With the Christmas holiday right around the corner, you might be in the middle of deciding whether or not a new cat might be a beautiful addition to your family. The Himalayan is one of the most beautiful cats in the world, very similar to the Persian but with a slightly different color scheme. This is something that makes the Himalayan cat very popular, which is why so many people consider this a perfect pet for the whole family. There is no denying the fact that a small, fluffy Himalayan cat under the Christmas tree is going to thrill your kids to oblivion, but you should know that getting a cat is about more than just making the kids happy and adding a furry addition to your family.
Cats are wonderful animals to have. However, they do carry disease and infection and this is something that is particular threatening to children younger than 5 whose immune systems have not fully developed. This is absolutely not to say that your cat will give your children any health issues or diseases, but it is to say that this is a consideration you must make if you plan on bringing a feline friend into the house. A cat can transmit disease and infection, and you need to know what to do to help prevent your children from becoming sick thanks to your cat.
Keep Kids Away from the Cat’s Water
This might be a bit of an issue for you if you were planning on making your smaller children responsible for the water dish and feeding of your cat. However, cats do carry diseases that are not life-threatening to them or to you, but that can make you sick. You might actually think that you just have a cold or flu or stomach virus, but your cat can actually spread infections such as campylobacter infection through his contaminated water dish (or even that glass you thought was safe on the counter). This can cause severe vomiting and illness in people, particularly small children. To help ensure this does not happen, teach your cat to stay off counters and your kids to stay away from the cat’s water dish. And do not leave beverages without lids lying around the house for your kids or cat to get to.
Keep Kids Away from Cat Feces
Okay, so your kids probably don’t want to play in the litter box, and that’s fine! However, you shouldn’t let kids or pregnant women play around litter boxes or clean them out. And you should keep them away from any accidents your cat might have in the house or in the yard. These could transmit several different diseases that could make you or your kids very sick, and there are several risks. Toxocariasis is a series consideration. This is something that cats leave in their feces, and it can even contaminate the ground where your kids play if you are not careful. This is something like a worm that lives inside cats and is passed from feces. If it gets into the ground in your yard and your kids accidently ingest a little of the dirt, this worm could lay eggs inside your child and cause serious health problems. This is a good reason to keep that cat inside and keep your kids from eating dirt. Your mom might say a little dirt never hurt, but she obviously never had intestine-living worms from it.
Make Sure Your Kids are Gentle
It might be funny to some to see their kids manhandling their new Himalayan cat – and it’s not funny at all – but if your kids aren’t careful, even this carefully bred cat will bite. While the Himalayan is a very docile, very gentle cat, it has its limits and it could pass on cat scratch fever if it bites or scratches your child. While this could happen completely accidentally, such as when the cat is leaping off the lap of a child and accidently scratches the child’s leg with his claws, it’s best to ensure your kids are very gentle with your cat so that there is less likelihood your cat will even bother scratching or biting in the first place. Cat scratch fever is very flu-like, and it can cause your kids to become very sick for a long period of time. While it’s something that will go away on its own, it’s difficult to deal with small children who feel this poorly.
Additionally, even if your cat has no disease or infection to spread, he or she could bite you or your child and cause infection simply because of the bite. If the bite is deep enough or not properly cared for, it could become infected on its own, which could have very negative consequences for your child or your family. It’s very important to ensure that your cat does not play rough with your family and vice versa.
Keep Your Cat Indoors
You will greatly reduce the risk that your cat will become infected with something like rabies or even Lyme disease by ensuring that he or she is an inside cat. The Himalayan cat, especially, is one that doesn’t do well outside anyway thanks to its long coat. It does become warmer than other animals and it’s not nearly as active as some other cats. They are much happier indoors, so go ahead and keep him indoors. This reduces the risk of your cat being bitten by something that has rabies and becoming infected and dangerous. It also reduces the risk that your cat will bring home ticks, which can carry Lyme disease – which is terrible for humans. Additionally, keeping your Himalayan inside is a great way to ensure that you are not going to have to deal as much with fleas, since they’re not as likely to come inside searching for a pet when there are better chances of them finding one outside on their own.
These are just tips, but each one will help you prevent illness and disease from being spread to your children, who are most susceptible to these issues. This is not a reason to forgo your desire to adopt or purchase a Himalayan cat, but it is something to be aware of.
Photo by Getty Images