I’d like to ask for advice. My husband and I decided to take a kitten about a month old. But we have some doubts about it because our daughter has two and a half. Our fear is that your kitten might transmit some disease to you or that she might inadvertently scratch your kitten’s face and eyes! At the same time we know some couples with small children who, despite some risk, have the joy of a beautiful cat. What do you recommend?
First of all, I think that often more than protecting the child from a pet you have to worry about the opposite: protect the little animal from the intrusiveness and aggressiveness of the child, especially if it is small!
Then, a recommendation: before talking about disease transmission, it should be noted that perhaps an animal in the house is not indicated in case of familiarity due to allergies; in fact, it could facilitate the establishment of an allergy to dog/cat hair or dust mite that feeds on the hair and dandruff of the animals.
As for the possibility of carrying certain diseases, it is worth remembering:
- toxoplasmosis: the infection occurs with the contact with excrements of sick cats, so it is necessary, among other hygiene rules, to clean the litter every day with gloves. This disease usually does not create major problems for the child, but more so for the foetus if the disease is contracted during pregnancy (it is safe if the pregnant woman already has specific antibodies for toxoplasmosis because it means that she is already immunized);
- rabies: it is now almost extinct in Italy and is unlikely in a cat kept at home and in the city. It is transmitted by the bite of infected dogs and cats, but it is also possible to prevent it by vaccinating the animal;
- parasites: to avoid fleas or ticks it is necessary to brush the animal periodically and eventually treat it with pesticides; mycoses: they can be transmitted mainly by the cat and manifest themselves in humans with pink spots on the exposed parts.
Apart from the disease aspect, for a child having an animal in the house can have many positive aspects because it promotes a close relationship with physical contacts (caresses, games) and emotions and is also a way to empower the child, make him feel useful and make him mature. But looking after an animal in the house can also have negative aspects (in addition to allergies and diseases) as it requires a great deal of effort from the whole family to ensure every day and for years, the small animal, optimal living conditions and affective.
In general it is also advisable, if you want a puppy, wait until the child is 3-4 years old, so that he can take care of the animal himself, carrying out some small tasks such as regularly changing the water in the bowl. Remember also that females are generally more affectionate and calmer than males; if you choose a cat the Siamese or Persians are the most fond of cuddling.