Cats and children
For many parents, the idea of kids and cats together is absolutely natural. For others, though, it’s a scary thought that may result in the family cat getting a one-way ticket to being rehomed.
Don’t get rid of the cat
Many expectant parents panic about litter trays and toxoplasmosis. If you’re pregnant and have to clean the litter tray, practise good hygiene and common sense.
Wear disposable gloves and wash your hands. The risk of toxoplasmosis is actually greater with improper handling of raw meat, or using the same cutting board for vegetables/fruit that you use for meat. Speak with your vet for more information.
Prepare in advance
Use your “think like a cat” perspective; major changes are confusing. Prepare your cat by starting the nursery early and gradually. Get him comfortable with baby equipment being around, long before the newborn arrives.
The mother-to-be can start wearing baby powder and lotion to help the cat become familiar with the scent. If you have friends with babies, do some training sessions where a friend visits with her baby.
The ability to escape and have access to kid-free zones will be crucial when the baby becomes mobile. Your cat needs to be able to climb up to an elevated area that is out of reach of baby’s fingers. If your cat can watch a household activity without being the centre of it, he’ll feel much less stress.
Babies and young children should be supervised when in contact with cats. A cat may naturally find the cot a cosy place to nap, so make sure the nursery door remains closed. Even the most-tolerant animal may react defensively if he feels under attack, or experiences sudden, unexpected pain from having a tail yanked, or fistful of hair grabbed.
It’s easy to forget that kitty didn’t get flea protection and is now covered in fleas, or he didn’t get his nails trimmed. Write notes on the calendar to remind yourself. Animals in pain are more likely to react defensively when touched.
Maintain a routine
Cats don’t like change, so, to avoid adding extra stress, this isn’t the time for your cat to become an afterthought. Introduce puzzle-feeders as a way to incorporate extra playtime when you’re busy. The cat is an important member of your family, and he deserves to continue to receive the care and attention he’s used to.
Teach children how to pet and interact
A toddler needs to pet with an open hand. Take the time to teach children how animals should be handled, and how to read body language, so they know when a cat is giving distance-increasing signals and should be left alone.
It’s important to teach compassion and how animals have feelings, and experience pain, fear, confusion and, of course, love. Dressing the cat up in doll clothes and stuffing him into a pushchair may make for a funny picture, but it can be very stressful and frightening for the cat, and can lead to aggression.
Let your children see how much you love and care for your pets, and you’ll be paving the way for them to do the same.
Items in good condition can be dropped into the shop on San Blas in Golf del Sur (behind Hiperdino). It is open seven days a week, 10-6pm, Saturdays 10-4pm.
If you don’t have transport, or have large, bulky items such as furniture and household effects to donate, please ring Mark on 636590557, and he will arrange collection from you.
Short URL: http://www.canarianweekly.com/?p=34921