Please Help - our toddler scares our kittycat babies - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 09-06-2013, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm trying not to cry as I write this, but I'm feeling very stressed and distraught about this and I need help.  We love and adore our near 18 month old Michelangelo.  He's our beautiful precious baby boy and we care about him very much and we love and care about and adore our 2 adult kittycats who have been an important part of our life for several years  now - they're both 8 years old - and I help bring them into the world.  We've been their parents since they were kittens.  Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do at the moment because my family is preparing for a big move from Santa Fe, NM to Oregon the 1st week of Oct. and we won't really be able to do anything about this problem until we move into a new place, but I'd like some helpful caring supportive advice for when we do move up there.  

 

Our baby is in an active crawling and walking stage and he's very playful and is curious about everything.  He's very much like a cat, it's very cute, but he crawls very fast toward our kitties and screams and the girl cat, who's very skittish and gets scared, and her brofur gets annoyed and ignores him and just walks away and they both hide.  I know this is just a phase and it's temporary, but it hurts and upsets me and they can't interact and play together yet.  I'm worried and scared that Mikey is going to continue being this way and he won't learn to be gentle and kind and caring and tender with our animals and other animals and his excitability will make it so no furry friends will want to be near him.   We feed him healthy organic dairy-free vegetarian food so his diet is non-violent.

 

 He's a very special wise Soul and I thought Indigo children intuitively know what's right and wrong, but is it still necessary to teach him and when would be a good time to teach him?  Is it too soon now?  Am I going to need to be patient and let the cats run and hide and stay away from home until hopefully Mikey grows out of this phase and calms down a little?  I love babies and children, but no offense Mommies, I'm not in love with the toddler phase.  He's driving me crazy and I'm not proud of saying that.  I hope Mommies are ok with my saying that.    I've read about and seen babies and very young children gently interacting with family cats and dogs with no problem, though I don't know what the ages were.  When will he grow out of this screaming for everything everywhere phase?  He also is very aggressive when he reaches out to pet them and I try to help him understand to be gentle and caring, but I get the feeling he doesn't understand and is still too young to understand and learn this.  I feel very sad and discouraged.  Thank you for listening.  Please help.


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#2 of 6 Old 09-06-2013, 07:23 PM
 
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He'll outgrow it. And the cats will adjust. Or they'll take a swipe at him and he'll learn to be gentle. Make sure the cats have an escape route to avoid him and keep showing him how to be gentle. He'll start to get it if you're consistent but he's incapable of understanding right now. That's really normal 18 month old behavior.

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#3 of 6 Old 09-06-2013, 08:59 PM
 
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I agree. Totally normal and he'll outgrow it. With my children, when they are babies and start to "pat" ie thump, the cat I hold their hands and stroke the cat gently with their hand and say "gentle pats. Gentle pats".

As they get older I offer more explanations about the right way to handle and care for animals. My 3yo is getting pretty good now after consistent education since about 6mo. But she still needs to be reminded to be gentle sometimes. She's not intentionally cruel she just gets a bit too exuberant sometimes and she can't read the cat's "had enough" signals yet either. Of course I also say to the cat "you can just walk away you know. There are a dozen places where she can't reach you!" Sometimes it's his own silly fault for not getting out of reach ;-)

And, I don't love the toddler stage either. I think most parents have a stage or two that they don't enjoy too much.

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#4 of 6 Old 09-06-2013, 09:07 PM
 
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Well put, rain face; I completely agree. Also, pets have different temperaments/personalities. Some adore kids and welcome the action and excitement while others prefer peace and quiet. We have two cats, both adopted rescues and one seeks my 2.5 year old out while the other always runs away. Your kitties have been in a quiet home for 6 years and this toddling loud creature is new to them. They may not ever be best buds and thats ok as long as they are not hurting each other.
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#5 of 6 Old 09-07-2013, 07:47 PM
 
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I agree with the others, and also recommend that you read a few good books about toddler development so that you know what behavior you can expect at which stages.  For example, an 18 month old is not capable of empathy, so he has no capacity to understand that what he's doing frightens or hurts the animals.  Genuine empathy usually shows up around 3 or so.  They also don't place value judgements on anything - things are only pleasurable or unpleasant, not right or wrong or good or bad.  At that age, consistent reminders coupled with redirection are appropriate - "We don't chase the cats, but let's go run outside (or whatever)."  Also whatever separation you can manage.  




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#6 of 6 Old 09-08-2013, 04:49 PM
 
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Yep, yep, yep, and yep :)  My 22mo is getting better but still has moments where she finds it fun to chase the kitties (because she watches the dogs do it).  She was a bit rough around 14mos with tail pulling.  One cat tolerates her roughness, the other runs.  Cats need vertical spaces to be happy so make sure they have a sturdy cat tree where they can retreat away and hide.  We've made our off limits to DD as are dog crates and while she occasionally tests me, she mostly knows to stay away.  Cats can scratch or bite when upset or cornered - they give plenty of warning just as dogs do.  It's important to realize that kids can't read animal body language any better than the parents raising them.  So if you aren't aware the subtleties of behavior, you can's pass that info along.  Ie, people make *sad* faces, my LO will point that out that they are sad, but has no idea yet what kind of face or body language to look for in our animals to determine this.  I'm an animal trainer so she'll learn them better than some kids, but it would be good to get a book on animal behavior to read up.  I don't know of any good cat body language studies, but if your LO is at all into dogs, Turid Rugaas has wonderful books and videos on dog body language with lots of pictures so makes for great kid reading seeing all the visuals!

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