What to Do When Your Cat Hates Your Toddler

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cat toddlerIt 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

play, toddler activities, safety, pets

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Lovin... LovinJerseyMama

Animals teach kids about compassion & responsibility plus many studies have shown that children who grow up in a household with animals have a significantly lower chance of developing asthma and other allergies as they get older. That being said, kids need to learn to respect animals. I hate when people put their animals up for adoption because of a new baby or rough toddler. There's no reason why you can't have both and be happy. It takes work and commitment, both of which are sorely lacking in our society at this point. I supervised my children & animals when they were younger to make sure neither party hurt the other. When my girls got too rough with their play I let my cats put them in their place. My cats are very loving and docile and never drew blood when reprimanding the kids. But they would smack the kids if they were over the rough housing. My kids love our cats and vice versa. They respect them now and use those same lessons they learned when we interact with other animals. 

jalaz77 jalaz77

No pets here. Focusing on our soon to be 4th child. That's enough work. Our parents have a dog so we are good ; ) I will say this we do teach the kids not to pull ears and tails. We also watch our kids around my patents dog cause it is an animal and there is always a high risk of an animal harming a child. It's an animal, when they don't feel good, get stepped on, bugged, whatever, they will snap.

lobus lobus

Get rid of it. We gave our black lab to my MIL when I had my first. The situation worked out perfectly and we will not get another pet until our children are big enough to be able to take care of them. As a new mom I simply didnt have time patience or energy for my dog and he growled and snapped at him. Nothing is more important than my childrens safety and at the end of the day, a pet is a pet....

sofia... sofia0587

Get rid of it, my child comes before any pet no matter how much I may have loved it.

momof... momof1teengirl

Have always had cats and love them to pieces.  Had to adopt out my sweet baby girl cat when my daughter came along.  Neither had done anything to harm the other, but they had a mutual dislike of each other.  Daughter scared of cat; cat scared of daughter.  Well, I'm certainly not getting rid of my daughter!  So cat had to go.  We had 2 cats and the other was fine.  Broke my heart, but the cat went to a good home and I had a daughter who didn't cry and hide every time she saw the cat.


 

nonmember avatar Daune

We adopted a cat when my oldest was 2. After 6 months the cat ran away and never looked back. He stayed in the area but every time I saw him and tried to coax him back he'd hiss at me and run off.

nonmember avatar sarah grace

My parents had a cat since before I was born. As a toddler, I would treat the cat as toddlers do, and he would turn around, livid,, ready to beat up whoever bothered him. But when he saw it was just the baby, he visibly relaxed and just walked away.

Casey Dalbey

My childhood cat who I had from when I was 4 to 21, hated my sister to the point of chasing her around the house and clawing. It was all a big joke until my sister brought her toddler to visit....the cat hated my nephew with as much passion as she hated my sister. Claws were always out to attack this poor child and we had to lock the cat in my bedroom whenever my newphew was around. However, my son was the cats favorite person in the world and she never stratched him even when being carried around by her tail.

Laith... Laitheledh

LovinJerseyMama I completely agree with your method of letting the animals "discipline" the kids. We have 3 cats 8, 1 1/2 and 6 months, and the 8 yr old is just a grumpy old man, and our daughter knows to leave him alone and if she gets scratched for pestering him it's her fault. But we have had incidents where he lashed out at her for no reason, and of course we put him in a seperate room (usually in the bathroom) until he calmed down. The other two kitties just run away if they don't want to be played with. Our daughter is 3 and we are just now getting her used to being gentle and holding them so they are comfortable. She still doesnt always let them go if they start squirming but she is learning. I just have to remind her to let them go. It's really a beautiful thing watching my daughter and animals play. As long as you teach your children to be gentle and not over excite your pets it should (key word) be a pretty harmonious household.

Renee... ReneeN1979

Over the last 3 decades I've learned that cats will generally tolerate a new human being until that human is a toddler. Once the human is a toddler, the cat will try to tolerate the child until the child goes too far. I may be in the minority on this, but one scratch from any cat was all it took for all of my children to learn "don't mess with animals."


I knew my cats would never kill my children, or even seriously maim them. At worst, all any of them did was scratch the toddler. And I think that's an important lesson for a child: don't mess with animals.

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