The old myth that cats have nine lives may not be true, but cats are a resilient species. Most housecats live an average of 14 to 20 years, so when you introduce a kitten or a healthy adult feline into your home, your child will most likely have a friend for nearly all of his or her upbringing [source: Church].
This long-term commitment will teach your child valuable lessons about relationships and the reward of being a responsible pet owner: a long life with a loving cat. Your child's conscientious feeding, playing and brushing will help keep the cat in good health, and being present for both routine and illness-related veterinary visits may help kids better understand medical care by letting them experience it as a patient's caregiver.
Children who grow up with a cat will also observe how their actions can impact how others view and treat them -- being consistently quiet and gentle with a cat will most likely lead to winning his trust and affection, whereas making sudden noises or movements may make him skittish and keep him away long after the potential threat is over. Children who grow up with pets are more apt to be empathetic and compassionate toward all living things as adults.