Second Chance: Kittens & Kids

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View our shelter pets and services online:


Kitten season has arrived here at Second Chance. Yay for kids who love kittens! And yay for me because Second Chance has reduced their kitten adoption fees as there are so many of us here!

While we wait to be adopted we are receiving lots of kid visits. Kids love kittens, but sometimes they love us too much. So I wrote some guidelines to help you teach your child that kittens are not toys, but fragile creatures who can become injured by a curious, well-meaning child wanting to hug tiny bodies and tug cute tails and ears.

First off, please don’t leave us unsupervised (in your home or at a shelter) with small children. That can end badly for both cat and child. We tend to squirm and wiggle when being held and then fall from a child’s arms. It is best to have your child sit down whenever he or she wants to hold one of us. Some cats, when held too firmly, will scratch or bite to be released and children should be taught to let go.

It is good to teach children to allow kittens (and cats) to approach them on our own terms and to pet lightly. Sometimes when we are chased or hugged too tightly we feel threatened and react defensively (which means claws and teeth). My favorite petting mantra is “gently, gently.”

It is also wise to teach children that cats respond to quick, jerking hands and body movements as an invitation to play (also done with teeth and claws) thus, use of a toy, string, or other non-body part when playing is advisable. Grabbing a toy from the clutches of a cat or kitten can also be an “owie” experience.

If you do adopt a kitten (did I mention I am looking for a home?) we need to learn guidelines for appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

For example, some kittens may decide to use your child’s leg as it would a tree and climb it. This action typically results in a howl from the owner of the leg/tree and I assume it is not comfortable. Thus, kittens particularly need to be discouraged from rough play and encouraged in appropriate play, recognizing that punishing a kitten physically will likely serve to exacerbate the problem and is just not nice.

A final tip, for all pet owners: call Second Chance if any behavioral concerns arise with your pets. They offer free advice on behavioral issues that will allow you to address concerns proactively before the situation evolves into an animal surrender issue. Often times when pets are surrendered to Second Chance it is the result of an ill-prepared pet parent, so my staff offers as much support as you will need to keep your pets with your family for life.

My name is Maestro. Not because I am bossy, but because I will pull and twang the strings of your heart, bring a smile to your face, and lift your spirit. I am a kitten through and through – cuddly, playful, loving, fun, energetic, and the sweetest kitten breathe around. Come meet me today!

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