to not want to put my cats out :(

(79 Posts)
macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:26:29

DD2 age 5 has a friend over for a play date, also 5. Both lovely little girls.
The friend however seems terrified of cats, not mentioned to me by her mum.
I have 2 cats, one old boy who is almost 15 and just sits his days out on his blanket on the back of the settee, he rarely moves. The other young boy about 2 but calm and sweet natured.
Friend would not budge from where she was sat terrified on the other settee. She is usually a lovely outgoing little girl.
So I've had to take them both downstairs where its cold with no people, they are both sociable cats and like to be near their people sad
Everytime someone open the door, the friend jumps terrified onto the sofa.
So I guess the cats are banished for the day, but cant help being a little annoyed and sad.
We did try lots of reassurance and trying to get her to pet them first with no luck.

Lucyellensmum95 Mon 01-Apr-13 13:31:59

Just put the cats out, they will hve a great time

That would really annoy me. What does the girl think the cats are going to do to her?

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:34:55

Who the cats or the children hmm
The children are playing lovely, the cats are not happy sad

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:36:11

Considering my old boy hadn't even acknowledged her existence, and was sleeping in his usual spot, I have no idea what she thought he was going to do.

Poor cats. sad Your old boy is in his 80s in human years.

StuntGirl Mon 01-Apr-13 13:37:11

Unless the cats are in distress I would put downstairs. It won't kill them.

You say the mum didn't mention her daughters fear, did you tell the other mum you had cats?

Nice of the Mum not to mention it. I would be texting her asking if there is a reason her DD is terrified of the cats.

MrsRajeshKoothrappali Mon 01-Apr-13 13:37:53

I wouldn't pander to her. If you put them out then she's being taught that cats are scarey and should be feared.

Let the cats wander about and let her get used to them.


That's how I feel MrsR but I have a feeling people will be along to say that is not the right thing to do.

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:40:30

The cats aren't distressed just not very happy. I did try to allow them to wander about (old boy doesn't really wander just sits) but poor child was actually distressed. So had to go with human distress trumps animal sadness!

OHforDUCKScake Mon 01-Apr-13 13:40:42

She's 5.

A very young scared girl.

They are cats.

Get some perspective.

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:41:43

Am annoyed though have just gone down to pet and give them a treat, old boy is looking very peeved with me, just like an old man in his 80's usurped from his favourite chair for a guest.

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:42:39

OH, yes I have prioritised a little girl who is a guest (obviously) but can't help being irritated. Is that BU?

Perhaps she has had some awful experience with cats. She wouldn't be like that for no reason surely? i would have thought most 5 year old girls would love a squeeze of a cat/furry small animal.

bishboschone Mon 01-Apr-13 13:43:15

I have 3 cats and have had dc over who are scared .. I just tell them to ignore the cats .. Screaming is ridiculous and I would tell child to shut up to be honest . ( not very helpful)

Perhaps the parents are very anti-pets and have told their DD they are awful and dirty/poo in the garden etc.

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:44:49

Ahh I feel a little mean, she wasn't screaming to be fair. Just curled up on the settee unwilling to budge if the cats were in the room. Asked her why or what she was scared of, she can't or won't say, will ask her mum when I drop her off.
Cats will survive.

dancemom Mon 01-Apr-13 13:47:29

My dd is 7 and VERY scared of pets

I always ask before she goes for a playdate if the family have any pets and make them aware she will not go if they do.

Maggie111 Mon 01-Apr-13 13:47:52

I have a cat and if someone isn't a fan he can be put in a room on his own for a while without bother. It's not like you're kicking them out of the house!

A whole day is a pain though.

CajaDeLaMemoria Mon 01-Apr-13 13:47:57

Would she be interested in stroking one of the cats on your lap? Or offering them a treat? Or helping make their dinner?

You might be able to involve her and lessen her fear. Start with your calmest cat, and get your daughter involved to make it exciting.

TSSDNCOP Mon 01-Apr-13 13:49:23

She is afraid of cats.

Swap "cat" for "tarantula" and I'd be a gibbering, twitching mess. In fact, I'd have refused the invite in the first place.

If you are scared of something, you're scared. Irrelevant what you're scared of.

Where did the fear come from dance? Genuine question-just interested. DS1 had a friend who was terrified, but his Mum didn't know where it started or why.

ChippingInIsEggceptional Mon 01-Apr-13 13:50:21

Can't you put the cats in your warmer bedroom or something - or bring the cats into the sitting room and sent the kids to play in the bedroom?

She needs to be around cats like your two to learn they wont hurt her though, so maybe it's something you need to rethink/discuss with her Mum if she comes again.

I wonder if she was attacked by a cat when walking past one or when petting one? But even so... CATS?

NynaevesSister Mon 01-Apr-13 13:50:47

Ah well, had a lad like that who freaked at anything furry - cats, rabbits, guinea pigs. No reason for it and his brother not the same. When he came over he would sob at the sight of the cat. I didn't push the cat out of the way but would pick him up and stroke him so the cat was happy but contained. After a few visits the boy got over it and was fine.

