November 24, 2021 Cats Pets and Family

How to Raise a Child with a Cat Safely

A toddler pets a cat outside

How to Raise a Child with a Cat Safely

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there are over 58 million pet cats in the United States. Undoubtedly, many of these cats live in households with children, and the benefit of a pet for a child’s development has been well documented. Pets teach children responsibility and kindness. The presence of a cat in the home decreases the risk of allergies in children, and cats can help children with autism improve their social interactions. To help preserve the bond between cat and child, we need to keep your cat healthy and your children safe when the two share a home.

Indoor Cats vs. Outdoor Cats for Children

Outdoor cats come in contact with a host of disease-carrying critters, including external parasites, other cats and wild animals. Keeping your cat indoors protects against infectious diseases that might spread to a child. The Centers for Disease Control provides a list of infectious diseases that a cat can acquire outdoors. The list includes giardia, plague and campylobacter – all examples of preventable feline diseases when your cat is kept indoors.

Feline Preventive Health Care Protects the Cat and the Child

Looking at the American Veterinary Medical Association pet ownership data, we can see cats visit a veterinarian about once a year and dogs twice a year. This statistic suggests cats may be receiving inadequate preventive healthcare. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends a minimum of an annual physical examination for cats. This examination should include testing for internal parasites and prescriptions for prophylactic medications for external parasites. These measures reduce the risk your cat could transmit hookworms or ticks to your child. The Preventive Healthcare Guidelines also recommend all cats be vaccinated against rabies, another disease transmissible to children. A preventive healthcare examination of a cat should also include an assessment of pain. Cats in pain may be more likely to bite a child unaware of the cat’s physical discomfort.

Supervise Your Child’s Interactions with Cats

The topic of cat bites and children brings up another important issue for cats and children sharing a home. Children should always be supervised when interacting with a cat. Supervised interactions allow the parent to teach their child safe behaviors with cats, minimizing the risk of bite and scratch injuries. Although there are fewer cat bites than dog bites in the United States on an annual basis, cat bites are more likely to become infected. Animal bites of any kind can have a negative psychological impact on a child, so prevention is vital.

All pets, cats included, should be a positive experience for the whole family. Preventive healthcare, keeping your cat indoors and supervising your child’s interactions will all contribute to promoting and preserving the human-feline bond.

Tags: cat bites, cats, cats and children, children, feline preventive health, feline wellness exam, indoor cat, indoor cat vs outdoor cat,

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