Is your cat a kid magnet? Does she like children? Is she curious when little ones visit? Or does she hide under the bed or under the covers when she hears the pitter patter of little feet?
When Lily was a kitten she loved children. We entertained a grandchild once a week for a couple of years and Lily grew up with her. Lily loved Wednesdays. She wanted to be involved with everything the child did—building block castles, playing under a makeshift tent, coloring, creating with crafts, eating lunch—it didn’t matter. Lily was a part of whatever the child was doing.
She loved children so much as a kitten that when she’d hear the neighborhood kids playing next door, she’d jump up on my desk and sit and watch them for hours. The neighborhood children actually joined us and the grandchild in celebrating Lily’s first birthday.
As Lily got older, however, and had more experiences with children, she became a bit more cautious around them. Most of the time kids move too fast and make too much noise to suit a cat. While the cat may prefer to watch the children at a distance—either from under a piece of furniture or from a high spot that’s out of reach—the children want to touch and examine and hug the cat tightly. So when a child first meets a cat, there should be constant supervision and instruction. Not only is the cat at risk of being hurt by a well-meaning, but rambunctious child, there’s always the chance the cat will use her claws to defend her life and space. While a warning pop or poke by a cat can be a good thing—a nice little scare tactic and teaching opportunity—a cat’s claws can do serious damage to a child’s eye or face. So in some instances, it’s best to allow the cat to hide out away from visiting children at least until the child can take instruction and gain an understanding of cats and how to behave around them.
There’s nothing more charming than a child with his or her beloved cat. Sometimes this relationship comes about quite naturally, but generally it takes time and patience. And it depends on the energy level and demeanor of both the kid and the cat.