Kitten issue - advice needed :) - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 10-28-2009, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I feel like such a bad mommy for even posting this, so please be gentle.

We have a kitten named Kittypet; he's about 6 months old and have had him for about 3 months now, adopted from the animal shelter. He is really great and 90% of the time he is very gentle and a snugglebug. (He's kneading my lap as we speak!) I'm totally in love with him. When he does get rough, usually when he's ready for a nap, I either toss him in the backyard (he doesn't leave our small, totally fenced in yard) or I put him in his room for a bit and after a few minutes he calms down and rejoins us or falls asleep.

The problem is that on several occasions he has "attacked" our daughter who is 18 months old but small for her age. (He has never attacked our much bigger 2.5 year old son.) It's totally out of the blue, she'll be sitting there and he'll be sitting there and bam, he jumps on her. I don't think it's really an attack, more like really excited play, but he jumps on her head and hangs on. This happens if I am in the same room; I never leave them alone. I pull him off in about two seconds flat, but it's still really scary for my daughter - and me. She also often gets a tiny scratch from it, but that seems to be almost accidental. I'm not sure if it's play or half-play or what. And I don't know what to do. DH says that if this doesn't stop, the cat has to go because our daughter comes first. Obviously DD comes first, that's a given! But I also don't think DD is in any danger, though it's still unpleasant for all. I absolutely cannot have a cat terrorizing my baby girl, but other than this one thing he really is a perfect cat for our family and I would like to find out if there's another solution than re-homing him. We can't really keep them separated all of the time unless the cat is constantly locked up when she is awake, but I literally never leave them alone together. The "attacks" come about once every 2 weeks or so. She's never gotten really hurt from them.

Is DH right? Should I re-home the awesome little furry? Am I wronging DD by not having re-homed him already? Is my mama bear instinct just broken when it comes to cats or something? He's never actually hurt her on purpose. Or is there some other solution? I really want there to be another solution! I 100000% don't believe in de-clawing, and haven't had a single de-clawed cat in my life, but might it help in this case?

ETA: For what it's worth, DD is not scared of the cat normally. She loves him and so does DS. She just gets frightened when he jumps on her.

mama of DS(3) & DD(2)
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#2 of 14 Old 10-28-2009, 01:50 PM
 
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Is this an only cat? One of our cats, when we first had him, did this a few times to me and we figured out over a short time that he was lonely and got a second cat. We've had no recurrence of aggressive play behavior with any of us here (including the 3 year old). Making sure you've got some kind of kitty larger plaything and he gets enough active playtime might help, as might regular catnip.

From what I've read, declawing can lead to more behavior and medical problems. You'd be better off trimming nails more often. You could consider getting feliway or rescue remedy for pets if you think either would help the kitty relax and not get as worked up.
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#3 of 14 Old 10-28-2009, 01:57 PM
 
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Would getting a second cat be feasable? I say this because we have kittens about the same age and they do this type of thing to each other all the time - they often ambush each other and engage in pretty rowdy play. I think its pretty normal kitten behaviour - your cat may just see your children as eager playmates?
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#4 of 14 Old 10-29-2009, 03:46 AM
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Look into Soft Paws, a good alternative to de-clawing. Kittens are psychos sometimes. I wouldn't rehome either unless a cat was biting or doing something truly harmful, so if you're a bad mom, then I'd make a bad one too.
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#5 of 14 Old 10-29-2009, 10:54 AM
 
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Declawing actually can lead to more agressive behaviors, including biting. So, that's not an option that we'd suggest.

He sounds to me like he's getting overly excited...sort of like play agression. This may mild out with age a bit. Some of that has to do with personality.

If it were me, I'd watch the cats body language, and what is happening right before the attack. There is going to be something that sets him off.

I have a cat who can be 'set off' by in a way, he's the most outgoing, cuddliest guy out there, however if he gets excited past a point he'll get agressive (not dangerously, he's playing...but roughly!). He'll start swatting, grabbing ankles when you're walking, etc. He's playing like an overgrown kitten!

However, it rarely happens at all nowadays. As, I've watched him enough I can see his body language. When he gets like that I'll tell DH not to pet him or interact with him. Sometimes I'll make a noise to startle him (like clapping) and that will kind of send him out of it. But it is agressive play.

