have not yet learned how to treat creatures smaller than themselves.

A young child may inadvertently cause serious harm to a kitten. A kitten’s tiny body can be easily broken or crushed. A common injury in kittens is broken bones from rough play and death from being squeezed too hard.

There is no way to predict how a kitten will react to a child that wants to constantly pick him up, hug him, pull on his tail, ears, feet, or whiskers. If frightened, held too tightly or forcibly restrained, a kitten may view this as a threatening gesture and react with scratching or biting the child.

It's important to help your child see the world through your pet's eyes. How would you child feel if someone poked at his eyes or pulled his ears. Even the most docile pet has limits, and all animals must be treated with caution and respect. To protect both your child and your pet, it's critical that an adult supervise all pet-child interactions to insure the experience is a positive one -- for both kids and kitten.

ROUGH PLAY
Kittens have extremely sharp teeth and claws. Biting and other rough play is natural play for a kitten. A rambunctious, teething kitten may not be suitable for an infant or toddler. If a child plays too rough with a kitten they could get scratched or bitten. Kittens also tend to climb on small children and accidentally scratch. Punishing your kitten for inappropriate behavior will not help. If he learns that being around children results in “bad things” happening to him, he may become defensive in their presence.

WHAT IS A “GREAT KIDS CAT”?
A cat about one year old with an established personality is the perfect pet for families with young children. A one year old cat is barely out of kittenhood with plenty of spunk and energy. A one year old cat is better able to cope with children and their fast, unexpected movements and loud noises. It will be more patient with young kids, and best of all, knows when to walk away from interactions that are too much for either of them.

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