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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need help with this situation...I feel so clueless as to what to do. My cat is 14 years old and hates (is scared of?) children. I got him when he was 6 months old and as long as he has been with me, no child has ever harmed him, so I don't know where this fear came from. He has never liked children and always would hiss and growl and go hide when a child would come to our home.

Since DS was born, the cat has kept his distance from awake DS, but has liked to snuggle up to sleeping DS. We thought he was going to tolerate DS. Wrong. Now DS is walking and wants so badly to make friends with the cat. We have successfully taught him how to be gentle. He will walk up to the cat and sit down next to him, reaching out his hand slowly to pet the cat. What's the cat's reaction to this? Before this week, he would just walk away, but suddenly, he's gotten more aggressive and has swiped his claws at DS and scratched his hands twice. A few minutes ago, he swiped DS across the face. I can't tolerate this and DS is being super gentle. I don't know what to do.

I feel like finding him a new home is the right thing to do, but everyone I know already has a pet and I really think kitty needs a home where it's just him and someone to love him...no pets or kids. He's also so old, that I fear that finding a decent home for him will not be easy.

What should I do? Any advice?
 

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I don't think you can rehome this cat. Nobody wants a geriatric cat with temperament problems.

I would encourage you to separate them. Our cat, for example, is pretty much always upstairs, and we babygate the stairs so I can control the movement of the kids and the dog. Others will shut the cat in a bedroom during the day. It's your responsbility to the cat (to keep him safe from what he perceives as a threat) and the kid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
We have tried putting the cat in the bedroom during the day and shutting the door, but that's not working. He has never tolerated there to be a closed door between me and him and will sit at the door, crying, and banging on the door until you let him out.

We tried gating a room to give him a space where he could go to get away from the baby but still be able to look out into the rest of the house and he treated the gate the same as treats a closed door.


Right now, we do have the cat in the bedroom with the door shut, but I don't feel that it's a great long term solution.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by thekimballs View Post
I don't think you can rehome this cat. Nobody wants a geriatric cat with temperament problems.

I would encourage you to separate them. Our cat, for example, is pretty much always upstairs, and we babygate the stairs so I can control the movement of the kids and the dog. Others will shut the cat in a bedroom during the day. It's your responsbility to the cat (to keep him safe from what he perceives as a threat) and the kid.



Oh, my son is just a few days older than yours and he is not allowed to handle the cats AT ALL. No touching, nothing. And, if I see him running towards one of them as if to touch/grab I have a noise which I make that tells the cat to "get out of there LOL" sort of a CHEE CHEE...

Children at this age can still be kind of jerky, rough and quick moving...even if they are gentle sometimes it can be a split second to make a mistake and hurt the cat. They also can grab and squeeze very quickly. Young children need to be completely supervised, and at very young ages kept away from cats/dogs.

Anyhow, I use that noise as well to get the cats to move off counters/whenever I need them to get out of the way. So they know what to do.

I think it was around 2 1/2-3 when I started to feel comfy with them petting them supervised.

To me, unless you find a family member or close friend, it's pretty unlikely to find a new home for the cat at that age/potential behavior problems.
 

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I don't know if this will help at all, but my son is now 3.5, and only just recently things have smoothed out between my child and my cat. I think things were at their worst when Sprogly was about a year and a half old, and then my cat stopped trying to drive him off, and simply ran away from him. Now they've become friends, and I think what's turned things around for them is that it's now Sprogly's job to feed her. We're being very consistent with it, and now the cat's decided that maybe he's not so bad after all.


For a while there, though, I tried to find another home for my cat, because she was standing her ground, being territorial with him, and scratching him. But she's hard to place, because she doesn't tolerate other cats. So since she has to be an only cat, there were no takers. Once she scratched his face, even though he wasn't doing anything to her, she just wanted him to go away. I really wanted to simply toss her out the door at that point!

One thing I had to do was to make it clear to her that Sprogly outranks her. So, whatever territory she was trying to defend by swiping at him she lost. I didn't punish her, I just moved her. I started only giving her lovin's when Sprogly was in the vicinity. I taught Sprogly to back off from her when she meowed, or gave him the look (i.e., to read her body language). It's taken a long time, and I've tried hard to be consistent.

Oh, and I clipped her claws, every week.

