Three child behavioural problems have been identified when interacting with pets:
- Unprovoked attention. This might occur when a young child touches, strokes or grabs a pet cat or dog but the animal does not want it.
- The tendency of young children to make a ton of unnecessary and sudden noise by shouting and screaming. Normally cats and dogs dislike it, particularly cats, I would argue.
- The fact that young kids might like to play children’s games with the family pet. This is another version of a pet being forced to interact with a human. Enlightened adults know that cats do not like to be forced to do anything. If they are forced into playing kids’ games they might hit out. This may end badly for child (scratch) and cat (relinquished to shelter, perhaps).
Comment: It is a question of education again. Children should be educated on (a) cat behavior (b) how to relate to a cat and (c) that declawing is completely off-limits. This last point is needed to stop the cycle of declawing cat abuse as parent hands down to child the idea that it is acceptable. It is not.
It is clear that not all cats are miserable living with all children because some cats are very tolerant and some children are very good with their cat(s). It is just that there is a bit of a problem behind closed doors with young children and cat companions.
Studies tell us that ‘cat aggression’ is a major reason for abandoning a cat to a shelter or anywhere else. We don’t know the backstory. What’s the underlying problem? I’d wager that sometimes it is down to young children getting scratched because of their inability to relate to the family cat in an appropriate manner. It is the parents who are ultimately to blame if this happens.
One last point: cats and dogs are good for children. There are many advantages for a child if she is raised around cats and/or dogs. All the more reason for keeping the relationship on the straight and narrow.