DD And Cat

Updated on January 01, 2013
A.M. asks from Santa Ana, CA
9 answers

My 4 1/2 yr old will not leave our cat alone. The cat is 17 yrs old, deaf, and feisty. My DD gets right in the cat's face, pulls on her, and recently cornered the cat. DD has been bitten and scratched multiply times and it has no effect! We've tried timeouts, taking away toys and privileges, and even separation from the cats. DD just won't listen. Today she cornered the cat and got scratched from the corner of her eye (just missed the eye itself) down to her chin. We're at our wits' end. Any suggestions besides getting rid of our pet?


What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

We do have "supervised" time with the cats where we hold the cat and DD pets her and we have cat toys that DD gets to use to interact with the cats. She gets rough after a few minutes. DD is aware of the signs when kitty has had enough, but ignores them. We've talked to DD multiple times about being gentle . I think we may just have to put the cat in another room when DD is home until she learns to treat her pet more gently.

Featured Answers


answers from Norfolk on

The cat is only defending himself.
He's just old and relatively helpless and wants to be left alone.
A 4.5 yr old has a better understanding than a toddler.
She should know by now that the cat is not a stuffed toy and feels pain.
It's amazing DD has been scratched up and continues to go back for more.
I don't suppose you'd consider spanking DD whenever she goes near the cat(s).
If you can't keep them separated, it would be kinder to find another home for the cats.
You can't let the animals and child damage each other.
If daughter has no empathy/kindness for pets you might not be able to have any till she's much older.

5 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Baton Rouge on

You could always rehome the child.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

The issue is not the cat so much as it is the child refusing to behave. There has to be something the child values - time, toy, activity - that will get her attention. I have a 4.5 yr old myself and I know they do not always want to listen. Sometimes you have to be drastic. So I would go for a high value item at this point, like maybe going straight to bed or no playdate or something. Have you asked her why she harasses the cat? I'm actually surprised that she continues when the cat has fought back. Maybe knowing what is in her little mind would help. Or maybe she knows that she'll get attention so when you handle it, you simply pick her up and put her in her room without interaction so she loses your attention, too.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

It is up to you to teach her kindness toward her pets. You posted the outcoomes and the goings on, but at no point do you post that you have taught her to deal with pets. Speak to her pediatrician, there may be an underlying reason as to why she has no love or empathy for her pets. This may be a red flag for something more serious.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Is it just the cat or does she have trouble getting along with other children?
If she is still hitting, poking etc other children like a toddler I would be worried, If it is just the cat, you need a strict NO Touching the Cat Rule. Tell her when she is five she will get another chance to be gentle with the cat but that Four yr olds just cannot touch cats. Touching the cat or cornering the cat results immediately in strict discipline! Time out or losing her favorite toy or Tv show. There are also books like "Be Gentle with the Cat"
Good Luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

Keep the cat in an area she can't get to. I know that cats are independent and will go where they go but she's being a 4 year old. She is going to do this no matter what.

I am surprised the cat hasn't become a recluse....lol. That's what my FIL's cat did. She hears our car coming up the drive and she runs off to hide. The kids hardly even notice her if she shows up, if we're being quiet she will think we left, so it's way past the time when they'd terrorize her by trying to pet her.

I think that if your daughter hasn't learned to leave the cat alone and is seriously at risk that I would do something better than a gate, perhaps keeping the cat behind closed doors that she can't open. The cat would need to be where it can eat, drink, and poop and also able to move around, look out a window, sit in the sunshine, etc...the cat won't be with your for many more years and deserves to have peace. So keep them separate as much as you possibly can.

If she goes to pre-school the cat can have free reign of the house. When she gets out the cat goes in your bedroom or somewhere else safe and comfortable. Then when she goes to bed the cat gets free reign again.

She should be past this stage in 6 months or so. I would think she'd just be interested in something else.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

You have to be consistent with your DD. My DD is 5 and has a hard time leaving our puppy be. She is not malicious, but the teasing and rough housing get the puppy all riled up and are simply not allowed.
We give one warning/reminder and then a timeout for EVERY offense to DD. It has gotten a lot better, but they still need supervision...and the occasional correction.
This is not something that you solve with a simple fix, I see it like sibling squabbles - sure they *know* how they are supposed to behave with each other, but knowing and doing are two different things.
Make a rule, have a consequence and stick to it... just like with everything else.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

Have you tried supervised "visits" with the cat where you sit down with your daughter and the cat and correct behaviors on the spot that lead to your daughter being scratched and bitten? These visits can provide a good learning time for you to show your child, "See how the cat is purring now? He/she is happy and likes the way you're petting him/her," "See how the cat's ears are down/back? See how the cat's tail is twitching? That means the cat is getting upset. You're being too loud/rough." Show her how to pet the cat the correct way and always end the visit before things get out of hand by saying, "The cat is telling us with his ears and tail that he doesn't want anymore love right now. Let's let him rest now." And take your daughter somewhere else at that point.

We had a very high strung (mildly crazy) cat that I got before my husband and I married. We were worried about her with kids once we got married. For awhile we just kept everyone separated until we had our daughter who, like yours, just wouldn't pay attention to the cat's "Leave me alone!" signals. We even had a claw in the eye incident. Very scary! After that, we went through extensive training like what I described above with all of our kids. We never had another incident of any of the children being scratched or bitten, even once the cat became terminally ill. I believe it helped by removing the "forbidden" status of the cat as well as teaching the kids to read the cat's body language since most of a cat's communication IS body language.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

Could you get another cat? I'm guessing your daughter really just wants a pet she can play with or interact with. A pet you can't cuddle or play with isn't much fun. I imagine if she had a pet she could enjoy she would leave the old one alone. When I was a kid I loved cats and we always had cats. Our cats were very social, loved to be petted and held and put up with all sorts of stuff from little kids. I had a friend who had a really nasty cat, and I was scratched many times by that cat because I just couldn't understand why it didn't want to be held or to play with me. We have two very lovable cats we have had since before our boys were born. The cats love the boys and the boys love the cats.

1 mom found this helpful
For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions