National Kids and Pets Day Graphic

A family cat can bring endless joy to your household, but it is important to teach children of all ages how to appropriately interact with their furry friend.

With older children, you can have a simple conversation. The younger children may have a harder time grasping how to properly handle and play with your cat. Younger children are more likely to unintentionally play rough and take their frustrations out on pets. If your children are too young to understand spoken instructions on “playing nice” then your best bet is to lead by example.

Important Things to Teach Your Child


Teaching your child to respect all creatures is a gift for both your child and your cat. You know when your cat is scared or overwhelmed and it is important to teach those signs to your child as well. Let your child know when your cat wishes to be left alone, not to touch your cat when sleeping, and to respect the kitty’s feelings.


Model how your child should play with your cat. This will show your child how to “play nice.” Have your child watch you play and speak gently to your cat. Then have them do it as you supervise.


Showing your child how to handle the family cat will keep them both safe. Explain that cats do not feel safe when “big people” suddenly pick them up. If age-appropriate, show them the proper way to pick up and hold your cat with their arm under the cat’s bottom. Explain that this should only be done when you are there to supervise.


Letting your child help care for your cat by giving her/him age-appropriate tasks will allow the two to form a bond. Even a very young child can help with feeding when supervised. Make sure to let your child know what you are doing and why it is important.