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Is it fair to adopt small kittens for my boys aged 6 and 3.5?

(25 Posts)
ellsybells Fri 15-Feb-13 16:58:22

We've finally decided to get a family cat as I don't think I can wait any longer! I have reserved two 10 weeks old kittens from the local rescue but now I'm having doubts that they will be robust enough to cope with my little boys who are very lively and have never owned a pet before. Does anyone have any advice or experiences to share? Many thanks!

thecatneuterer Fri 15-Feb-13 18:15:11

Unfortunately a lot of kittens are seriously injured by young children. One of the jobs that has most upset me in my time as a volunteer for Celia Hammonds was having to collect a 3 to 4 month old kitten that had had it's neck broken by a young child (as I have no experience whatsoever with children I'm not sure how old the child was, but at a guess I would say about 3 and half or four). I think it would be much, much safer all round to get an adult cat (or a pair). That way not only will they be in much less danger, but their personalities will have come out and you will know if they will be good with children (ie confident and laid back cats).

ellsybells Fri 15-Feb-13 18:25:40

Oh dear that is awful, young kittens are so fragile. I have also seen some older kittens who are nearly six months old which I'm also considering but we haven't been offered any older cats yet (all the ones at our local rescue) are not suitable for young children. I'm not in any hurry so I suppose we could wait until these kittens are older before bringing them home. Thanks for the advice!

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 15-Feb-13 18:47:36

I think with any small animal they shouldn't be left alone with children.

Would it be safe to say that the 6yo is at school and the 3.5 at nursery? That gives the kittens some peaceful time.

Then when they get home you could keep them in a separate room until after tea etc then some quality time learning how handle kittens.

HindsightisaMarvellousThing Fri 15-Feb-13 18:52:47

Having just spent the afternoon watching a 3.5 year old and a 6 year old manhandle and squeeze guinea pigs, I would say that no, kittens and young children are not a good mix. Young children just don't seem to be able to do gentle stroking, and will lash out or drop the animal if it hurts them.

sleepyhead Fri 15-Feb-13 18:53:39

The main thing is that you're in charge of the kittens and take full responsibility for their welfare.

That includes educating the children about their care/safe handling, making sure that the kittens have safe space that the children don't have access to (especially the younger one), recognising that if the children mistreat the kittens then it's your fault and that if the kittens scratch/bite the children then that's your fault/problem too!

No reason that they shouldn't have a great experience growing up with their new pets if you're vigilant.

ellsybells Fri 15-Feb-13 19:05:20

Thanks fluffycloud. They are lovely kittens but I'm trying to be responsible and not just sentimental. We are all going to meet them again on Monday so will see how they get on then (especially my youngest). My older son is more sensible and seems to understand their need for space (I'm thinking of giving the kittens the dining room to themselves once I've cleared it of boxes). And yes they will also have respite during the day when the only person wanting to play will be me grin!

Flojobunny Fri 15-Feb-13 19:11:09

I think they'll be fine so long as you supervise them. Kittens are pretty quick and will soon dart out the way if they don't want to be manhandled, likewise will be their claws out. Personally I'd have gone for an adult cat as they are less likely to claw at the DCs!

GobblersKnob Fri 15-Feb-13 19:14:49

They will need much supervision, but my youngest was handling our rats confidently and carefully from the age of about three.

You need to have a zero tolerence to rough behaviour on their part, in need drumming in that it is totally unacceptable and that they are not toys.

Fuzzymum1 Fri 15-Feb-13 22:45:41

I think kids who have been brought up around animals are usually fine with kittens, but, as a first pet I would go for a slightly older cat or cats. My kids have always had cats in their lives and my 6yo is amazing with our newest kitten as well as the older cats.

BoringSchoolChoiceNickname Fri 15-Feb-13 22:54:52

Celia Hammond (herself) took one look at our boisterous 4 year old DS and refused to let us have kittens - sad, but we saw her point. She gave us two lovely adolescents instead.

StitchAteMySleep Fri 15-Feb-13 22:56:46

We had a kitten from 6 weeks old, dd1 was 2.5 when we got him. She was under strict supervision and learnt how to stroke him properly and not pick him up. She has a naturally quite sensible and caring disposition though. He slept in her bed, thought she was another kitten, a playmate. We had to send him to live at my dad's as his character was not suited to be an indoor cat and he took his frustration and boredom out on dd1 (he was just playing, but their claws are sharp). I think a lot will depend on the nature of your children and how well you supervise and teach them. Have in the back of your mind what you would do in the best interests of the kittens if it wasn't working out.

maxmillie Fri 15-Feb-13 23:02:03

I have 3 boys 8, 5 and 2. We got 2 kittens at 5 weeks old last June so the youngest was only 18months old. They were rescue cats but the person that tool them from cats protection league immediatley gave them to us (for reasons I won't bore you with). I doubt they would have let us adopt them. They are nearly a year now and are, and have been, absoutely fine! I am slightly concerned at the level of concern about children and kittens, and maybe I am a bit naive but it didnt even occur to me that it would be a problem. They are lovely cats with calm, playful and placid personalities and love to be around us and the boys. They have never, ever scratched or bitten any of us, even the two hearb

maxmillie Fri 15-Feb-13 23:03:42

Year old, sorry. He initially was a bit boisterous with them, mainly just shouting at them, in which case they just feted out of the way. We taught him I be gentle with them and not pick them up and they are all fine. No injuries or mishaps on either side.

maxmillie Fri 15-Feb-13 23:05:07

Surprised not concerned! Stupid phone!