I too would be concerned about him jumping on the head, etc. I think he's interacting with her like she's another kitten though. He'll likely mellow a bit with age. Do you have any other cats, or is he an only cat. My two most outgoing personalities here, when are alone are much more uppity and on edge...when they're with other cats they're more mellow. So, that may be something that would help too.

My kids have never even been scratched by a cat, because I don't really let them handle them when they're young. Just recently my oldest daughters at nearly 7 and 8 y.o. are finally able to safely support our smallest cat. That kitty is our smallest, at about 6.5 pounds. I taught them how to safely carry her. She's so easy going, laid back and loves to be cuddled and carried. So, for that cat it would happen. My other two cats (which or really 'my cats' LOL as they think I'm their mom) are heavy--about 9.5 and 11.5 pounds and get squirmy if picked up after a while. So, they're likely never going to handle them as children.

Perpetually breastfeeding or pregnant ENFP mom to a lot of kids...wife to a midwestern nice guy...living in tropical paradise...pink cats and homebirths rock!

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#6 of 14 Old 10-29-2009, 11:00 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the advice guys. I didn't know declawing made them more aggressive (although I can see why, it would make me angry and feel defenseless too!). So we won't be looking into that.

Unfortunately it was a huge stretch for my DH to even think about letting me have one cat, I think he'd have a breakdown if I said I was going to get another. Although, personally I would love another one. Or two. Or three.

That's the funny thing, I can tell sometimes when the kitty is going to get rough with ME - playfully biting my wrist and all that and getting more and more excited. But I could find NO warning signs for when he jumps on DD. As I said, we've all been just sitting there, DD looking at a book, kitty half-napping on the couch... everyone still... no tail flicks, no bunched shoulders, nothing. Then, bam. No warning sign at all. He calmly gets up like he's going to go get a drink of water or something and as he's casually strolling by DD he pounces. It's just like he thought of it and decided to act. Totally weird...

mama of DS(3) & DD(2)
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#7 of 14 Old 10-29-2009, 11:39 AM
 
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I understand that your dh may not be interested in a second kitten in the house... Though I can tell you from first hand experience that having another feline around (after the introductory period, that is!) can really help out in situations like this!
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#8 of 14 Old 10-29-2009, 01:28 PM
 
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I had a cat do exactly that to my legs. He'd bite and hold on ALL the time and he was a 16 lb beast of a cat. Not fun! Then, we came by another stray, and the behavior completely stopped. Another cat solved the problem for us completely and my cat was a total monster with his playing rough before. We've since added a 3rd and he's really happy now! He has a female to cuddle with and a male to beat up. It works great!
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#9 of 14 Old 10-29-2009, 02:15 PM
 
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That's a tough situation! I agree that another cat would help--- but if that's not possible have you thought of disciplining the kitten so she knows what's good play and what's bad? We use a soft spray bottle on our cats when they "cross the line" and reward them when they're good. We actually don't have to do it anymore b/c they learned their lesson and hardly misbehave.

I hope you find a good answer!

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#10 of 14 Old 10-29-2009, 06:11 PM
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I've known many people with declawed cats (none had then declawed, got them already declawed), myself included. I've never observed anymore aggression in these cats than in ones with claws. Cats both with and without them have the potential to be aggressive. Cats don't have the ability humans do to sense that they are different than others of their species. This is projecting emotions humans would feel onto cats as to what they must feel. Think they're mad about the pain? Well, being spayed isn't a walk in the park either. Nor is any medical procedure or surgery needed to keep them alive. But they get over it. Why is being declawed the one thing they supposedly hold onto anger over forever? They don't.

