Kids and cats... has any combination of words ever conjured a more wholesome image? Having a feline companion can be great for your child; after all, there's a lot of fun to be had with this pair! In this article, we touch on why kitties can be the perfect playmate for your little ones, as well as discuss the numerous games that they can share.
Why Cats are Great for Your Kids
Playing with a cat can help a child learn a lot of important things that will, ultimately, turn him into a fantastic adult. For example, learning to play gently will force a child to consider his kitty's feelings and physical well being; while playing cooperatively with a feline will teach a child both patience and the virtues of sharing.
Finally, cats - and especially the act of playing with aforementioned cats - can help a child develop both mentally and physically. Felines have a surprisingly calming influence on people - both because of that all-important purring mechanism, and because focusing one's attention away from oneself tends to settle the mind. Furthermore, play can encourage creativity – after all, cats get bored so quickly, so your child will have the joy of coming up with new games on a fairly regular basis. As far as physicality goes, playing with a cat ensures that your child will get up and get moving.
Games for Kids and Cats
Kids and cats are really just natural playmates... I mean... think about it... both are stubborn, sassy, and full of crazy, enthusiastic energy at the weirdest times. So how do you channel all that exuberance? Well... you could try out a few of these games and see where that takes you!
Hide-and-seek-style games probably aren't the first thing you think of when you think of cats, but felines are a curious lot, and this type of gambol can be a ton of fun – especially if you throw a persistent child into the mix. So how do you and your little one play hide-and-seek with your beloved kitty? Well, a piece of concealing furniture and a favorite teaser toy is all you need to get this game going. Have your child hide behind said piece of furniture – say, behind the couch – and poke the toy into the air. Once the toy grabs kitty's attention, pull it back down. More than likely, this will stoke your furry friend's curiosity. A round of hide-and-seek can go on for some time; however, don't be surprised if it eventually turns into a game of chase!
If your kiddy is as brainy and creative as your kitty, then he'll love this one; not only will he get to actually play, he'll also get to help build something really neat! Obstacles courses can be set up with just about anything – from boxes to hampers, pillows to couch cushions. Just use your imagination, and encourage your kid to do the same! There are a lot of ways you can get the game started: your child could strategically place cat treats around the course, drag a teaser toy, or simply cheer kitty onto the finish line. In the same vein, you and your child (and probably your nosy little buddy) can build forts, mazes, and puzzles.
If the obstacle course was a big hit, then your kid might like to try his hand at cat training. Although you may think that it's impossible to train a cat, I can assure you that it can absolutely be done. Kids and cats are highly malleable creatures, and will both respond to training – provided, of course, that said training is fun or rewarding. All of that said, this style of “game” will require a bit of help from you.
Sit down with your child and decide what you would like your kitty to learn – it could be “come,” “high-five,” “sit,” or just about anything else. Next, show your child how to gently – but consistently – encourage these behaviors from his feline friend. Show him how to reward positive behavior, and teach him when it's time to take a break. After a while, “high five” will become a game of pat-a-cake, “come” will turn into a game of chase, and “sit” will morph into a lion-taming act. If your child is older – and your cat is fond of the outdoors – you might also help him teach your feline to walk on a leash, which will ultimately lead to all sorts of adventures, or at least be an alternative method to leading kitty through that obstacle course you built!
Let me start this by saying you should never, ever encourage your little ones to chase the kitty around the house. Instead, encourage your kitty to chase the little ones! It's safe to say that both kids and cats love a good run around, so to help both parties get out all of that extra energy, try this game. Set up a clear path in your home – make sure there's nothing to trip on, no slick spots on the floor, etc. – then give your kid a long-stringed teaser toy, and let them have at it. You could also attach a long “tail” to your child's waist – provided, of course, he's on-board – then let the games begin. I realize how crazy that latter suggestion sounds, but hey... if your kid was a cat for Halloween, this could be a good opportunity to upcycle that fluffy kitty tail that's been sitting in the closet!
As we move through the tech age, it should come as no surprise that both kids and cats love gadgets. That said, there is a lot of fun to be had with remote controlled toys. Provided your feline friend isn't shy around foreign objects, there are plenty of games you can play. Of course, you can lead your cat through obstacle courses or mazes with a small RC car, but you can also attach “tails” or mouse toys to spoilers to make for a fantastic, unpredictable chase game. If your child is a little older – and, of course, supervised – you can also get water-safe RC playthings that can be used to play a fishing game in the bathtub or sink.
A Note on Safety
It's important to remember that, although kids and cats make for a great combination, there are some potential problems that you need to be aware of. Most experts – of both kids and pets – suggest that a child should be at least six years old before owning a pet. Now, that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a kitty in your home until that age; however, it's best to keep a close eye on any interaction between the pair. Remember, cats are pointy – and sometimes fragile – and very small children are unfamiliar with boundaries. Even with older children, it is essential to supervise playtime to ensure that everyone plays appropriately.
It's also important to teach both your child and your kitty the essentials of respectful play, as well as the ins-and-outs of each new toy that you introduce into the mix. Finally, if you plan on having your kid build something for playtime, make sure that you use child and pet-appropriate materials.
As you can see, kids and cats can have a ton of fun together. So long as you show both parties how to interact in a safe, respectful manner, there's no reason why the two can't foster a joy-filled bond that will last for many years!
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