It warms my heart to know that cats and dogs and have achieved peace in our time. I know plenty of people who live with both, and everyone gets along beautifully. But cats and toddlers? That's a whole 'nother story. I don't know that cats and toddlers were ever meant to live under the same roof with each other.
Well, maybe it's okay if you've got a sweet, mellow, older cat. Then you're fine. But a toddler with a temperamental cat is just asking for trouble. What do you do if your cat and toddler just don't get along?
A writer asked this question in a pet advice column. Apparently her toddler keeps wanting to play with the family cat (a nine-year-old). And the cat has been acting out, hissing at the little boy and refusing to use the litter box. Can't you just see it? The little curious two-year-old sees this ball of fur and just wants to have fun with it. And that cat can't believe this small human keeps BUGGING him.
I've been there. In my case, my son arrived first, and then when he was around three we adopted a one-year-old-ish cat. We didn't know it when we adopted her, but Madeline had some issues already. She must have had a very traumatic kittenhood, because she was already kind of aggressive and had elimination issues. Worst of all, she would lash out at us, including my son. She was so mean!
Anyway, the advice columnist recommends getting the cat checked out by a vet among other things. But she also suggests having "controlled play" between the cat and the toddler. Um, okay, I guess? I wish she'd talk more about that controlled play, because neither cats nor toddlers like being controlled. So you sit on the cat and have your toddler pet it? Or you sit on your toddler and let your cat sniff him? I'm kidding. KIDDING!
I think the most important thing is to teach your kids how to treat animals gently and cautiously. And then ride it out until your child is older! That's what we did. My son caught on pretty quickly: Don't touch hot things, and don't touch that cat. It's too bad, though. I always wanted them to have a more affectionate relationship, but they never did. But at least as my son got older they learned to tolerate each other.
Do you have problems with your toddler around pets?
Image via andrechinn/Flickr