Most kids will be thrilled at the prospect of having a kitten at home and will quite happily spend hours playing games and fussing over their new pet.

In fact, new research published in the Journal of Developmental Psychology has revealed that kids as young as 11 months show more interest in live animals than toys, even ones made to replicate real living creatures.

However, if you are planning on introducing a new moggie into the household, it is vital that you take steps to ensure that your cat and child are comfortable around each other and grow up to have a happy and harmonious relationship.

Owning a pet can help make your child more responsible and sociable but an over-exited, boisterous child can be intimidating for a young cat, so it's a good idea to lay down a few ground rules before bringing your pet home.

"The environment you offer your pet should always be safe," says Sarah Gould of Monster Pet Supplies. "If you have young children, it’s important to teach them how to behave with the new addition to the family from the offset.

"Make sure your child doesn't pull on the pet's fur or tail, approach them when they're eating or enjoying a treat or feed the new pet any of their own food."

Set out an area in your home when your feline friend has their bedding, cat food and litter tray and make sure your child knows that this is the cat's area and that they should not be disturbed here.

It's a good idea to take some time to show a young child how to handle their pet gently by encouraging careful stroking and playing with a selection of cat toys.

You should also encourage little ones to take an interest in aspects of pet care such as feeding and grooming which, although they should never be left to a child to do alone, can help them learn about responsibility when carried out with an adult.

Written by: Hannah