Furry friends for life: how cats are good for kids
Getting a cat is undoubtedly a big decision for any family. Parents need to think about who will be responsible for the cat, the expenses involved, not to mention the potential impact on the furniture! But what about your kids?
Many parents worry about things like how a young child will handle a new pet, but what's not so commonly talked about is the influence a cat can have on a child. Cats can teach children not only respect and responsibility towards animals, but also improve kids’ emotional and social skills.
The positives of getting a pet
The positives that come with any pet apply here. Your child may not be able to walk their cat(!) but children can learn about respect for other living things through playing with their furry friend. Having a cat to look after teaches them to be responsible as they grow older; measuring out the Whiskas cat food, joining in with basic grooming and trips to the vet, buying their cat an occasional treat.
As well as these general benefits, cats have been shown to have a specific impact on growing children.
There have been many studies which have found cats to be a great source of comfort and companionship for children. Kids who suffer from mental issues such as depression or anxiety can get a lot out of a relationship with a cat, since cats are non-judgemental and their affection is uncomplicated. Just being able to hold and stroke a cat does therapeutic wonders for children.
The benefits of cats to children with social problems such as autism have also been widely reported. The simple interaction between a cat and child – playing together, caring for the cat, learning acceptable boundaries - can be a great social lesson for kids, and will lead them to develop friendships with other children. Having a pet also invites social interaction amongst family and friends, and shy or withdrawn children may find it easier to spend time with others if there is a pet to focus on and talk about.
Kids and cats make a great team
Even on a basic level, owning a pet cat will spark children's interest for cats as animals. They may wish to read up on their behaviour or search the internet for tips on how to care for them, all promoting an interest in learning for your children. So if you're considering a new addition to the family, remember that getting a cat may end up giving your child a head start in more ways than one.
Image by Steve Garner, used under Creative Comms license