Anyway crux of it was we have 3 little boys and 2 little cats and it has been totally fine.

thecatneuterer Sat 16-Feb-13 02:51:54

Maxmillie: the level of concern about children with cats/kittens is because children do unfortunately seriously injure and even kill them. Of course there will be plenty of people who have children and kittens together with no problem, but anyone who spends time in a vet clinic will regularly see injuries caused by children, even resulting in death as I mentioned in my post above. Of course many children and kittens will coexist very happily, but there is no doubt that there is a risk.

WaitingForMe Sat 16-Feb-13 11:19:09

I never even considered my DSSs (then aged 5 and 3) being too young for kittens. DSS2 in particular was very boisterous and was just fine when we adopted two brothers.

We drummed in that they needed to be careful but I can't help but feel even tiny children understand their power and killing a cat reflects a behavioural issue rather than an accident.

maxmillie Sat 16-Feb-13 11:38:50

I agree. We never had any real concerns that they would hurt them as they were aware they were living creatures and you had to be very gentle (like when friends have new babies) - I was only really concerned about accidents like turning round and treading on them when they were tiny and we just made sure they had lots of baskets and boxes to hang out in and the children mostly petted the in there at first when they were little. They very quickly learn to dart out of the way of a football game in the hall etc.

I know accidents happen and very sad to hear of kittens being injured but I think that if you take the responsibility serious and explain to the children it should be fine. All the friends that came round have also been lovely with them.

Possibly it was good that I was a bit naiive as it just never occurred to me that there would be any issues and our cats have just fitted into our home and everyone loves having them around.

I am sure some cats are not so lucky : (

Delayingtactic Sat 16-Feb-13 12:48:17

I think that if you are around and willing to always supervise your children around the cats it shouldn't be a problem. It would really depend on how they behave around it when you take thm to see the cats. How are they around other people's pets?

VeganCow Sat 16-Feb-13 14:31:57

I dont understand this at all.
Young children should not be allowed to manhandle kittens, you are the boss. You would not allow your child to be messing around near a fire, and would I assume, be able to prevent any mishaps there, so why wouldnt you be able to step in and tell them off if they were being too rough with an animal?

My 2 came after I already had cats and dogs, and have NEVER hurt any animal, either by accident or on purpose, because they were taught to respect them!

badtemperedaldbitch Sat 16-Feb-13 14:36:15

Imo it should be fine...but you need to make sure that you say to the boys...that's enough now let the kitten go. Then the cat knows that the fuss won't last for long and is likely to become more tolerant

We took on 2kittens when dd was 3 and going through a serious 'lenny' phase!

aufaniae Sat 16-Feb-13 14:43:11

Purely anecdotal I know, but I grew up with cats (the first one was there before me) and they remained unharmed!

If you supervise the kids with the kittens and teach them how to respect them, I don't see why there should be a problem. The 6yo should be plenty old enough anyway, it's the 3.5yo you'll have to watch of course.

I've taught DS to be gentle with animals from a young age (he's 4 now). I found it helped to give him something positive to do, rather than just telling him what not to do.

With cats it's all about trust. I've taught DS that cats get scared very easily, so if he wants a cat to be his friend, he needs to crouch down, to make himself small, as they think you're bit scary if you're big. Also to stay still and hold your hand out (fist closed, back of hand) and let the cat come and smell you. I've explained that cats really like to smell you, and you need to let them smell you before you can stroke them.

We made it a game, and he understood fine it at 3.5.

The bit above is for adults cats who don't know us (e.g. at friends or in the street), but you get the idea! Show your little one what to do, in a game, and supervise and it'll be just fine I'm sure.

Enjoy your kittens, I'm jealous!

derektheladyhamster Sat 16-Feb-13 14:47:38

My friends daughter dislocated the kittens shoulder by carrying it incorrectly (she was 5)

Lots of supervision will be required for the first month or so.

ellsybells Sat 16-Feb-13 23:22:42

Many thanks for all your responses, we've been doing lots of role play this week and they definitely understand the rules in theory, we'll just have to see how it all works in practice on Monday. They are certainly fascinated by other people's cats and do tend to plague them until cat stalks away (as they do) but they are very good with newborns and babies. I wouldn't leave them alone though, but then I wouldn't with a baby either! I guess I'll be getting up with the kids at 6am and taking kittens to the bathroom with me for quite a while.

MOTU Sun 17-Feb-13 12:16:46

We got 3 tiny kittens when my dd was 18 months. We kept the kitchen gated so they could escape from her if they wanted to. The 4 of them are a tight little pack now, they all think she's one of them! It only took about a week and a half for her to learn what is and isn't acceptable. Go for it and just make sure you're present during socialising time for the first couple of weeks!

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