Cat and a 3 Year Old

Updated on July 17, 2008
S.J. asks from Tampa, FL
11 answers

hello all!!! ok so my boyfriends mom gave my daughter a cat about 2 months ago and I am not really an animal person but my daughter and my boyfriend are so the cat is stating, which is fine its a good cat actually, but my daughter treats it like a dog. she wants thae cat to play with her and is trying to train it like a dog, she also is kind of ruff with it. My b/f and I have tried to show her how to be soft and she really thinks she is but she will try to pick it up by its arms and carries it with her like a toy, thank god the cat doesnt seem to mind tooo much and when the cat gets annoyed she runs and hides, but sometimes the cat will get mad my daughter has gotten a few scratches nothing bad, we are going to get its claws removed, but I reallly need some advice on how to teach my daughter to be soft we have told her why she needs to and how she needs to be with the cat but she just wont stop rough housing with it. I have even started putting her in time out when she is getting to rough and wont leave the cat alone, but she wont stop, I know this seems kind of like a silly question but it seems like all I am doing is monitoring the cat and my daughter, I would like nothing more than to just get rid of the cat but that is not going to happen, so if anyone has any sugestions on teaching kids how to be with animals..oh also the reason I am not an animal person is I am afraid of them and have been attacked by lots of dogs and cats and I really dont want my daughter to be afraid of animals the way I am so I dont want to use scaare tactics also ....anyway thank you in advance

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So What Happened?

thank you every one!!! after reading all the resposes we are now not going to get the cat declawed, I thought that was just soething you did to inside cats, but it sounds like everything going on here is normal thankyou again for the advice everyone!!!

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answers from Pensacola on

I've had the same problem and trying to stop Jules hasn't worked. Roxy lets her know when she's had enough by biting or running away. I've decided to just let Roxy bite her cause I want Julia to understand that what she's doing is wrong and this is what will happen of the cat is unhappy. But if I see Roxy bite her for no reason other than she's petting her then the cat is in big trouble. They both need to understand that's it's not right and so far it's worked. Plus if the cats not running away if must not be to bad casue she will when she's tired of it. Plus my cat has been declawed front feet only becasue she ripped up the wall paper in my bathroom and she's none the worse for it. She still kills stuff and I think it has made it easier for her and Julia to get along. It isn't as bad as you think otherwise I never would have done it.

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answers from Melbourne on

I have 17 month old twins and am in the process of trying to teach them to be nice to my cats also. Kids are just a little rough even though its not thier intention. I have no advice as to how to get her to be more gentle (I just take my kid's hands and softly slide them along my cat's back and say "nice" all the time) but please, please dont have your poor cat declawed. That would be like someone ripping out your fingernails then making you do your every day chores with raw fingertips. How will your poor cat feel trying to scratch in a litter box?



answers from Tampa on

I just wanted to tell you that I have 7 (big) dogs and 2 cats. My son is also 3 1/2 and he can get a little rough with the cats also. It doesn't seem to be a problem, just something normal. My cats both have their claws removed so I dont have much reason to worry. Cats take care of themselves and will put up with quite a bit and when they're over it they'll run and hide. Unless the cat starts to bite, which could get serious, and your son isn't REALLY hurting the cat, just being rough, I wouldn't see any reason to really worry about it, it's just normal for 3 AND a boy :)



answers from Tampa on

If the cat doesn't seem to mind too much, I would just show her how to pet the cat, and keep telling her to be gentle as you show her. Then I would take her hand and help her pet the cat to let her feel how gentle she should be. And if the cat does like to play, either buy some toys she can use to play with the cat or give her an old shoe lace to drag around and the cat will follow, then she can play without being rough. I have had several cats, ever since I can remember and most of them all loved to chase a shoe lace or anything that I was pulling behind me. I did hav one cat who was declawed and she was never the same. This also happened to a cat my grandmother had declawed. They were both miserable, hid from everybody and when they finally came out of hiding, all they would do is hiss and growl at anyone who tried to pet them. My grandmother's cat actually resorted to biting. Please think twice about having your cat declawed.



answers from Sarasota on

I too have a daughter that just turned three this week. I'm not sure at her age that I can impress respect for animals on her, at least not that she'll always remember. We have a very patient dog who will put up with just about anything, and we have to tell our daughter over and over to "be gentle." She does seem to remember most of the time, but when she gets excited, she may just run up and grab the dog, or pinch her, or try to whack her with something. I think at this age, we just don't have much choice but to watch them all the time with animals.

Maybe you and the cat could take a break every so often if you put the cat in another area where your daughter can't get to her. Or how about a kitty tree or window seat where she can jump up out of reach when she wants?

