An Unkempt Garden of

kitten adopter information: introducing a kitten to children

Introduce any cat to children gradually, during short periods of time. A small new kitten should be kept in a room away from any child younger than five or six until you are sure the child won't injure the cat, even in anger or excitement.

Frequent handling and gently playing are important, but children must understand that your cat is a sensitive, living creature. Teach the children how to pick him up and hold him. Slip one hand under his chest, holding the front legs gently but firmly with your fingers. At the same time, cup the other hand under your cat's hindquarters.

Children need to learn that necks are fragile, and they should never pick up a cat or kitten by the neck. They also need to know never to pick him up by the scruff of the neck or by his legs. Even though mother cats pick up small baby kittens by the scruff of the neck, it's not a good idea for bigger kittens or cats.

Children must learn not to pull the cat's tail or ears, squeeze or poke him, make loud, threatening noises or go toward him too rapidly.

A good way for both children and adults to play with a cat is to get down on the floor at his level to make him feel more secure. Remind children that even a small child can look like a giant to a cat. And a gentle cat may resort to scratching or biting to protect himself if he's frightened.

Children sometimes kill cats and kittens accidentally by putting them inside air-proof containers, such as drink coolers, large food storage containers, or even jars. Make sure your children understand that both cats and humans need to breathe air, and if they are locked inside a container, even a large container, with no way to get fresh air, they will die. This might also be a good time to explain to children why they should not close themselves inside refrigerators.

Children need to understand that cats and kittens need to get to fresh food and especially water at any time, so they mustn't be locked in a room away from these things. No closed doors should be between the cat and the water or the litter box.

On the other hand, some doors must be kept closed at all times. If the kitten were to get outside, it could be hit by a car and killed, or attacked by a dog or wild animal. It's important to make sure children understand the seriousness of this.

Cars and garden sheds get very hot sometimes, and cats and kittens should never be left inside or they could die.

A kitten or cat is a living, delicate, wonderful creature, and it can be the child's job to be a kitten's friend and protector from all the dangerous things in the world that the child understands better.