I see what you are saying TSS but it's fairly easy to avoid tarantulas. Cats are everywhere and a part of life really.

TSSDNCOP Mon 01-Apr-13 13:53:52

Well actually Sparkling I'm utterly terrified of all spiders, but I always get flamed for saying that blush.

My point is, and I agree with the prevalence of cats, if you're scared it's irrational. Heaps of cats just makes you more scared.

As I can attest during spider season. Conkers anyone?

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:54:56

Nope cant get her anywhere near them, and old boy is now crying outside the door sad He likes to be with the people. Because of the way house is set out, the only place to contain them is downstairs.
Won't even take her into the garage where DD1 keeps her snake and 2 bearded dragons grin

TSSDNCOP Mon 01-Apr-13 13:56:01

And I've been in hilarious situations where utter bastards caring folk have tried to cure me. Putting a spider on me or inviting me to those freaking creature kids parties just doesn't work.

TSSDNCOP Mon 01-Apr-13 13:57:06

<makes note to decline invite to Mcdoodles however good her homemade cake is>


I don't like spiders TSS, no flaming for that. I have got a bit better, but the huge ones bring me out in a sweat.

Spiders are horrible with their fat bodies and unnecessarily large amount of limbs. But Cats? Awww. Furry and cuddly and purry. grin

reluctantmover Mon 01-Apr-13 13:58:44

Poor girl. Put the cats somewhere out of the way and let your daughter play with her friend. Children and adults can have irrational fears, easily solved by moving the cats temporarily.

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 13:58:48

We don't have any spiders though! However, bizarrely, my new DP had a very large tarantula which he keeps in a glass cage in his LIVING ROOM! He says its because he was so spider phobic it was embaressing for a man in his 40's so he got a whopping great spider as a pet confused

My DD is scared (as in will step into a main road to avoid) of dogs. Not being bitten or knocked over by bouncy type dogs. She's scared of being breathed on.

She's fine with cats if she knows they are there and they don't try to leap out and surprise her.
Our cat used to slip through the bannisters and jump by my DD when she was a toddler just to wind her up.

My DD is now 11yo., she's getting more rational.
If someone decided to 'overcome' her fears by subjecting her to them (ie putting her in a room with the animal she's scared off) at the age of 5, I'd be angry
It's meant though that I had to ask before she went to a friends house "Do you have a dog" and decide from there.

Did the friend's mum ask you before about the cats?

Softlysoftly Mon 01-Apr-13 14:04:34

Actually cats do more damage than spiders as my sister with cat phobia points out.

DS1 is 13 and is very wary of dogs, but he has a reason for it. I suppose you would imagine all teenage boys to love dogs.

Ooh what sort of damage Softly?

TSS you do know that you're meant to put the conkers in the corners of the room where the spiders gather- not throw them and try to hit the spiders...?

<<scuttles away in a manner befitting an arachnid>> grin

Softlysoftly Mon 01-Apr-13 14:07:07

Oh and YAB a bit u.

But not as U as bish who would shout at someone else's child for a genuine fear!

Softlysoftly Mon 01-Apr-13 14:09:35

Sparkling scratching/biting as oppose to just kind of crawling at you.

We may have had a few discussions about this smile

Oh and they are hugely detrimental to the song bird population.

She really hates them. Loves the fact that at one point or another all her family has owned one!

This is for your sister Softly. grin

Aaaaawwwwwwwww Sparkling that's luffly.

dancemom Mon 01-Apr-13 14:17:35

I have no idea sparkling! She is afraid of all animals! She doesn't like them sniffing her??
I get so annoyed at people saying oh it won't hurt you or just give it a stoke or oh she is friendly - she is scared, that should be enough!
I have tried to encourage her with pets of friends etc but she is genuinely terrified! It doesn't help when she reads or hears stories such as the recent tragedy of that young girl being mauled by dogs!!
Anyway, no idea why but its a genuine fear and folk saying tell her to shut up or get over it is really unhelpful!

LadyVoldemort Mon 01-Apr-13 14:17:51

Poor wee girl, I'd just keep the cats down there, it's only for the day.

I don't see how forcing her in to a situation she's genuinely terrified of would help hmm

Softlysoftly Mon 01-Apr-13 14:18:55

Lol she'll fucking hate that

<<tootles off to email>>

countrykitten Mon 01-Apr-13 14:21:55

I get really annoyed with humans who are scared of animals - yes, even children as this has usually come from drippy parents - and I would no way move an elderly cat in this way. She has to get used to them and should be introduced gradually.


dance my DD was never placated by someone saying "He's friendly/He's more scared of you/ or worst :He'll lick you to death"

But weirdly enough, the stories in the Press about dog attacks don't make her afraid.
And the one dog type she gets excited to see is a chunky Staffordshire Bull Terrier.

Completely irrational. hmm

countrykitten Mon 01-Apr-13 14:23:20

And yes - before I am flamed in to next week - I am aware that I sound very U. But I'll cope with that. grin

usually come from drippy parents

Yeah, right.

You don't know. You cannot make such sweeping statements.
My DC1 is great with dogs so how does your Drippy Parent theory explain that , countrykitten hmm

Maryz Mon 01-Apr-13 14:29:13

dd has one friend who really doesn't like cats. Never has (apparently a cat slept on her face once when she was a baby, and she has never managed to get used to them).

