Usually cats and children get along well. Yet, sometimes a child does not understand that he or she tortures a cat when dragging it all over the place, dressing it in doll clothes, playing with it too long or too rudely. Parents must explain to the child that a cat is not a toy but a finely feeling living creature that should be treated with respect.
To make Very often a child, even a very small one, quickly learns to understand a cat and tries to adjust to it. "I sit down on the floor so that the cat could come and show affection to me", - says a little boy. At his six years of age he understood that he should not chase his cat to catch it. He adds proudly: "I know how to take a cat without hurting it". Not all the children understand how to treat a cat. One girl was very surprised when she saw a cat running away from children chasing it. Very often one can hear: "What an angry cat!" when it takes a defensive position in front of children who attacked it.
At the same time everything is very simple: cats can't stand children who yell and chase them. They are afraid of noise and quick movements. It is fine when a child and a cat love and understand each other. A child learns to demonstrate delicacy, patience, attention and respect to a living creature. If a cat has slightly scratched him or her, parents should explain that he or she should learn how far he or she can get in playing with a cat or teasing it. One boy said: "I love cats because they have claws and they can defend". At his five he not only didn't cry because of scratches but was proud of such cat's nature.
Colette Juvenelle, a daughter of a well-known writer Colette remembered in one of her interviews her mother's vivid reaction when at the age of four she bathed a kitten in ice-cold water: "My God, why you gave me such a stupid child? How could you do it, silly girl? The animal may die!"
Doctor Fransoise Dolto, a children's psychoanalyst, believes that if a cat has scratched a child parents should interfere and explain that this is a useful experience, a price one should pay for interacting with an animal. In fact, many cats anyway demonstrate striking patience when playing with a familiar child. Professor Conrad Lorenz, author of many popular books about animal behavior, tells that his daughter Dagmar when she was a year and a half had the best friend - a striped domestic cat almost the same size as the girl. He tolerated a lot: for example, allowed the child to carry him all over the house which every time ended up bad because his gorgeous tail dragged on the floor and got dirty. Sooner of later Dagmar got somewhere rather high and fell from there with all her weight on the cat. To the latter's honor, he had never bit or scratched her. To revenge, the cat demanded that Dagmar play with him "hunting buffalo". Spectators watched this scene holding their breath: the cat laid an ambush, suddenly jumped on Dagmar, held her with all his four paws and sank his teeth into whatever was near. Of course, it was just a play. These were the rules of the game.
One can get a lot from a cat by playing provided you are attentive and will be able to stop right in time. When our friends' cat Sirius wanted to play he found his eight-year-old master, bit his leg, and when he got tired he moved his tail and hid under the furniture or in his basket. In this case you should not insist on continuing to play. To make the child understand that he does not feel like playing any more Sirius bit the boy's hand slightly, without anger. This was a dialog of a child and a cat.
There is a lot of such stories. As a rule, it is a cat who decides to stop playing. A child understands his friend and takes into consideration the warnings: growling, slight biting, moving a tail, slight strokes with paws. A cat rarely scratches a child whom it loves, with whom it lives in the same home and plays. On the contrary, a newcomer cat at home or a neighbor's cat may scratch because it is afraid. This is a defensive reflex.
What is a cat for a child? It is a friend, very often a playing companion, object and source of tender caress provided that the child's and cat's wishes coincide. And this always happens if they know each other. A child likes to stroke this living coat, softer and warmer than a teddy-bear's, and to receive in response equally tender caress, touch of a cold nose and happy purring.
Living side by side with a cat a child gets used to certain responsibilities: to prepare food, to change a pad, to comb a cat when it moults. And the most important, a child will learn that to keep a friend's attachment and trust one should take a lot of precautions and watch one's friend attentively: not to disturb during meals or sleep, let the cat live its own life outside the house if it wants to get out to the garden or yard, not to force to sit on one's lap and not to put on a cat doll's clothes. Some psychologists even state that friendship of a little child with a cat will later help him to better understand his wife.
No coercion can be tolerated towards a cat. May be this is the reason why cats get along very well with calm, sensitive and artistic people...
A cat at home is a joy to a child. Supervised by clever parents, a child will learn to treat it delicately, to defend it as a weaker creature.