Cats are not only popular pets in the world, but they’re also great companions to children. It’s no surprise that cat ownership is on the rise.
However, it’s possible that your child may never get around to owning a cat because the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against letting children under 12 years old care for cats or other small animals.
But this doesn’t stop many children from wanting their own pet and potentially experiencing animal abuse. Is it necessary to keep children away from raising cats?
Is it necessary to keep children away from raising cats?
The fact of the matter is that it is not necessary to keep children away from raising cats and other small animals, even if the American Association of Pediatrics recommends against it.
The AAP states that the psychological distress associated with animal abuse is much greater than that of human abuse, so kids should not be exposed to violence and other potentially traumatizing experiences.
It also takes a lot of effort and time to raise a cat, so it’s not worth the stress. It’s also important to keep in mind that most cat owners don’t want their cats raising other cats.
Cats need plenty of exercise and attention, and there’s nothing wrong with providing it to them. Many cat owners will hire a full-time sitter when they’re gone for the weekend or when they go on vacation.
How many children are exposed to animal abuse?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one in four children is exposed to abuse at some point in their lives.
Although this number may be higher than estimated, it’s still concerning. Because of this, the AAP has urged parents to take the following precautions to protect their children:
Do not give children small animals, such as cats, hamsters, or guinea pigs, until they are older than 6.
Make sure that all children in your household are properly supervised when handling small animals. Ask your children’s pediatrician or any local child protective services whether a young child can handle or care for a pet.
Limit the age at which children can be responsible for pet care to a minimum of 12 years old.
What are the causes of animal abuse?
As well as being popular pets, cats are also a favorite companion to many children. Kids develop an intimate relationship with their pets and they love spending time with them.
But this closeness to their pets can turn into aggression in some children, which may cause them to physically harm their animals.
Some children don’t know their animals are capable of hurting and they haven’t had the right training.
The development of violent behavior in children is often misunderstood as “passive-aggressive” or just “tantrums” and can actually be a symptom of some serious mental illness. A classic example is Explosive Child Syndrome.
It occurs when a child adopts an aggressive posture towards adults and animals but is unable to express the same aggressive tendencies towards their peers.
What does the AAP advise when it comes to having a cat in your home?
The AAP warns against letting children under 12 years old have a cat or other small animal because cats are extremely high-maintenance, according to the AAP’s website.
Cats need to be fed, walked, groomed, bathed, and washed, as well as have their fur brushed and their nails clipped regularly.
However, it’s true that many children like cats and they do not need to be taught how to care for a cat.
Children are likely to misbehave and injure the animal if left to their own devices. It is best to teach children how to care for a cat when they’re young, to prevent this problem from occurring. A good option for children is to have the cat spayed or neutered.
Cat Abuse But what about children who abuse cats?
We know that owning a cat isn’t for everyone. That being said, if you enjoy the company of animals and believe that they make a good companion, there are always options for you to get one.
Remember that it’s also possible to own a cat without the associated challenges.
It’s imperative that you do your homework on the pet that’s right for your household, whether it be a kitten, a senior, or a cat in between.
1. National Association of City Animal Control Officers. Pets in the City: Pet Adoption Trends in New York City, 2006-2009. New York, NY: June 2009. 2. National Consumer Affairs Center. 2015. Report on Pet Rescues, Acquisitions, and Sales. Washington DC: NCAAP. Dr.