Whether you’re bringing home a brand new kitten or you’ve had a feline family member for a while kids can play an important role in caring for your crew’s cat. Not only does this help take some to-dos off your plate, but it gives little ones a chance to learn responsibility and get in some great bonding time with their beloved pet. Cats are generally independent and low-maintenance, but they still require lots of love and care. Here are five ways children can help with cat tasks:
Once you have a feeding schedule that works for your cat, kids can help scoop out the appropriate amount of dry food for the day. If your cat eats canned food, a grownup may have to assist with opening the can, depending on your child’s age. Kids can also be in charge of doling out treats for good behavior, keeping an eye on the water bowl and refilling it with fresh, clean water as needed.
Cats enjoy keeping themselves clean and don’t require baths often. (They sure make a pet owner’s job easier!). Enlist your children to help brush their kitties regularly to keep their coats clean, reduce shedding and avoid hairballs. Find a brush that works gently and is easy for little hands to hold.
Litter Box Duties
Older children can help keep the litter box clean and tell you when the cat litter is low. Elementary school-aged children are more likely to be able to use the litter box scoop to remove daily droppings, carefully dispose of them in a nearby garbage can and wash their hands well afterward. Your cat will appreciate having a tidy place to “take care of business.”
Cats make great friends and love to be mentally stimulated. Your child can spend endless time with your pet, teaching him new tricks, playing to stoke his curiosity and simply cuddling. Pro tip: the forts your kids make out of pillows and blankets are just as exciting for cats. They can also use their arts and crafts supplies to make DIY cat toys or cat trees out of cardboard. Toys that include bells, balls, fur, feathers, treats and catnip are always a fan-favorite among the feline set. And be sure to include your kitty in birthday festivities—they love turning crinkly wrapping paper into toys. Cats also make great pretend play partners (we’ve heard of many furry princesses, superheroes and dragons!).
Cats benefit big time from physical activity. Playing is a purr-fect way to keep your cat active. Kids can try using a wand with toys attached that they can catch, similar to snagging their “prey.” Many people use laser pointers to get their kitty some physical activity, just make sure they don’t get frustrated by not being able to grab something real. Pulling a string across the floor like a snake always gets a kitty moving. (To avoid choking hazards, never leave string out once you’re done playing.)