Now, this may come to a surprise to some, but I truly do feel that a cat is the best first pet for a child. Many parents believe fish or hamsters (and other small rodents) are best because they are contained, but they are harder to care for and often result in early or premature death because pet shops do not properly tell parents how to care for them. This will end up breaking your child’s heart. Sure, they need to learn about death eventually, but learning about this with an animal can harden their little heart! So why do cats make great first pets for children?
Responsibility & Independence
Cats are equal parts care and self-caring. You need to clean up their box, feed them, give them fresh water, and play with them. They are very basic animals with highly intelligent brains. Cats are said to be more intelligent than dogs because they are able to problem solve, make their own choices, and enjoy solitude to think. Your child will learn how to not only care for an animal but respect its space.
A child can easily be in charge of cleaning a litter box. Doing this once a day or every other day is enough. It only takes 2 minutes to scoop out clumps and poop, and a changing takes 10 at most. Aside from that, just feeding and giving clean water. That is it! You don’t have to worry about potty training or cleaning up messes around the house, stinky cages or bug invasions, nope! A total of 10 to 15 minutes of care a day is enough. (This does not include play time!)
A Companion for the Hard Years
Let’s be honest here, being a child growing into a teen is tough. It is harder emotionally these days than it was just 30 years ago. When your child bonds with a cat they will have them for 12 or more years. I always say 6 to 8 is a good age for a kitten and teaching a child how to care for an animal. Your child will have their companion through their teen years and trust me, it makes them a lot easier knowing you have someone to come home to that won’t judge you or ask so many questions.
Considering a Dog?
Many people will say, well dogs are no different! Dogs are more demanding for their time and care. They need to be trained for one. An untrained dog or one who is improperly trained will make the whole family unhappy. Not only that, they have to be let in and out the house, taken for walks, brushed, bathed regularly, socialized… You get the idea. No, I am not saying a puppy is a bad first pet but I do believe a cat is a better choice. Your child will want to want to hang out with friends more and more, will be going out places and to school… You will be the one stuck doing all the work.
The point of me saying all of this is to list the benefits of having a child care for and grow older with a cat. Allowing them to name the cat, having them go to the vet with you, cleaning up their box and feeding them, it is teaching your child lessons for the future with a hands-on approach.