I want to start out this post by saying it is from a completely unbiased viewpoint. That I am in no way trying to promote the love of cats over dogs. I do not love cats more than dogs…I do not secretly watch cat videos in my spare time, and I have no sentimental feelings towards cats.
Ok….well…maybe I love cats. So I guess it is only fair to say I have heard of similar results with dogs, but since we have cats, that is what I am focusing on in this post. Dogs are cool too though…
Bedtime has often been a struggle for my kids. Staying calm has been a struggle. Having positive social interactions can also sometimes be a struggle. Due to the above mentioned reasons, we started to discuss getting a cat. I had heard positive stories about people getting animals to help children with special needs, but didn’t know if it would actually help.
DOWNLOAD OUR FREE GUIDE!
Discover our 20 Must Read Books on Adoption and Foster Care to help assist you on your journey!
I have 8 kids. So adding an animal is a big deal. We once attempted a fish when my oldest was about 4 years old. I had half the kids back then. I secretly gave it away to the neighbors. So we all know how that went. Recently my son, who is now 12, found out, and was not impressed. We had 4 kids in diapers up until 2 weeks ago (praise the Lord we finally succeeded at potty training one after 1 year), so adding more poop to the equation just didn’t seem like a smart idea. Not being able to leave the house for vacations due to a dog, also didn’t seem like a good idea. So when we finally decided it was worth getting a pet to help our kids, we opted for a cat.
I grew up with both. We had weiner dogs and cats. I had a siamese kitty who acted like a dog, followed me around, played fetch, and slept under the covers. The weiner dogs were adorable too. But from experience, I knew cats actually required very little. They needed to be fed, yes, and a litter box kept clean, but that is it. They didn’t need walks. They could watch themselves during the day. I didn’t have to pick up poop during walks. It seemed like a reasonable option.
So after trying to convince my husband for a good 2 years (he grew up with no pets), he eventually caved. I bombarded him with kitten photos and they surprisingly worked (he would like it to be publicly known that it was his idea for this post haha…I guess he came around). The one that sealed the deal was this adorable siamese kitty:
He finally agreed and I purchased the very kitty from the photo. The man selling her lived about 4 hours away but agreed to meet me half way. I dropped the kids off at school, grabbed my younger sister for help, and we headed on our way. We surprised the kids at pick up and everyone was overjoyed!
My children could not be gentle with toys, furniture, dishes, vehicles…you name it. But somehow, they managed to be SO gentle with our new baby kitten, whom we named Cocoa.
I would like to mention that Cocoa’s birthday is 4 days apart from my 1 year old born the same year. I won’t mention how difficult it is to remember which birthday is which…
The transition to getting a cat went amazing. Every night one of the kids would get the cat to come snuggle at bedtime. By the time that child fell asleep, the next kid snuck in, grabbed Cocoa, and took her to bed themselves. We had some of the least argumentative bedtimes EVER! The kids also would snuggle Cocoa during the day and could be found for very decent chunks of time sitting calmy and quietly..a rare sighting in our house.
After this experience we had such a positive view of cats with the kids! I realized what a good addition to our family a cat was and what the cat to child ratio was, and we decided to get another kitten. I won’t mention the convincing involved…and Daniel would probably tell you I wanted a cat to love me since Cocoa loved the children more…but those are all lies.
So a year later on mothers day, Cocoa walked into my bedroom with a sign around her neck that read “I’m going to be a mom!” It was very sweet 🙂 I immediately messaged the man who sold us Cocoa, and sure enough he had another little girl available, so instead of becoming a mother, Cocoa got her little baby sister. We named her Nutmeg.
BOOM. Cat success!! Plus, I found a way to include my cats in my blog. I will likely never do this again since I try to avoid looking like a crazy cat lady. But this post did bring me cat joy. On a much sadder note, Nutmeg loves Daniel the most. Not me. The saddest tale of all.
A side note….we found out Nutmeg had a bit more Nut…and a little less Meg. Nutmeg is now a boy.
So, will dogs be a suitable alternative to cats for your children. I suppose. But cats are sure snuggly and cuddly and cute and have been an amazing addition at calming our kids and helping them sleep. I don’t recommend rabbits though, they are rather hoppity and would likely send the calm factor in the opposite direction. Dog and Cat good. Rabbit bad.
Since this post we sadly lost Cocoa to local racoons, but have added two more kitties to the family, Belle and Lyla. Both cats have bee such a wonderful additon and Belle has had amazing calming effects on two of my children. She senses the exact time a child is having a meltdown and plops herself down across their chest, instantly deescalating the situation. She also assists in bedtimes and is a giant fluff ball of love in our family! Lyla is a bit more temperamental but has a special connection to one two of my daughters and is greatly loved.
We also somehow we became a dog family. I don’t know how this happened. A pet adoption day at Petsmart somehow opened my heart to the possibility and next thing you know had two dogs in the family. How dogs have helped with special needs will be another post, but they have been an amazing addition to the family and we plan to train our golden retriever, Max, to be a service dog for one of our children, and our mini dachshund, Peanut, has been the perfect companion to sooth my own heart through all the challenges life has throw at us. So after 15 years of my husband trying to convince me to get a dog, he finally won and we love our big crazy zoo of a house 😛
You can also find out how ADHD medicine became a game changer for us here.
Or you can find out my Top 10 Sensory Toys You Need for ADHD and FASD.
Finally, be sure to find out Why You Should Reward Your Child for Bad Behavior!
How about you? Have you had success with animals for your children?
Stay up to date on future posts!
Subscribe to get our latest content by email.