Having a small furry friend is one of the great joys of childhood. Connecting with an animal, and developing trust, can give you an immeasurable feeling of friendship. Even when you don’t have words for your emotions, a pet can help you through the sometimes traumatic journey of life. A skinned knee, jilted crushes, changing schools, these are the kinds of moments that are eased by furry paws, soft strokes, and wet noses. But one of the most difficult parts of creating that bond is the initial meeting and subsequent days after getting a pet. There are many things you can do to make these moments a breeze.
It cannot be overstated how important it is to SLOWLY introduce your new pet to children and any other animals. This means different things for different situations:
When introducing a new cat into a house with older cats. It’s important to keep children away for the first day or so to allow the cats already established in the home to adjust to the new smells and sounds of your new cat. Putting a child into the mix at that point could lead to a panicked scratch or bite that makes the whole process even harder. Allow the new cat to reside in a separate space, like a spare bedroom, for at least a day or two.
When your children are meeting any new pet, its important to supervise their interactions at the start. Your child will listen to you when you demonstrate soft pats and gentle touching, and having an adult present will put both parties at ease with calm energy.
Kittens and puppies are similar in the way you introduce them to young people. Adult cats and older dogs have different ways of interaction and require different approaches. Adult cats should never be chased or cornered, whereas some dogs will think it a game. When interacting with adult cats it’s important to have other activities handy to distract a child from the feeling that the cat doesn’t want to play with them. A cat may spend hours under the couch until the time is right, and some dogs will need a walk on a lead, to truly bond with a new family. Treats and toys can go a long way towards having a successful relationship, and it’s important to help children understand that pets can get stressed and will sometimes need time alone.
Listening to an animal‘s needs, is a great way to foster a caring and sensitive personality in a child. This type of animal interaction can be key for emotional development, and help a young person to open up and share how they are feeling, even when it’s hard to put your finger on the problem.