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My cat just attacked my toddler

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I have NO idea where to put this but I'm sure there must be loads of you with pets. We got our cat three weeks ago from a shelter, Ragdoll/Siamese. Very mellow, neutered male.

My 18mo. old loves him to bits and he's usually very good with both kids. I am teaching them to be gentle etc, but just turned around and Oscar was on hind legs with ears back mouth open, claws out etc. Jasmine was just standing there and I got him off her. He didn't hurt her at all and it looked worse than is was. Should I let them all learn not to bug him too much( I have a feeling she was annoying him)

I grew up with outdoor cats who didn't really come anywhere near us, this guy is indoor as we have foxes, coyotes etc in our back yard.

I'm probably overreacting, anyone else have pets go for the kids? This is ok right?
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Well since he is a new cat (new to the family anyway) it may be that he just isn't used to the kids fully yet. It's possible he just had had enough at that particular time and was letting her know it. He does need to learn that his reaction was not ok though. The children need to learn to leave him alone. My in laws have a small dog (yappy little thing that I don't particularly care for) she will tolerate the kids for awhile, then she snaps at them - the kids have learned what her cues are and when she is hitting her annoyance level (if that makes any sense) I don't think it is ok for any animal to lash out at a child, but I wouldn't toss him out just yet, he needs some time to adjust, but I would keep the little ones away for awhile if it were me.
I'd take it very seriously. Even if the cat is declawed, he'll still have very sharp back claws. These could do severe damage to your child's eyes. I'd monitor all interactions b/w the two and intervene whenever it looks like your toddler is being too rough/too loving in a grabbing type of way.

Originally Posted by lisa72
Should I let them all learn not to bug him too much( I have a feeling she was annoying him)
I'd be careful about relying on "natural consequences" to teach the kids not to bother the cat. It could escalate quickly and they could end up badly hurt. Also, it's not very respectful to the cat. Yes, he does have defenses, but they could hurt him as well. And, if his interactions with them teach him to be on constant alert and prone to preemptive attacks, and you decide to find him a new home, it will be much harder to find someone who wants a cat who responds with quick aggression.

On the other hand, I would try to be fairly understanding when the cat does defend himself. He's not using human thought processes, and all his instincts are telling him to fight back. If it starts moving into the cat beginning the interaction by attacking, then that's more of a problem.

Like a pp suggested, I'd stay very close when the kids and cat are together. Intervene as soon as you see trouble brewing. Point out to the kids when the cat is giving an early signal of needing to be left alone. Make sure he has somewhere to escape to that the kids can't go. (Oh, and for your own safety, be careful about trying to soothe the cat after he's gotten fed up with the kids. I've had it happen several times that ds starts to annoy the cat, I intervene and get him redirected, then I pet Gracie and tell her what a great cat she is for being so tolerant, and she swats at me because she just doesn't want anymore human contact at that point.
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I am telling them to leave him alone, he has been SO good, I'm not ready to give him the boot yet. I will keep a very close eye.

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We have 2 cats and a dog. My ds has learned to be gentle. It took constant reminding but it was worth it. The oldest kitty sleeps by ds. I'd keep an antibiotic type cream on hand b/c even small little play scratches are painful and can get infected easily. Love the name Oscar!
I just got a new kitten last week, and Julian is pretty rough with her (picking her up, not letting her go when she's trying to get away, etc). I try not to intervene too much, she hasn't gotten too irritated with him (hasn't growled, hissed, tried to scratch or bite him except in gentle kitten play), and I know she can run away if she wants to, but most of the time she's purring as he carries her around upside down. I remind him to be gentle with her and tell him when I think she deserves a break. She's the sweetest little kitty but I wouldn't be surprised if one day she's had enough and scratches his hand. If she did, I wouldn't get rid of her, I think it would teach him an important lesson. He knows to ask if he can pet a dog and walk up to it and let it sniff his hand, he can learn not to mess with kitty if she doesn't want him to.
It is a very good idea to teach your children to be very gentle and respectul of the cat AND to learn the cues when the cat is getting agitated. Some children are better at this than others. You can also train the cat to be gentle. We got a very loving shelter cat when my dd was about 2 (we picked him out because the cage was opened he walked right out and went over to my dd and rubbed up against her purring). The moment we let him out of the carrier at home, he reached up and scratched her. Yikes! I wanted to sent him right back! But we didn't and he (and another wild thing kitty we adopted at a later date) both learned to be gentle with the kids. Never hit a cat because this makes them mean. Talk gently to your cat and say things like gentle paws, gentle kitty and show the cat that you are willing to remove the children to protect the cat's space when necessary. Many, many cats have been hurt and abused. They will defend themselves when they feel threatened by a behavior that reminds them of being hurt in the past. But most cats can and do learn to be kind and gentle when treated with kindness. My two wild kitties now are very loving and gentle with my children (most of the time). If they swat the kids they actually keep thier claws in and don't really hurt anyone. However, I don't ever let other people's kids touch one of them -- she is just too unpredictable. there is a good book about cat behavior called Twisted Whiskers. Good luck!
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We have 5 cats and 1 toddler, and so far all has gone well. I think this is mostly because we have put up a series of gates that blocks off about half the house as a "safety zone" for the cats. When our dc and the cats do interact, we watch *very* closely, and try to reinforce over (and over and over) the need for him to be gentle.

