Most cats love to play because it mimics some of their natural hunting instincts -- like pouncing and batting -- but their sharp claws and teeth can hurt, causing many parents concern about allowing their frisky feline near their children. There are ways you can make playtime safe and happy for both, but it starts with education.
Before introducing your child to any pet, make sure she understands how to properly handle an animal. Small kids tend to grab at tails and ears, so teach your child to avoid pulling on any cat's extremities. Never encourage a cat to swat at your hands, feet or other parts of your body, and show your child how to aim prey-simulating toys away from herself to avoid getting pounced on.
It's also a good idea to teach your child how to read your cat's body language to know when kitty wants to play and when he's had enough. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recommends at least 10 minutes of playtime twice daily for most cats [source: ASPCA].
To figure out what times of day your kitty is most receptive to play, try switching up the schedule to see if he is more inclined to participate before meals or in the evenings. Once you've determined the best times to interact with your cat, and after your child has demonstrated that she understands the rules, it's playtime! But what are the best games and activities for cats and kids? In this article, we'll explore five safe and fun ways for all of your little ones to play together.