We started the feeding thing a while back, and that's what's tipped the scales for us. She's mellowed toward him, and he's become more empathetic toward her. That empathy thing takes a while to develop, too. Now they get along, and it's really cute. He still gets a scratch now and then, but he has to learn to respect her...she generally gives a warning, and he's now old enough to understand that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
No, I don't think finding him a new home is a real possibility. I think the only person to take him would be close family and all our family already has pets except for MIL (her cat died last week!) who is also my childcare, so that would not work. I really want to figure out ways to make this work....14 years is a long time to just turn him away.

We have tried seperating them by putting the cat in the bedroom and shutting the door. That didn't work...the cat just sits at the door and cries, bangs on the door, and scratches the carpet. We tried a baby gate, hoping that the cat would jump over it to go in and out of the room if he wanted. That did not work either....he treated it the same as a door. He has never done well if there was a closed door between me and him.

So my newest idea is to install a cat door into our bedroom door and perhaps also into our extra bedroom door and then keep those doors shut when DS is awake. That would give the cat somewhere to go to get away from DS. Another idea we had was to get one of those tall kitty condos to give the cat somewhere he could go up to get away from DS. I wonder how well that would work...

Beyond those ideas, I am at a loss as to how to keep them seperated. The cat follows me around a lot and wants to be in the same room with me and well, so does DS.
 

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I've been thinking of your situation. Do you have any tall perches/kitty trees in your home? If not, what about getting one or two or maybe even just installing a whole bunch of kitty shelving. I'm thinking if your cat has a place to escape to up high, he would be able to still keep an eye on your ds and maybe get a bit more used to him? Your kitty would also be able to watch and learn your ds mannerisms, sounds, etc and hopefully eventually start to feel more at ease with him.

Good luck!
 

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I don't think the cat wants an escape, I think he wants to drive the other "cat" away. He's not used to playing second fiddle. He needs to be gently reminded that it's not okay to scratch the child, that it will not give him the result that he wants. Maybe put out of the room when he does it, separated from you. At the same time, work with your son to stay back from the cat. Convincing Sprogly to lay off trying to make friends with the cat was half the battle.

When my cat was going through this, it took her a while to get it. (Actually she might not have gotten it, maybe Sprogly just got too big for her, and she started running away and avoiding him rather than being aggressive.)

Keeping his claws short will help to minimize damage. My vet told me there was a medication we could try to make my cat less territorial, but we didn't end up trying it. Trimming the claws made enough of a difference that I didn't need to go that route.
 

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I think giving him away would be cruel--yours is the only home he has known.

You will need to find a way to keep both your son and your cat safe.

We have 6 cats, none of whom want anything to do with our ds (who is 4). We have set up our house so that our cats have safe spaces, where they know ds will not be (our room, the laundry room). We also gated off their food area so they can eat in peace.

Small children are NOTHING like adults; it's not surprising to me that friendly animals are fearful of little kids. I think this often changes as the child gets older, provided he has been taught to be calm and gentle.

Good luck!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by ckberkey View Post
Maybe put the cat up on Freecycle? He does need a new home. If it were me I would even consider putting the cat down.
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I'd clip his claws first, and then try drugs, until the kid grew out of it. Putting the cat down would be far far down the decision tree for me.

Mind you, when my cat hooked her claw in my son's lip for no reason, I wanted to throw her out. But we found another way, and it's turned out ok.
 

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I think you have gotten some very good advice here. Most cats even at an old age are capable of learning given enough time. Stimpy (will be 13yo this april)and the kids both learned to leave each other alone. It did take a few scratches and bites but they get along fine now as long as they have there space when it is needed.

I just cant understand putting a healthy cat to sleep because of problems between the kids and the cat. Honestly I would treat this situation as sibblings and you certainly would never consider giving a kid away if they were fighting a lot
I know some people will say but they are just animals but to me my cat is as important to me as my children are, just in a slightly different way.

I hope that you can find a happy middle ground for all your little ones
 

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My cat was an only child for 5 years before dd was born. She has been pissed ever since. I really believe that a lot of it is jealousy. Dd is 4 now and the cat has mellowed towards her quite a bit. When dd was a toddler and would throw a tantrum, the cat would walk up to her, sit back, and smack her upside the head. She could not stand to hear dd scream. We called her "our little enforcer". The cat has plenty of places to go to get away from dd and will take off if dd gets too close to her.

I think that's just the way some cats are - especially if they spent a lot of time as your only. I don't think rehoming is something that you should do right now. I would just work on giving your cat a safe place to go to get away from the kiddo and try to keep the kiddo away from the kitty.