Now don't mistake this as me advocating for everyone to rush out and get their cats declawed. There are cheaper ways that are easier for all involved to try first, and the colors of Soft Paws are pretty cute too!
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#11 of 14 Old 10-30-2009, 03:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Noelle C. View Post
[COLOR="DarkOrchid"]I've known many people with declawed cats (none had then declawed, got them already declawed), myself included. I've never observed anymore aggression in these cats than in ones with claws. Cats both with and without them have the potential to be aggressive. Cats don't have the ability humans do to sense that they are different than others of their species. This is projecting emotions humans would feel onto cats as to what they must feel. Think they're mad about the pain? Well, being spayed isn't a walk in the park either. Nor is any medical procedure or surgery needed to keep them alive. But they get over it. Why is being declawed the one thing they supposedly hold onto anger over forever? They don't.
I think you are misinterpreting what was written. It's not that declawed cats are 'more agressive', what I was writing was that if you declaw a cat, the cat which already has agressive tendencies will no longer have its first line of defense (scratching/clawing at someone, or another cat) and will be more prone to BITING. And, as a human, yes, I'd consider biting to be a bigger threat or 'more agressive'. I'd rather be swatted/deeply scratched by an agressive cat than bitten by one. If you read the reseach/information on declawing it's something that is seen. As well as the elimination problems that are associated with declawing. Either way, declawing is not an option that would really eliminate the cat pouncing on her child.

To me, it sounds mainly like this kitten is behaving with this child similar to what it would with a sibling kitten. It's too bad that your DH isn't interested in another, cats definitely are more mellow in groups.

Perpetually breastfeeding or pregnant ENFP mom to a lot of kids...wife to a midwestern nice guy...living in tropical paradise...pink cats and homebirths rock!

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#12 of 14 Old 10-30-2009, 03:17 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Noelle C. View Post
But they get over it. Why is being declawed the one thing they supposedly hold onto anger over forever? They don't.
As for projecting emotions--I definitely would agree that cats aren't going to harbor ill will, etc. They live in the moment. I think though that we must not look past the short and long term physical complications that can and do occur with declawing. Arthritis being one of them. Declawing does alter the physics of the cat's walk, and that cat is no longer applying force to it's joints in a biologically appropriate way. Which is why the AVMA even states that declawing should be considered only as a last resort, and why most other countries ban the procedure completely.

In cases long term where an animal may experience chronic pain it may be possible that it's temperment/personality/level of agression is compromised.

A friend of mine just discovered her cat had developed an auto immune disorder which as a complication had stomatitis. Well, after going in for a dental treatment/extractions her cat has literally had a personality turn around. It went from being a crabby and more isolated cat (that could become agressive when groomed) to being outwardly affectionate, more playful and having no issues during grooming.

Perpetually breastfeeding or pregnant ENFP mom to a lot of kids...wife to a midwestern nice guy...living in tropical paradise...pink cats and homebirths rock!

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#13 of 14 Old 10-31-2009, 02:59 AM
 
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I think this is perfectly normal behavior for cats. Your post actually made me giggle because it made me picture my cat doing the same thing to us. My children are 8 and 11, though, so it's not frightening for them.

Usually our cat will attack us when we are walking. He just jumps on our legs and tries to hold on. We really get a kick out of it though! One of my good friend's cat does the same thing... she will wait next to a doorway and as soon as my friend (or her hubby) walks through the doorway, the cat will attack their legs.

I'm sorry your daughter becomes frightened and that your husband is asking you to re-home him. I hope you find a solution for this as it's always heartbreaking to have to give away a family pet.

loveeyes.gif Loving homeschoolin' mama to CherryPie modifiedartist.gif and KiwiBoy eat.gif::: wife-y to my high school sweetheart partners.gif
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#14 of 14 Old 10-31-2009, 03:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by phatchristy View Post
it sounds mainly like this kitten is behaving with this child similar to what it would with a sibling kitten. It's too bad that your DH isn't interested in another, cats definitely are more mellow in groups.
I agree that a pair of cats (ideally that know each other already) are SO much easier than a single cat. We always adopt in pairs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mangopassion View Post
Usually our cat will attack us when we are walking. He just jumps on our legs and tries to hold on. We really get a kick out of it though! One of my good friend's cat does the same thing... she will wait next to a doorway and as soon as my friend (or her hubby) walks through the doorway, the cat will attack their legs.
That would NOT be something I could live with. That would completely freak me out...

I think the OP needs to make pouncing on her toddler dd's head a very undesirable thing for the cat. When they are both in the same room, I would have a squirt bottle of water in my hand and at the ready. If you squirt her as she is pouncing, I'd think she would be less likely to do it again.

But I think kittens (this is hindsight advice...) are for families without really young kids like the OPs. Getting a young but not kitten stage cat is better IMO. A year or two old is perfect I think.
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