National Kids and Pets Day is an annual event that started in 2005. It was set up by mother and pet lover Colleen Paige to highlight the positive impact pets can have on a child's life. There are lots of great reasons for a child to have a pet companion – the biggest reason being that a child who is shown how to be compassionate towards pets is very likely to carry that compassion on into adulthood, in both their behaviour towards animals as well as people. To find out more, visit the National Kids and Pets Day website. We sat down with our friend Phil who has recently welcomed 2 new kittens to his family to hear how they are settling in!
Can you tell us a little bit about your pets and your kids?
We have two wonderful children, Amelia who is 12 and Charlie who is 6. We also have two 10 week old kittens called Wilma and Penelope and a 6 year old cat called Poppy. Poppy is a beautiful long haired cat, she is very friendly and soft and is a big fan of cuddles. Our kittens, Wilma and Penelope are full of life and are very playful and energetic, they are extremely confident and love to run around the house causing mayhem. They are also extremely affectionate and once tired, will curl up on your knee and sleep for hours. Wilma is mostly white with ginger and black markings and Penelope is black with ginger flecks and one adorable ginger ear, she also has extraordinarily long whiskers.
Phil's older cat, Poppy
How old were your children when you got your pet?
When we got Poppy, Amelia was 6 years old and Charlie was 7 months old, we got her for Amelia as she adores cats. We have had the kittens for 3 weeks now and our children are 12 and 6 years old.
Did you have any concerns about having children and pets?
None at all, we grew up with lots of pets, especially cats and we know the joy and comfort that they can bring to children.
What's your kids favourite thing about having pets?
Charlie loves to play with all three cats and their toys, you often hear his joyful giggles when they are bouncing around and catching toy mice or playing hide and seek in their tunnel. He really enjoys their company and how affectionate they are. Amelia adores the cats and treats them like babies, which they happily allow her to do, she will carry them around or let them sleep in her arms.
Charlie and Penelope
What was the most unexpected thing that has come about from having pets and kids?
We got the kittens for the children to lift their spirits after a tough year, we didn’t realise, however, how much joy they would give us all, they have brought a very happy and playful energy into the home.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Our biggest challenge since getting the kittens is trying to get Poppy to accept the new editions to our family, at the moment she isn’t overly keen on them and although she is being tolerant, she hasn’t been very welcoming. This, however, has not deterred them wanting to try and get to know her. We have noticed that Wilma seems very interested in her new big sister and often follows her (from a distance) and copies things that she does.
Phil's kitten, Wilma
What do you find most rewarding about having pets and children together?
What we find most rewarding is the friendship the children have developed with the pets, during the last year both children have been unable to attend school due to the pandemic and family health issues, this has been tough for the children and they have both experienced times of sadness and loneliness due to being away from other children their own age. The cats, originally Poppy and now the kittens too, have provided comfort and companionship for our children. The children have also learnt skills from having pets, such as patience, love and responsibility.
Do you have any advice for families with children wanting to get a pet?
I think that pets can be a wonderful addition to any family, however, it is vital that you are prepared as it really is like bringing another child into the home. Do research and ensure that you choose a pet that fits into your lifestyle, as they are a big responsibility and will depend on you for many years to come. Also ensure that you include the children in all aspects of getting a pet, from the choosing to the caring responsibilities. It will not only teach children important skills, but will help them to bond and build a positive and loving relationship with your pet.
A huge thank you to Phil for taking the time to chat with us today! If you are thinking of adopting a pet and need further advice, we recommend talking to your local animal shelter.