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Children & Burmese. PDF Print E-mail
Written by Melanie   

Burmese are generally wonderful with children! Being an affectionate breed that love and require a lot of attention Burmese and Kids are generally like two peas in a pod.

I think it is vital for a child to grow up with pets. Children learn a lot from having a pet and it is a fun way for them to learn some important life skills. Life skills learned through pet ownership will enhance your childs understanding of Relationships, Hierarchy, Respect, Personal Space, Boundaries, Responsibility, Care/Maintanence, Illness (and unfortuately eventually death) which are all vital life skills and part of pet ownership.

If there are children in the home that haven't owned a dog or a cat before I would strongly recommend that boys be at least 5 or 6 years old and girls at least 4 and 1/2 or 5 before the kitten comes home. If you have recently owned or currently do own another animal and your children are aware of how to act and and behave around animals and how to handle young animals AND you know your children are gentle and understand when to leave the animal alone and understand and follow instructions when you as the parent says "NO or STOP" then obviously you can evaluate your situation based on that.

From my experience children under that age that aren't familiar with pets in their home struggle with picking the kitten up, holding it correctly and often their excitement is a little uncontrollable. Unfortunately we have had some sad stories of children quickly closing doors to stop the kitten getting in or out and kittens getting crushed or kittens being picked up and carried round the neck and being strangled. We have had another example of children making a "bed" in an esky and closing the lid leaving the kittens inside to suffocate... They are sad stories but I feel it is necessary to share these with parents of young children that are thinking about getting a kitten. It is important that as parents we don't put on our rose coloured glasses and assume that all will be fine and "our kids won't do that". Young children (generally under the age of 4 or 5) don't have the cognitive developement to understand that a kitten isn't a walking stuffed toy. Imagine the trauma and guilt a young child is going to experience if they kill a kitten you have only just brought home! Wouldn't it be better to wait 6 months, a year or even 2 or 3 years if necessary? Your child is going to have a kitten for 14+ years... WHAT IS THE RUSH? Take your time and do what is right for everyone.

I would also like to share some  stories as to why I think young children that aren't familiar with pets in the home should be a little older before a Burmese is brought home to be part of the family.... It is not to my advantage to discourage people with young children from purchasing a kitten. I say this only because of experience as a Mother of 2 young children and based on my experiences as a breeder. Please note that in these examples the children were not being nasty, cruel or silly but actully intending to care for and look after their treasured pet. It is a lack of maturity in ALL of these examples that resulted in the situation that unfolded and in many cases the death or injury of the kitten. 

EXAMPLE 1: September 2017...

I received this text message from a mother of 6 year old boy that had collect two little Boy Burmese kittens from us in the days prior to her sending this text message to me.  

 

Obviously the kittens are active and playful. They will pounce and jump with no intention of injuring or hurting the child but if the child is caught off guard some children can become fearful of the kitten if this occurs.  On occasion young children can withdraw and not want contact with the kitten/s. The handling of a kitten when a child is fearful and scared can cause injury and or death to the kitten so ensuring even the most excided child remains calm and handles the kitten appropriately is vital.

EXAMPLE 2: A few years ago I sold a stunning show quality cat to a young family who I will call "Miss Pea Body". When they came to meet me and this beautiful little girl the children came along too, as usually occurs. At the end of their visit I told the family that I felt that the youngest child (who happened to be a boy) was really a little too young - In my opinion I thought he was a typical little boy, keen to be hands-on and probably not at an age where obedience was a high priority - Normal for most 3 or 4 year old children at times especially given that he had little to NO pet experience and the sight of a furry, playful kitten running around was nearly too much for him to deal with. I could see that he just couldn't contain his excitement. I explained that waiting a year or 2 would probably be in everyones best interest but they decided that they wanted to go ahead so I rather reluctantly agreed. 

They took home this adorable little girl who was friendly and affectionate and had quite a loud Purr. Over the months Miss Pea Body would come to me for visits when the family would go away on holidays. I noticed over the initial months that she became less and less affectionate then as she matured into an adult cat I found she actually became rather aggressive. It finally got to a point that I was unable to handle the cat and I was actually scared of her - NOT NORMAL for a burmese. I became ashamed that I had produced such a nasty cat and figured that maybe the genetics were partly to blame so I desexed the mother and the father who were both lovely but I didn't wish to risk this happening again.

After a few years the mother of the family phoned me tears saying she just couldn't take it any more.... They couldn't control how rough the little boy was with Miss Pea Body and they felt sorry that she had to be locked away from the family all the time because the little boy was so rough with her. The mother made the decision to give her back to me. The older children in particular were beside themselves at having to surrender the family pet and I must admit I wasn't thrilled by the concept at having her back. What was I going to do with her? She was a boardline case that I just didn't know if I could rehabilitate....

I kept "Miss Pea Body" here for a few weeks, worked with her and calmly spent time with her gaining her trust. Slowly we saw improvements and then finally I was able to hold, pat and then cuddle her to the point I could scratch her belly. An amazing improvement. "Miss Pea Body" went to a new home with a single Older Lady and she is a totally different cat these days. She is spoilt wrotten and lives a life of luxury. She is now happy, friendly and affectionate so it is wonderful to see this outcome.

