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Edited by rainbow_mandala - 11/16/12 at 4:16pm
I have an 11 yr old cat, and he never bothers the kids. He may have scratched once or twice MAYBE and only in defense...i dont let the boys abuse the cat obviously, but sometimes their idea of "playtime" isnt exactly what the cat would choose. He is SUPER tolerant, and that goes a long way...just his personality. We had another cat (had to PTS due to illness a couple years ago) and she was the opposite, she'd plop down, show her belly to get it rubbed, but it was just a trap to attack. Actually i think she usually was just playing but my son as a young toddler did get scratched sometimes...i figured that was a natural consequence to bugging the cat. He was never hurt.
You might consider contacting a rescue group and choosing a cat that has shown itself to be laid back, tolerant, sort of "kid proof"....they will usually know which ones are good for an active household with little ones, and which ones should be with adults. Keeping in mind that an indoor cat will likely live 15-20 years or longer, getting an "older" cat even three or four years old, instead of a more unpredictable kitten, would still give you a settled cat that still has a loooong time to live. Just an idea!
I have never had a problem with any cat sratching or biting my kids. It really does depend on the cat. In fact, our younger cat was adopted when I was pregnenat and spent much of her kittenhood with DD as a baby. They get along famously. Cats tend to ignore and hid when they want to get away from a situation, it takes more to provoke them - unless you sratch their bellies too much
I currently don't have any pets in the house unfortunately, however, I worked at a local animal shelter for a good while as a cat socializer and fostered for awhile, and I can tell you that cats definitely have vastly different personalities. I remember one in particular (Chester) who ended up being adopted to be a therapy animal visiting hospitalized patients (and I heard he was great at his job). He was an absolute doll. When I'd get him out of his cage, he'd throw his paws around my neck and nuzzle me endlessly. As an older cat, he was there for a long time before he found a home, but during that time, claws never came out even once. Chester was fantastic with kids. He wasn't as playful as a kitten of course, but he loved to cuddle. He just had a really loving, patient temperament. He was 10, though, and that seemed to really deter families from taking him in. I also dealt with Babyface who was a younger cat that I hardly wanted around me, much less a child. He was adorable and kids flocked to him, though I pretty quickly sent them elsewhere. He would purr and act oh so cute, roll over for a belly rub, he'd let you reach in and pet him, start to come climb up onto you, and then once you picked him up, he'd look at you with demonic glee and promptly attempt to shred you to bits. We were all pretty sure he was possessed.
It's really just a matter of finding a cat with a personality that suits your family. Again, they're all very different. I second checking with a rescue group. If it were me, I'd definitely go for an older cat so that you already know how he is, talk to whoever is caring for him, and spend some time with him to make sure it's a good fit. I used to put a lot of care into matchmaking and most of the people I worked with did as well. Hopefully you'll be able to find someone who really knows the cats and can point you towards who might be a good match for your family. Who knows. Maybe you'll find another Chester.
We have a very laid back cat that we got as a kitten. She rarely scratches and has only bit (gently) in rough play. My DD, now almost 3, has been scratched a few times due to being too rough with the cat--a natural consequence in my opinion. We have worked hard to teach DD how to interact and touch the cat (and our dogs), but as toddlers are sometimes things happen. When DD was little the cat was interested in her but didn't initiate any play unless DD did. Our cat has all of her claws (I don't agree with declawing) so she can use them if she wants/needs to, but she only does when it becomes necessary. I agree with PP that it does really depend on the cat so it would be a good idea to really see what a cat's personality is before getting one. We picked out cat out from a litter when she was a kitten, her personality was obvious from the beginning. Checking out shelter cats and cat rescues could also be a good way to go. Our cat is the breed Ragdoll and are suppose to be good with kids, dogs, etc--one of the reasons we got her.
if you teach your kids to respect the cat then there shouldnt be any issue. I also find it concerning that you already got rid of one cat, taking in an animal is a lifelong commitment IMO, and I wouldnt take in another cat unless you were prepared to have it for life. Your best bet for finding a cat that would fit into your family is going through a rescue and getting an adult, in which the rescue will know the temperment of the cat and whether it is good with children or not.
She didn't say she threw her cat away. For all you know, she rehomed the cat to a loving family. I have had animals all my life, and yet I've had to rehome an animal or two that weren't good fits for my family. If a couple has a dog that doesn't do well with children, and suddenly there's a death in the family that leaves a child needing a home, should the couple choose the dog over their niece?
OP, cats all have different personalities. Yes, even gentle ones will/can scratch when they play. The best way to avoid that is to use toys instead of hands as playthings. If you teach your cat that hands are toys, kitty will have no problem batting at your hands. That being said, my two children have been raised with many different cats and we've never had a problem. Our cats have always been shelter cats or strays; I don't support the breeding of cats.
You also have to protect the cat from the children, as sometimes little ones aren't gentle enough. It's not enough to teach the cat that hands aren't toys; you have to teach your children that animals aren't toys.
Very true. But declawed cats are more likely to be skittish, nervous, and bite because they have no other way to defend themselves. Maybe not the best mix for a house with children.
Kittens are adorable, but there is no way to predict what their temperment will be like as an adult. Just like people, you can sometimes get an idea but as they mature they may change their attitudes, whereas an adult cat is already set in their temperment and are unlikely to change their attitudes toward children (unless they are harassed).
2xy, if I had to take in a child with a dog that did not do well with a child I would make it work. I would exercise and spoil the crap out of my dog and keep it seperate from the child. It isnt really that hard to do, but it does take effort and most people wont go that extra mile.