Perhaps you want to bring home a cat to your child, but you want to know some of the reasons first. You may also want to know other information about having a cat, such as what age your child should get one. Keeping reading because we will cover this information in depth.
Some of the main benefits behind your child having a cat include:
- Great childhood memories
- Teaches him a love and respect for animals
- The companionship between humans and cats
- Learns responsibility through daily feedings
- Learns more about nature and cats
- Teaches him how to handle and treat animals
While this covers some of the key benefits that your child will enjoy, you should by no means think of this list as extensive. We will cover all the benefits in further detail in this article.
Benefit #1: Great Childhood Memories
As a kid, I experienced wonderful childhood memories of being with my friends and going to hunt down the latest secret kitty stash within the barns (yes, I was a country kid). The mother cats would hide their kittens in the hay tunnels of the barn, and we’d go to find them.
In fact, this story may teach you a little about cats because what I saw in my childhood was that each mother cat would choose specific locations to have kitties at and keep having them there unless they later saw it as unsafe.
One might regularly choose to have kittens at the hay barn in the north. Another cat mother would choose the machine shed on the southern end. You also had another hay barn on the south end that they might also choose.
Having these memories enriched my life as a child and made me feel complete. I wouldn’t give up these memories for anything. If you wanted to get your child a cat, I would recommend a kitten because it is even more fun as a child.
However, any cat is fun as a kid. You shouldn’t get a kitten for children under the age of six because of how they don’t know how to treat a cat. It could lead to the kitten getting hurt.
Choose a cat over two to three years old for a child under six because the cat can escape to a safe zone more easily without scratching or biting the child. You also want to think about how much that cat will tolerate from a small child. Buy a cat that has the right temperament for a young child.
Benefit #2: Teaches Him to Love and Respect Everyone
Having a cat teaches you how to respect and love animals. You learn how to treat them. One study reported how pet owners have more empathy than non-pet owners. They showed lower delinquency as well.
Another study learned how having an animal in a fourth-grade class led to more compassion from the students. In particular, it affects the younger kids more and teaches them how to express empathy for others. This greater development of emotional intelligence (EQ) makes having a cat for a child a good choice.
People with a higher EQ can communicate better, defuse conflicts, empathize, reduce stress and create more fulfilling relationships. All of these things equate to a richer and more fulfilling life. Some people could reasonably argue that EQ matters more to one’s life than regular intelligence.
What is it that makes child pet owners more empathetic? This comes down to its effects on the brain. The act of caring and loving an animal may impact the supramarginal gyrus. This region of the brain sits in the cerebral cortex, and it impacts how we interact with others.
Benefit #3: Companionship
As a kid, playing with a cat and your friends leads to a bonding moment between the cat and the kids. Your child may even make friends from having a cat, or he may bond more with other children from having a cat. I remember bonding with my human friends as much as the cat as a kid.
When your child doesn’t have friends, the cat serves as a furry companion. This keeps him from feeling lonely, and a cat gives him someone to play with.
Warning: Never leave small children under six alone in the company of a cat. Children at this age may not understand how to treat cats, and this can lead to him getting hurt, or it could hurt the cat. Think about how your child behaves to understand how he would behave with the cat.
A new cat can quickly become a devoted friend of your child, and you may see them cause mischief together. The bond that forms together between a child and a cat is like spaghetti and meatballs or pizza and toppings. It just works. I know because I was a kid with a cat. I’m not writing about this blandly, I personally enjoyed these benefits.
Benefit #4: Teaches Responsibility
Along with the fun of playing with a cat, you should let your child learn the responsibilities of a cat. For example, feeding him two times per day. We wouldn’t advise that you let your child clean the litter box, however. Incorrectly handling the litter box can lead to dangerous parasites, such as toxoplasmosis, which has the potential to cause blindness.
We see terrible advice recommending a five or six-year-old child handles kitty litter, and we could not speak louder against this. Do not let your child handle kitty litter or cat poop until he reaches at least nine or 10 years old, but it isn’t even necessary at that age. He must understand the dangers and how to handle it safely. You put your child in danger, otherwise.