This just goes to show that sometimes waiting for the right time and listening to a professional opinion is beneficial for everyone. Remember, you a likely to have a cat for 14, 15, 16++++ years - WHY RUSH! Take your time and get a cat when all members of the family can really love and cherish the value of a family pet - Everyone will win in the long run.

EXAMPLE 3:

A family with 2 young girls collected 2 little kittens and the daughters with the best intentions made a lovely bed for the kittens in an Esky by lining it with the softest baby blankets and putting in little pillows. Sadly the Children were lacking the maturity to comprehend that the closed lid would reduce the oxygen supply and as a result the kittens died.

EXAMPLE 4: A 5 month old kitten was accidently killed when a child quickly closed a door to stop the kitten escaping. The child who had been told to ensure the door remained closed and to not allow the kitten outside which is obviously very important but young children struggle to comprehend the consequences of their actions and cognative development to be aware of timing, space and distance. 

EXAMPLE 5:  A family with a 7 year old boy and a 3 year old girl had just arrived home from swimming lessons in the middle of winter. The heater was on and the kind hearted little boy made a cosy bed with the towel infront of the heater wrapping the kitten up and gently rubbing his head while he went off to sleep. Once the kitten was asleep the boy raced of to the toilet at which point the little 3 year old girl bounded into the room plonking herself down in front of the heater on the comfy towel not realising the kitten was there. A genuine accident but again this shows that spatial awareness and developmental maturity is very important around young, vulnerable animals. 

EXAMPLE 6: I received an email from a lady that had purchased a kitten (Not a Burmese) from another breeder she was on my waiting list but as a result of this incident canceld her order.... Her email said...

"Fuzz ball was not where I had thought and I can only assume my toddler must have either frightened or picked him in up in a toddler way and accidentally hurt him and she could have lost an eye.  She screamed her head of and there was a bust lip and some nasty scratches.  Kitten was fine thankfully.

I have been very careful to supervise for both the kitten and the toddler but as you know accidents happen and I could not have a disfigured child or injured kitten on my hands...."

No matter how attentitive mothers think they can be and how much they intend to "always have an eye on things"....lets just say the the best intentions don't always end up being reality. As a busy mother, I know that phone calls occur, put on a load of washing, make dinner and we do need to use the bathroom occasionally, or possibly just have 5 minutes away from our adorable children for some piece and quiet before we totally loose our minds and book into a mental institution...(yes, I have had one of those days). Keeping an eye on the contact between kitten and child is not always possible 100% of the time. 

 

EXAMPLE 7: A kitten was laying on the bed and in a genuine accident the kitten was rolled on causing significant injury to the kittens leg.  The Muscle and Tendon damage was extensive and required surgery at a significant cost. 

The email from the client said..."She unfortunately had to have a General anaesthetic for the X-ray.  The X-ray showed a break at the growth plate and the very top of the Femur near where the ball bit is.   Apparently where the growth plate is - it is very weak and its especially weak in young cats under 2. It gets stronger as they get older.  I have heard cats can break it on there own just jumping and playing around.

So the news was bad.  We could not leave it as it is because it would not get better on its own and she would be in ongoing pain.
 I was hoping the X-ray would show something less serious. 
She said I could go to a specialist and get some screws and plates put in which would cost about $4500 or more.   

She said a better option would be a FHO. Femoral Head Ostectomy. - I have researched it online.
It does sound quite bad and severe but the vet said and also according to my research - cats do very well with this operation and have a great outcome. It is even done with success in small dogs.

The ball portion of the joint is removed to prevent pain. So basically after the operation the femur is not touching the hip, the leg is floating. None of the muscle that support the hind leg are removed during the surgery.  The muscles that span between the pelvis,spine and hind leg take over the natural hips functions and she should be pain free.
Some pets do retain a mild limp but no pain and some don't even have a limp"

Another genuine accident but again this just shows that spatial awareness and developmental maturity is very important around young, vulnerable animals that can be injured and hurt easily. 

Please note that in the majority of the above examples the children were not being nasty, cruel or silly but actully intending to care for and look after their treasured pet. It is a lack of maturity in ALL of these examples that resulted in the death or injury of the kitten or injury to the child. 

 

 

On a happier note: 

An Aunty and Uncle of mine own a cat that we bred (a brown burmese boy). At the time I sent the kitten up to them in Brisbane my cousin and her daughter were living with them. My cousins little girl was only about 4 or 5 at the time and she already actually owned a rescue moggy kitten of similar age. Being a little girl she thought that dressing the cats up, putting them to "bed" in the dolls bed and wheeling the cats around in her dolls pram were all wonderful ideas. Unfortunately her moggy kitten was not keen on this idea at all and usually ran and hid. The burmese on the other hand was very tollerant and quite happy to be subjected to this and still to this day (the cat is now about 4) when the little girl comes to nanna and grandad's to visit he is just wonderful with her. She is quite gentle with him but he is amazingly tolerant of her. In fact they seem to share a special bond. He still gets pushed around (sometimes at quite speed) in walkers on wheels and in dolls prams. We have sold many cats to people that have gone on to have children later or already have children at the time and generally the Burmese and the Kids are the best of friends and often share some really special bonds.

Last Updated on Saturday, 14 October 2017 23:29
 

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