2.5 Year Old Teasing Cats

Updated on March 26, 2011
K.Z. asks from Lisle, IL
14 answers

Our 2.5 year old daughter is currently finding chasing and screeching at our 2 cats (both 7 years old) great fun. She does not physically harm them in any way and never has and is actually gentle with them. However,she has begun running after them and cornering them which is causing them to hiss and growl at her (she is usually laughing or screeching at the top of her lungs as well). We have tried time outs, exlaining to her the cats don't want to play, the cats are having a time out, not to yell at the cats as it hurts their ears, etc.. Honestly, my husband and I are at a loss as to how to get her to stop when she is teasing the cats (we do have a gate and put the cats out of her reach, but as soon as they are back in her vacinity it all starts again). Any suggestions on how to handle this would be greatly appreciated.

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answers from Detroit on

The second she starts going after the cats, get a hold of her, get down on her level, look her right in the face, and very sternly say "No! We do not chase the cats! It's not nice!". Then have her do a time-out in the corner or sitting on a designated "naughty spot" for 2 minutes. Set a timer and if she leaves the area, stick her right back in and start the timer all over again. After the time-out is done, remind her again that she is not to chase after the cats. You may need to do it a number of times but if you are consistent and firm and make it known that you mean business, she should start getting the message. No more explanations - she won't get that for a while.

This is how I have to discipline my 3 yo DD when she gets all "attitudy" and decides not to listen - then the rest of the day she is magically much more cooperative.

It may take one of the cats giving her a swat to finally get it through to her, but I would also hate to see her really get a bad scratch in a place like her eye. And cat bites are really nasty - they can get badly infected and need to be treated with antibiotics.

4 moms found this helpful

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answers from Sacramento on

The cats will eventually get fed up and scratch her. She will then stop tesing them.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

I agree with DVMMOM, this is what I do with my 2.5 year old. She used to be so gentle with the cats, but a few months ago a lot of times she chased them or like you said, cornered them and liked to pull their tails sometimes or hit them on the head and for the most part they run away but sometimes the 2 cats (one is 3yrs old and one is almost 2yrs old) growl or my 3 yr old orange cat will put his ears down and then I would know she is seriously getting on my cat's last nerve. My 2yr old black cat will swat at her to get her away, she's never scratched my daughter but she hits her if you know what I mean. But neither are declawed (personal beliefs) so I do the same thing DVMMOM does and my daughter rarely does it now. My cats jump over the gate in front of the cat litter box or go hide in the den to get away from her. Good luck :)

Do your cats have certain signs that they are on their last nerve with your daughter? Like how my orange cat puts his ears down and flicks his tail only when he is seriously mad.

Your cats aren't aggressive it's natural to be mad when someone hurts you. Don't get rid of your cats for it geez, I can't believe someone suggested that lol. If I was being teased and chased I'd be irritated to.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Hmmm... being the cat I would be irked too.

Well, she is 2 years old.
They have no fully developed impulse control, yet.

If the cat lashes out at her... well they are NOT at fault either.
Its just instinct.

Or, maybe you can have a place for your cats to run to, where they are not reachable?
I've seen some homes, that have a 'cat walk' or 'ramps'... basically, on their walls going up, where the cats can go. Platforms or scaffolding. And a "perch" up high. With pegs or things on it so they can climb up it. Or mini "ladders" kind of thing... slats nailed to the wall so the cats can climb up it, but not a kid.
You can just use boards that are like 3-4" across... lumber. And your Husband can make one for your walls/room.
It actually looks pretty cool in the home... you can paint it in nice colors, make it a part of the home etc. It also provides exercise for the cats etc.

The cats need a place to go, where only THEY can go and she cannot.
Everybody and pets... do need to get away from it all, so to speak.
A hideaway.

The cats probably get stressed out... being chased all the time.

all the best,

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

I'm a big believer in cause and effect. Let her find out what happens when she chases the cat and the cat scratches her. That will be the last time she does it, I promise. Cats are very effective at defending themselves, and if nothing else works... sometimes letting your child learn it the hard way is the most effective thing you can do. My younger daughter is a real live-wire and she learned the hard way at about 18 months. She wouldn't go anywhere near the cat for the next 3 years. Now she and the cat have come to terms with each other and they get along fine.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I've had similar problems with both of my kids (1.5 and almost 4) at some point bothering/hitting/screaming at all of our animals (2 dogs and 2 cats). We had great luck with consistently using time outs and reading a book called Tails are Not for Pulling by Elizabeth Verdick. My older child is now fabulous with our animals, often modeling respectful behavior to her younger brother. Just keep handing out the consequences! Good luck...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Just reminding her, "inside voice"
"Cats need to be left alone"
" cats like soft and gentle touches"
" we do not chase the cats".

You do not want the cats to become skittish, it is not fair to them.
Eventually the cats will teach her. They will eventually react with a scratch.. Just be prepared to calm your daughter down.. it will not have been the cats fault.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Maybe you should give her a little swat on the bottom or on her hand and sternly say ''NO!'', is she cries, let her cry she has got to learn not to mess with those poor cats! I have two cats myself and when my boy gets to that age I will surely do the same to him if he terrorizes my cats!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My cars litter box/food area was blocked off by baby gates to keep the dogs away. It also helped with the wee ones.
And mine did have to learn that cats have sharp parts.



answers from Cumberland on

Get rid of the cats-they sound aggressive and might injure your child.



answers from Seattle on

as I was reading your question I had to giggle because we have one cat that our 2 yearold can do anything to. He even managed to cut his ear not once but twice.lol So I had to not only punish the 2 yearold but the older boys for leaving siccors out.lol Luckily so far it sounds like your cats are trying to be good and not attacke in self defense but it may be what it will take for her to stop. When my two yearold was going through a rough stage with our cats we would go over and tell him be gentle give kitty love and we would show him and he would copy.


answers from Washington DC on

Give the cats a place to go.
Natural consequences will take care of the rest.



answers from Chicago on

It sounds like you are doing everything right to me. You are teaching your daughter to care for and respect the animals. Certainly harmful physical contact with the pet needs to have real consequences (like time out etc). But the yelling and chasing and screeching I don't think is that big of a deal - just a gentle reminder that it's not nice to yell at the cat. As long as they cats have a safe place they can get to away from her they will be fine.

My cat hissed and batted at both our kids for the same reason, and now she just stays away, and so do the kids for the most part. You making it a big deal may be adding to your daughters fun :) It will all shake out - no worries.

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