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Keep Kittens off the Christmas Gift List

08 December 2014

UK - There are lots of benefits for children growing up with a pet. It helps them to learn compassion and taking care of another being, and they may also find comfort in a pet to confide in.

However, it is important to make sure all the family are involved in the decision to take on the kitten.

Don’t get a pet as a surprise present as the recipient might not know how to look after them and things don’t always work out.

Big responsibility

Parents should also be keen to become a cat owner and consider that they may have to take care of the kitten for their whole lifetime - cats can live for over 20 years so it is a big responsibility that ultimately parents may need to take on themselves.

Children sometimes lose interest in new things after the novelty has worn off but the kitten or cat will still need to be cared for.

Children will also need to give the kitten or cat some space of their own and know when to leave them alone, at mealtimes and when they are sleeping for example.

They should also be taught how to play with their kitten safely - play involving hands instead of toys can become less fun when the kitten has grown into a cat and has sharper teeth and claws!

Teach children safe ways to play with their kitten using toys designed for cats.

More advice on getting on a kitten, safe games to play and pet care is available for free on the Blue Cross website.

Perfect timing?

It is also worth bearing in mind that Christmas may not be the best time to introduce a kitten into a household.

There are lots of hidden dangers for kittens like Christmas trees, decorations and unusual food, or visitors accidently leaving a door open allowing the kitten to escape before it’s ready to go outside.

It can also be a very busy time for young families and what a new kitten really needs most is some time and space to settle into its new home and routine.

On the other hand, if you’re planning a quiet family Christmas with no lively parties and plenty of time at home, it may be just the right time for some families to introduce a new pet into the home.

And of course, Blue Cross would always advocate offering a home to a rescue kitten – the best Christmas present they could have is a new home!

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