The key here is age appropriate duties that aren’t dangerous.
Some of the responsibilities of a cat that he could handle include: feeding, addressing behavior problems (with guidance and supervision) and proper grooming. While cats are a long-term commitment, they don’t require as much responsibility as a dog where you have to let them out of the house five to six times per day.
Benefit #5: Good Wellbeing
One study from Australia found how children from ages of 11 to 15 tended to have better psychological health when they had a cat. The study surveyed 2,200 kids, and researchers learned how those who bonded with a cat earlier in life felt attentive, more energetic and less lonely.
Cats have a funny way of taking you out of a poor mood. Whether it be their eye for troublemaking or their innocent way of doing funny things, cats have a lot to offer a child.
The study also learned how children who had a cat were more likely to feel compassionate toward pets than those who hadn’t, and they had a more favorable attitude toward pets in general.
Benefit #6: Good for Your Child’s Health
We already covered how cats may be good for your child’s mental health, but it could also be beneficial to his physical health as well. In one study with 4,435 13 years olds, researchers learned how people who owned a cat had lower chances that they would die of a heart attack.
This proved true even of children who had only owned cats in the past. People who got a cat even reported in as little as a month how back pain vanished, they didn’t have headaches or colds.
Keep in mind, this evidence isn’t conclusive, and no one can determine the exact reasons for it except how a cat may help you to feel happier and more positive emotions like love and empathy.
|Health Benefits for Children||Yes or No|
|Lower Stroke Risk||Yes|
Benefit #7: Teaches Him How to Treat Animals
Especially when you introduce your child to cats from an early age, he will learn how to treat animals respectfully. Having a cat becomes an education for your child as he also learns about his pet and what to do for bonding and what will get him scratched or bitten. As a side note, never leave a young child alone with a cat.
You can use this as an opportunity to teach your child about animals in general. Especially if he seems to love pets, it could later turn out that you raise a veterinarian.
When your child develops a deep bond with cats at an early age, it sets the stage for a strong, positive relationship with animals for the rest of his life. Not only that, but some studies have found how people who had positive relationships with animals also have more positive relationships with people.
Benefit #8: Cognitive Development
Especially in young children, he will read to his cat, talk to his cat and play with his cat. This low-stress communication lets your child develop essential verbal skills in the youngest of children. The cat becomes the recipient of the child’s babble. He will learn how to praise, reprimand, order and encourage his cat, which will strengthen their bond.
Benefit #9: Reduced Risk of Allergies
Believe it or not, children exposed to cats as young as one year’s old had a much lower risk of developing all sorts of allergies. Later in life, cats can cause allergies, but at an earlier age, they won’t have the same negative impact.
One study learned how two cats or more in a home with babies lowered the risk that the child at age six would develop allergies by as much as 77 percent. Along with it lowering a baby’s risk of developing allergies, it may help to lower the risk of developing asthma. The most quintessential age for exposure is around one year old.
Never leave a cat alone with a baby, however, because while it may seem harmless, this poses a risk to the child. There have been cases where the cat laid on top of the baby to comfort it, but it smothered the baby.
Supervision is always best with cats and young children. That’s the golden rule. They may go together well, but you have to do it in the right way.
Is a cat a good pet for a child? Cats make awesome pets for a child because they don’t require too much care, but they require enough to give your child responsibility. Just make sure to adopt a cat with a calm and gentle temperament.
What are the benefits of having a cat for kids? Some of the benefits of cats for kids include psychological, teaching responsibility, lowering stress and feeling happier. Cats can also be a lot of fun to have because of their curious desire to learn about everything.
Before you get a cat for your child, however, you may want to learn more about the disadvantages. I wrote about that here, and it can help you to decide if getting a cat is right for your family. We don’t necessarily want everyone to have a cat. What we want is responsible pet ownership where the cat is loved and taken care of.
Cats have many benefits for both children and adults, but in some cases, it may not make sense for you. Hopefully, you have seen the benefits and know where it may make sense.