7 reasons why cats are a great first pet for kids
Dr Jo Righetti shares everything you need to know about owning a cat
By Dr Jo Righetti
Veterinarian - Royal Canin / November 03 2020
For every family there comes a time when you may start to think about adding a furry member to the household. Not only are they great for cuddles, but a pet can also teach children responsibility, caretaking and putting their needs first outside of their own.
With over half (53%) of Australian cat owners admitting their cat completes them according to new research by PURINA Fancy Feast®, animal behaviourist, Dr Jo Righetti shares the seven reasons why cats may be the perfect first pet for your kids.
1. Cats help children nurture
Children naturally love to nurture, and cats present a great opportunity to look after a living animal. By nurturing their cat, children can learn about the responsibilities such as caring for another living creature including feeding, grooming and even cleaning up after them!
Even very young children can help care for a cat and there are skills for children of different ages to learn. Teaching them how to feed a cat by simply placing their food bowl down in front of them can show young children the importance of keeping our cats healthy and happy. Older children can learn to brush their cat and teenagers can clean the litter tray.
2. Cats help kids learn respect
Having a cat as a pet helps children learn to respect animals. Respecting animals can help children respect humans too, so it is a win-win!
When we model our behaviour towards an animal, a child learns from this. Demonstrating to children how cats enjoy being stroked around their heads but perhaps not their tails, can help a child learn the correct way to behave around their cat and teach your little ones the value of respecting your pets’ likes and dislikes.
3. Cats may be easier to look after than other pets
Cats may be the easiest pet to take care of. Parents have busy lives and we often worry about having time for additional responsibilities.
Cats can offer a practical pet experience without being too time-consuming or expensive. A cat doesn’t always need attention as they like to be independent, roam and keep themselves entertained.
4. Cats encourage a balance between work and play
Family life can get busy but having a pet can help balance out schoolwork, sport and technology in a child’s life. A cat is a fun reason to turn off the computer or video game and have a play or a cuddle with your feline friend. Most children enjoy playing with their pets, in fact, their own cat is more readily available for fun and games than most friends.
We all love to watch cats. Just look at the number of cat videos on the internet! Cats amuse us no matter our age.
5. Learning the lesson of patience
Cats tend to be quite introverted in nature, getting a cat for your children can provide a learning lesson to them to sit tight and relax until their feline friend is ready to interact and play.
6. Cats are quiet listeners
Cats are generally quiet animals; this can give a sense of calm and serenity. Many cats seek out human company, so school age children can read a story to their cat which may help with their reading ability.1 This quiet activity can help settle children.
7. Cats give unconditional acceptance
In what often feels like an increasingly judgemental world, a pet cat can be a great source of unconditional acceptance for a child. Children perceive their pets as friends and important family members. They talk to their pets, give them commands and confide in them.2
Pet ownership encourages communication skills, so the rest of the family benefit from this special relationship too, as children who have a pet in their home may interact more with other members of the family.3
We think that a cat can make a great first pet for a child and indeed a great pet throughout regardless of your age and stage of life.
Dr Jo Righetti lives with 3 cats and also has 3 grown-up sons. All 3 of them said “Cat’ as their first word! On her 8th birthday, Jo was given the gift of a cat and on each of her son’s 8th birthdays, they each received their own cat. They all still love cats!