One thing you might want to think really carefully about is the declawing. I used to be a vet tech, and his (the vet's)first priority when someone came in to inquire about having their cat declawed was to try to talk them out of it. Now, if they absolutely insisted, he would do the surgery, because he would rather do that than to have them get rid of the cat, or take it to a vet that wasn't as caring. But he made sure that they knew that there could be serious complications. Declawing isn't exactly what it sounds like, what's actually being done is that you amputate each toe at the first joint. Like cutting off each of your fingertips at the first joint. There can be problems with anesthesia, with infection and sometimes even with the way they walk. If they get outside, they have no protection, and we saw lots of cats each week that got out for a couple of hours, and came back ripped up. Now, years before I was a tech, I had a cat declawed, all four feet, I was traveling on the road, and she was tearing the furniture up in every hotel room. Her feet got infected, and washing her feet while squeezing the pus out was no fun for either one of us. I swore I would never do that again, and with all my other cats I've trained them to sit still in my lap while I trimmed their claws very short. If you'd like to send me a message through Mamasource, I'll tell you how I did it.

One thing that's really important, make sure you get that cat spayed or neutered (if it's not all ready)! A female will do whatever she has to to get out when she's in heat, and you will eventually get surprised with a big batch of kittens. Their cycles can start as early as their fourth or fifth month, and can repeat every two to three weeks. Cats can seem like they're always in heat. Males, on the other hand, will fight and spray everything in sight. I can't tell you how many incidents we had with un-neutered male cats. If you wait until they mature to neuter them, and they've started spraying, you may not be able to get them to stop.

I hope things work out for you. I can't imagine not having animals around, and I think they can be really good for children. I let my kids take turns feeding the dog each day, they love it and it seems to help them understand that they need to take care of her. And maybe the cat will grow on you, you never know. It can't be any fun to be afraid of animals, especially when they seems to be everywhere these days. I've seen people in Sarasota take their dogs into just about every store, and now I think they can even take them to lunch at the Ritz-Carlton!



answers from Fort Myers on

i know you already have lot of advice but my daughter dose the same thing to her cat drags her around like a baby doll but after a while(of watching every move that she made) and as long as she not hurting the cat i let her go the cat tells her when enough is enough it's so funny to see how kids handle animals sometimes!



answers from Reno on

Hey I would suggest on getting animal videos with Kids in it or going to the animal shelter and asking one of the employyes to due a demo on hot to care/ handle cats. They more often listen to others then us parents.

I have a similar situation at home. I run a day care at my house and a have a small chihuahua but she is funny she runs after the Kids toys and wants to play w/ it so when the Kids want it back she gets mad. LOL =)



answers from San Francisco on

Hi, some of the larger pet stores Petco, PetSmart offer classes for children and pets. I'm sure you can find a private instructor if you looked at Craigslist or called your vet or the petstore. Your daughter is doing nothing out of the ordinary and the advice given so far is good. Great decision on not having the cat declawed. Good luck to you and the cat ;-)



answers from Jacksonville on

I agree with the post from MJ, please reconsider declawing your cat. Besides the horrible pain to the pet for the amputation of each digit (up to the first knuckle) and the chance of ongoing infections if bone fragments are left behind after surgery (I adopted a dewclawed cat with these infections) the biggest problem is the possiblity of biting. You wouldn't think that claws and teeth have anything to do with the other but they do. Depending on the age the cat is and the personality of the cat, some cats feel the need to defend themselves with their teeth after getting declawed. They become defensive, mean, and bite quite often. As a former cat rehabilitator, I've seen many cats returned from adoption to a loving home after they got the cats declawed and the cat became a defensive biter.

Keep in mind that, they are both family and will need to learn to get along. According to your post the cat only scratches when your daughter is rough with her. Then it sounds like the cat is only responding in self defense. What is the cat doing wrong? If your daughter was being rough with another child at a playground and the other child acted in self defense, how would you respond? Consider the same response for this situation.

Well, hopefully she'll learn quickly that the cat only scratches her when she is hurting the cat and when she is gentle with the cat, the cat doesn't hurt her. You need to spend time with the cat in a loving way (even though you admit to not being fond of animals). Set the example.



answers from Tampa on

I'm glad you're not going with declawing! It really is cruel and IMO shouldn't ever be done. Anyway, bear in mind that things WILL get easier. It just requires a lot of training on the part of your child, to teach her that the cat is not her personal toy. Kids and pets can be fantastic together - we currently have two dogs, two cats and two turtles - it just takes a little practice. And letting her get scratched a couple times isn't the worst thing in the world, that can be a pretty effective immediate consequence of not treating the cat how a cat should be treated.



answers from Lakeland on

My daughter (4) used to terrorize our cats. She wasn't mean to them, and they are far too big for her to pick up (she sure would try) but she wanted them to be as her toy, do what she wanted when she wanted them to. She also used to find the cat treats and shake them till the cats would come running to her, and then not give them a treat(I hat to hide them for a while). I think it helped by comparing her to the cat. I told her things like "would you like for me to hold out a sucker and let you run all the way to me and then not give it to you?" and she would respond "no" and I would tell her "well that isn't nice to do to the kitties either". Or "would you like me to wake you up everytime you go to sleep? Well the kitties don't like that either." I put these things nicely, but I think it helped comparing her to them. She doesn't seem to bother them as much. Maybe if you tell your daughter "would you liek to be carried around by the paw/arm" she will understand a little better, lol.
Now, occasionally, I'll walk by one of my cats asleep in the a chair or on the floor and they will have a cup and saucer from her teaset, along with some play food, for them to "Eat when they wake up". Lol :)

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