Esp. with a new cat, it's important to make the cat feel safe (and giver her space ot be safe in) and introduce her gradually to the house.

BTW, a PP mentioned declawing. In addition to all the humane issues related to declawing, declawed cats often become more aggressive post-surgery and resort to biting instead. Declawing is not a solution.

I hope the situation calms down again. It is so wonderful to give a child the opportunity to grow up with companion animals.
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We havent de-clawed him...I wouldn't do that.

Thanks for all the input. It really helped. Both kids and cat are pretty mellow generally, I will just keep a closer eye. He has several spots to escape to so I think it should be ok.
We have two wonderful cats that were shocked and depressed when the baby came home. I used to sleep with and snuggle with one of them(Lyle) - not so after baby. He got very overweight and depressed and don't think he didn't make the connection -- Stella replaced him!

One day he was sleeping on the floor in her closet and (at 2 yrs) she walked in there and came right back out. She held out her hand and said "kiss it". I said, "did you hurt yourself?" and she said "No, Lyle bit me." But I never heard a thing - I was 4 ft away from the closet. Sneaky cat! I thought. But on further interrogation, she actually stepped on his tail. And he did not sink teeth in or even clamp. I made her show me what exactly he did.

That I would call a good lesson for her. But the situation described with cat on hind legs really would scare the heck out of me. I'm glad you got advice to keep them away from eachother and make sure kitty has plenty of up high places and ways to escape. They really need territory and may try to defend it.

But I would also be very careful about getting rid of a pet because of their behavior. Does anyone else think this might scare a toddler? Might make them fear that they will disappear someday!
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We have 3 cats and a toddler. She's pretty good with them. I've had 2 of the cats for over 10 years and 1 for a year longer than dd. We knew their personalities so were sort of ready for what might happen. One who is high maintenance dh now spends quality alone time with apart from other cats and toddler to help her feel ok. The youngest is still waiting for dd to figure out how to play with a cat. DD will throw things for him and then run after them if he tries to chase them. One day I think they'll be great together but we watch her closely when she's near him b/c he still doesn't know his own strength. The oldest cat surprised us though. We really thought she would be the most upset by the baby but she's the most patient with her and will let her play with her tail and learn to pet her. We remove either dd or the cat when dd gets to exuberant, whichever is easiest and praise the cat for her patience. So far no scratches just a couple of warning growls which were merited so no chastising the cat doing them. I would only consider getting rid of one of them if they started doing things unprovoked. Otherwise I'd be working on dd to learn to be better around the cats and also try to head off situations that might turn bad. I just can't blame an animal for doing what's instinctual, that's not fair to them.
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After numerous patient attempts to teach DD (16 months) "gentle" with the cat, we have instituted a "No touch kitty" policy. Our cat has never hurt her, but he has scratched other kids in the past and is not the most tolerant of animals.

It was taking too much out of me to make sure I was always monitoring every interaction--she really could not be trusted not to get too excited and start pulling ears, tail, etc, and our cat only can be petted in certain ways without becoming defensive. It was too much to ask from all of us to teach her how to treat him at this age, and though it took a LOT of repetition to teach "no touch," it is a much simpler rule than "Be gentle, and don't approach him like that, and don't touch his paws, and..."

We will try again when she is twoish. I really feel this is the best option for the cat's safety and ours. I did not feel comfortable with "natural consequences" in this situation; cat bites can be nasty, and I don't want my kitty hurt, either.

I also think it's a good idea to teach toddlers great caution around all animals. My nieces have a cat who allows them to totally maul him, and now they think they can treat any cat that way. Yikes!
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I have four cats and a toddler. Two of them are completely lazebags. I can literally swing them over my shoulder and they'll lay there and purr. They have scratched DD only a few times, and only when she was REALLY going too far. They only did it as warnings. Not bad at all.

The other two rarely let her get close enough to touch them. Or they just move if she gets on top of them.

We always tell her to be gentle, but if she gets scratched we tell her that's what happens when you're NOT gentle. The cat has a right to defend itself. It's not HIS fault.
I would NEVER EVER declaw a cat for scratching my toddler. Never. That's inhumane and what example would that set for my children? They reacted with normal defenses to behavior that aggravated them, so we cut off their fingers!

Anyway. We do a LOT of hands-on, 'this is how you be gentle' talk, watch her with the cats and respect them.
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Originally Posted by kaydee
BTW, a PP mentioned declawing. In addition to all the humane issues related to declawing, declawed cats often become more aggressive post-surgery and resort to biting instead. Declawing is not a solution.

This is true! My stupid a** miserable brother and SIL declawed their cat. I begged them not to. Poor cat bled profusely after surgery. Then poor cat got put OUTSIDE. One day cat defends itself against neice (did I mention how miserable the whole family is??) and bites her face. (Trust me, I watched this kid abuse all her pets for years - it wasn't the cat) So the cat disappeared about a day later.
: Some people!

/end rant
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