Good luck! About the time our cat started to get used to the kid, we brought a dog in. She's still pissed but she has made it very clear to the dog that she is the alpha!
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by livinzoo View Post
What about putting some soft paws on the cat. That way it he swat the babe it won't leave scratches.
Yes, that. Someone should get a medal for inventing those things.


FWIW, my older cats did learn to live with another person in the house-it just took a lot longer than it would with a younger animal. When now-dh moved in with me my old siamese lady peed on everything that smelled like him for months and would lie in wait for him in the bathroon to attack
 

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So, if we use "cat thinking" and that a new person in the house (baby; spouses; etc) is thought to be another "cat", would the same rules apply when adding another actual cat to the house? Separating, switching bedding, small visits, etc?
Does anyone think that would help in this case?

Or maybe just rolling your ds in catnip.
(soooo kidding!)
 

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Originally Posted by stormborn View Post
Yes, that. Someone should get a medal for inventing those things.

If only it were possible to get them on my cat. She'll tolerate clipping (barely), but there's no way I could get those little beads on her without sedating her.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks for all the great advice. I really am starting to think that maybe my cat is not normal at all. I've tried seperating them (as mentioned above) and the cat will just sit and cry and destroy the carpet at the door. I put his food and a comfy bed in the bathroom (no carpet to tear up), but he basically just sits at the door waiting for someone to walk in the near vicinity and then he reaches his paws under the door and cries. It's so pitiful.

I tried Soft Paws on him when he was much younger and he just sat around chewing on his nails until he chewed them all off.

I am so frustrated with this situation right now. DH doesn't want to install cat doors because he doesn't want to cut holes in the doors for something that the cat most likely will not use. I think he's right, unfortunately. The cat isn't really looking for a place to escape to....he wants to follow me around and have DS NOT be there.

As to having him put down, it has crossed my mind, but I just can't see myself walking into a vet's office with a perfectly healthy animal and asking them to kill him for me. That feels so barbaric.
 

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Can you have the vet trim his claws so that they're very blunt? This must be awful, because your son isn't provoking the cat at all, it's totally the cat's issue. Does he have high places to go to get away from your son, like a cat tree? Although it sounds more like jealousy than fear, so he might not WANT to get away.

As an absolute last resort, in your place I would think about declawing. I hate to even type those words -- I would normally NEVER recommend that, but it might be better than euthanizing an otherwise healthy animal that you love or seeing your son get hurt. Is that something you would be comfortable considering?

And sadly, I think it might be better to teach your son that the kitty is dangerous, like a hot stove or an electrical outlet, and to give him a wide berth so he doesn't get hurt.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Ambyrkatt View Post
Thanks for all the great advice. I really am starting to think that maybe my cat is not normal at all. I've tried seperating them (as mentioned above) and the cat will just sit and cry and destroy the carpet at the door. I put his food and a comfy bed in the bathroom (no carpet to tear up), but he basically just sits at the door waiting for someone to walk in the near vicinity and then he reaches his paws under the door and cries. It's so pitiful.

I tried Soft Paws on him when he was much younger and he just sat around chewing on his nails until he chewed them all off.

I am so frustrated with this situation right now. DH doesn't want to install cat doors because he doesn't want to cut holes in the doors for something that the cat most likely will not use. I think he's right, unfortunately. The cat isn't really looking for a place to escape to....he wants to follow me around and have DS NOT be there.

As to having him put down, it has crossed my mind, but I just can't see myself walking into a vet's office with a perfectly healthy animal and asking them to kill him for me. That feels so barbaric.
Well, I don't think any cat would like being kept in a small room. Is that what you are doing? We use baby gates to separate off a portion of the house that the cats can be in and not have our dc follow them. Also, they can have a (usually temporary) negative reaction to having their "stuff" (food, bed, etc. relocated). You may need to just give it time, but I think locking him in a room isn't a good idea. (Our cats got used to the cat door really quick, BTW-but if he's trying to be with you rather than to escape dc, that might not help.)

I think it's important to keep both your dc and cat safe and contented, but also to recognize that changing things up (say, by adding a person to the house!) may take a while for your cat to adjust to. Can you give it more time?

If you really feel that the situation is untenable and your choice is to either give your cat away or euthanize him, I personally think euthanasia would be the kinder choice. At his age, after having spent his whole life with you, re-homing him would be extremely traumatic, I would think.
 
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