Adopting a pet can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences in a child's and parent's life. But finding the right cat to fit your home and family can take some time. That's why we're here to give you a few tips on finding the right cat for you and your kids. 

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STEP 1: CHOOSING THE RIGHT CAT
A very sociable cat or a kitten over 4 months of age is a good choice for families. We recommend families with younger kids avoid cats that are fearful or don't like being handled. Always avoid cats with a history of aggression toward people. Basically you want to make sure you choose a cat that can tolerate the activity level of your household. Our staff and volunteers are happy to help guide your choice!

STEP 2: PROPER INTRODUCTIONS
The first few days in a new home at often quite stressful for any cat, and on the other hand, very exciting for a child! Make sure to balance your child's enthusiasm for spending time with the new companion with the cat's need for adjustment and alone time. Provide your cat with a quiet, low traffic room in the home. If your child is under 10, we recommend that it not be the child's room. Allow the cat to acclimate to the new surroundings at their speed.

STEP 3: SAFE SPACES
Whether it is at the top of a cat tree, or over a baby gate, cats need to be able to get away when they want to - it's just how they learn to feel safe in their environment. You can teach your kids to respect these hideouts - a cat should know that she is not going to be dragged out of these special places. If you have toddlers, you may need to make these spaces inaccessible to them; for older children, explain the reasons and make sure they understand to follow these rules. 

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STEP 4: EDUCATE
Teaching kids about cat behavior is very beneficial. Teach them basic cat body language so they know when the cat is happy and when the cat needs a break. Feel free to ask us for where to access educational tools on these subjects. 

STEP 5: MAKE IT FUN!
All children, even the youngest of children, can be involved in cat care; helping with feeding, playing with interactive toys, cleaning the litter box, grooming, etc. These positive interactions will make both your cat and your children feel good, and build a loving relationship. 

STEP 6: KEEP IT SAFE
A cat who is chased or picked up incorrectly when she is trying to get away is likely to scratch, either by accident or in a defensive manner. Teach appropriate handling and keep you cat's nails trimmed!

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STEP 7: DO NOT DISTURB
Teach your kids to respect a cat's boundaries while eating, drinking, or sleeping, and to never bother a cat who is using or about to use the litter box.

STEP 8: BE A ROLE MODEL
Let your children see you handing the cat respectfully. Talk to them about why you are handling the kitty the way you are, and do not roughhouse with the kitty in play.

STEP 9: THE KIDS ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CAT
No matter how old your kids are, remember that you are the adult and are the resposible one - for your kids and your cats! While duties can be assigned to children, such as refilling a water bowl or cleaning the litter box, they should always be monitored by parents. 

STEP 10: SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE, SUPERVISE
The best relationships are made when parents involve themselves in their kids' and cats' interactions. Watch for inappropriate behavior from both feline and human kids, and be aware of how the cat and kid feel about each other. 

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These steps will help you and your family enjoy a positive, loving relationship with your new cat! If you've adopted a Cat Town cat, or hope to in the near future, and have any further questions about cat and child interactions, please feel free to email us at info@cattownoakland.org.

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