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We recently decided it was time to expand the family and get a cat. The kids had been lobbying for a pet for quite some time, so a few weeks ago we drove out to the SPCA to adopt a kitten or cat.

Within about 3 seconds of arriving I realised there was no way we were leaving without a pet, so we had to choose one from the animals available on that day. That is quite a lot of pressure to make the right choice based on looking through a window, and in the back of my mind I kept doing the mental calculations of how many years he or she would be with us.

“This cat will still be living with us when you are 20” I tell the Ms 6s. “Yay, 20! That’s when we get iPods!” exclaims one. That sounded like a deal if ever I heard one – and voila! – we chose a kitten, just like that.

Here are my 5 top tips if you are considering adopting a family cat when you have small children.

  1. Pick the cat that purrs the most, not the cutest looking one. It will love you long time. Make sure the kids spend some time with it before you adopt – at the SPCA they have a familiarisation room for ‘meet & greets’. If the cat seems scared or a bit scatty then it might not be the one for your family.
  2. Adopt a cat just before term time (for school aged kids). That gives the cat about 6 hours a day down time when it won’t be harassed by the well-meaning little people.
  3. Teach your kids how to carry a cat or they will get scratched to death. This will save you a small fortune on sticking plasters alone.
  4. Cat doors are great and give the cat a bit of independence when they’ve had enough of being smothered. But apparently the ones that work by scanning your cat’s microchip means the microchip needs replacing every year! Avoid these unless you like big vet bills.
  5. Don’t let the cat sleep with your kids otherwise you will have very grumpy and tired children. 

It has been lovely having a pet back in the house and the kids are still enthralled by her. Our 12 week old kitten came microchipped, desexed, vaccinated, wormed, flea-less and toilet trained – all for $130. Bargain! She does require a daily swipe animal sunscreen on her nose during summertime, but otherwise she is very low maintenance.

She has settled into our household very well. She purrs as soon as you stroke her, she sits happily on anyone’s lap, doesn’t favour one child over the other, loves being played with and has endless patience for being picked up and cuddled by the kids.

Highly recommended.