Learning to Like Cats

Learning to Like Cats

by Michael

Child and Cat Together - photo by irene nobrega

Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Child and Cat Together - photo by irene nobrega

I am reminded today that probably in a significant number of cases in the UK and probably in other countries, learning to like cats begins at a very tender age indeed. And if I am correct this puts an added yet usually hidden responsibility on parents.

Some children in the UK say their first words at aged 3 - this is late. For 34% of girls first words are spoken before 9 months of age (I Can). Boys lag behind (wasn't that always the case!). Einstein didn't talk until he was aged 4 and look how he turned out (maybe he was just good with numbers though and didn't say much).

The first words spoken are probably Dadda and Mama, naturally enough. What interests me is that setting aside parental names the top word is "cat". Yes, cats rule!

Seriously though, this must point to the fact that the presence of a cat in a significant number of households in the UK has an influence during early years. And it could be argued that it is second only to the toddler's mother and father.

That influence can only be felt if the cat is a close presence for the child. So close that there is probably interaction between child and domestic cat.

Where there is interaction of this type by a child that is encountering first experiences daily, there is a good chance that it will go wrong.

What I mean is that the child may inadvertently mishandle the cat. This may provoke a naturally defensive response in the cat and a possible scratch or bite.

No big deal probably, I hear people say. I agree but in some cases the toddler might develop a life long distrust of the domestic cat.

This mistrust may develop further into something more grave and unsettling for the cat - violence towards it due to a fear of it.

A lot of misconceptions about the cat arise from a lack of understanding about the cat underpinned by a fear of the cat or at least an anxiety towards the cat. An anxious approach towards a cat is more likely to elicit the wrong reaction from the cat due to unsure handling.

So, all things being equal a bad start with our cat companions at aged 12 months can have a detrimental effect on the cat. And I for one don't want that.

The answer? Parents need to supervise their children very carefully when their children play with the domestic cat. And parents should be in tune with what is the best way to handle cats.

Cats obviously have an impact (a very good one, usually) on toddlers judging by their early learning of the word, "cat", but the parents have an obligation to ensure that it is always a good one. Learning to like cats depends on concerned and thoughtful parenting. And if a child learns to like cats it bodes well for all animals, which can only be a good thing.

Michael Avatar

From Learning to Like Cats to PoC Forum

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Learning to Like Cats

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Jan 05, 2010 Young people and cats
by: Ruth

Yes you are right Michael ! I think a lot of young people are not educated enough about cats.
I was lucky in that when I was young my late mother taught me all about animals and that just loving them wasn't enough, and in my teens I volunteered for the RSPCA (which was a lot different then to how it is now)and my ex headmistress was the secretary of the local branch,we became good friends,she had 2 beautiful cats and I learned a lot from her too as we didn't have cats at home then,my late dad being a dog person.
We went around schools giving talks on animal welfare and most of the pupils were very interested.I don't know of anything like this happening now, which is very sad !

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

Jan 05, 2010 Hi Ruth
by: Michael

Hi Ruth, I am glad you agree. This could be more important than we think as a lot of young people end up with misconceptions about cats and that can lead to ill treatment at worst or apathy at a time when there is a need for some real effort to reduce the feral cat population and preserve the wild cats.

Jan 05, 2010 Quite right
by: Ruth

Another interesting article Michael and I totally agree. Time after time I've heard a child say 'I don't like cats, they scratch you' and that's because they weren't supervised by their parents, they were too young to know how to treat a pet so they treated it like a toy, grabbing at it. Naturally the cat lashed out,the child threw it down,the cat got the blame and instilled in the child's mind was the fact that cats are bad,they hurt you ! It's another excuse to have a cat declawed in the USA 'I'm not having a cat scratch my kid' No thought to the fact that they are the ones responsible for ensuring the child isn't scratched, by teaching that child how to be gentle with the cat.
I think a love of cats is inherited and if cat loving parents teach their children from the very start that cats are living feeling beings just like us, they grow up very fortunate and pass on that wisdom to their children too.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth

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