To be fair, she never makes a big deal out of it, she just feels uncomfortable, so when she is here I leave the cats out.

But the funny thing is, if the cats get in, they make straight for her, and try to sit on her knee, every time. It's almost funny. One of ours is very un-cuddly, never sits on people's knees, but goes straight to her every time she is here.

It'll be interesting to see what your dd's friend's mum says - she should have told you.

ilovesooty Mon 01-Apr-13 14:29:16

I wouldn't have moved the cats and distressed them either(particularly an elderly cat) , but the mother did the child a disservice in not checking this out before allowing her daughter to come.

movingonandup Mon 01-Apr-13 14:31:13

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ilovesooty Mon 01-Apr-13 14:37:33

I suspect the little girl is feeling very vulnerable even with the cats removed from her sight. I think I'd be contacting her mother and asking her if she thinks her daughter ought to be collected.

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 14:42:46

oh no I can't do that, the girls have so been looking forward to this. And the mum has gone to visit her mother in ITU in hospital about 45mins away.
I have decamped with my laptop downstairs to do some work, in my poncho with a blanket and a heater, to keep my cats company as the girls are playing so nicely upstairs. Old boy is slightly pacified sat on a blanket next to me. Not sure I'm completely forgiven though.

Maggie111 Mon 01-Apr-13 14:43:25


Sorry to hear about your daughter's phobia sad I have a dog and go on dog forums and thought I'd suggest you contact Pets as Therapy charity after the CBT course -

They are likely to have a trained, calm dog who will be good to introduce your daughter to. They go to local libraries and hospitals etc and are perfectly placid around all sorts of people. Perhaps someone local might be able to meet your daughter - after she's had some treatment of course smile

JazzDalek Mon 01-Apr-13 14:45:07

this has usually come from drippy parents

Sometimes, maybe, but not necessarily. My DD became terrified of cats when she was about three. Definitely didn't come from me as I love cats and we always stop for a stroke when we meet one in the street. I read something once about these fears children can develop, seemingly out of nowhere, in toddlerhood; it is to do with the brain developing awareness of potential threats, of possibilities, even when no prior experience informs such fears. In the case of the cat fear, a child with no previous bad experiences with cats can become aware that:
Cats have claws and teeth
Cats could hurt me
Cats are unpredictable
= seemingly irrational fear.
My DD got over it gradually and is now fine with cats (and dogs, which were a lesser fear for her).

movingonandup Mon 01-Apr-13 14:50:52

Thank you Maggie - Pets as Therapy have a link to the clinic my DD attends. She has met one lovely, old and very gentle dog. She looked at her from a distance (but in the same room!) and watched her eat a biscuit which sounds a small step but is a massive deal. It took weeks of therapy to get to that stage and we are very proud of her.

We are now able to visit parks with her for the first time ever. She used to scream the place down and just wasn't safe around dogs or roads.

That's why people are wrong when they think letting animals roam around a child who is very scared will help. Yes gradual introduction is the key but it must be VERY VERY gradual. Like looking at a picture of a cartoon cat then graduating to a photograph of a cat then graduating to an animated cat then to a video clip. Even those stages alone can go backwards and take weeks to build up to.

If a child is that scared of animals you can't cure them by starting off with a real life cat - you're scare the hell out them!

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 14:50:54

Sometimes people are scared of things. Put the cats in your bedroom and let your dd's friend have a nice time. People are more important than other animals.

Panzee Mon 01-Apr-13 14:52:29

Maryz I am allergic to cats. I try to stay away but they make a bee line for me and try to sit on me. Cats know. grin

KobayashiMaru Mon 01-Apr-13 14:54:45

Hmmm, small childs feelings (known) vs cats feelings (assumed by indulgent owner).

Seems pretty obvious to me YABU.

No, it's not a parenting issue. My DD (5) is terrified of cats. A cat got in to her pram when she was little, and it scared her so much she has never got over it. Its now extended to dogs. We've spent ages with her, gradually introducing her to family pets, and she's ok with some now. But overall she's terrified of them. I always check before play dates, and most people are fine with putting the cat outside. If they are not ok with that then DD doesn't go there - I'm not going to force her to face up to something that scares her just to make a cat (or its owner) happy. She will get over it in her own time, with our support.

dancemom Mon 01-Apr-13 15:09:05

Drippy parents??

I'm pretty sure I'm not "drippy" and as I happen to be a big fan of animals I'm sure her fear doesn't come from me. As pp said I'm always the one petting passing animals while dd practically vaults the nearest wall to get away!

seeker Mon 01-Apr-13 15:10:32

Can't bear this "drippy parents" stuff. People don't actually have to like animals, you know - it's not compulsory! And 5 year olds are allowed to be frightened of things.

macdoodle Mon 01-Apr-13 15:20:43

Seeker, you're right. And while I adore my cats especially my old boy, I am not a massive fan of animals generally.
My DD1 though is animal potty, and determined to be (depending on the day), a vet/marine biologist/zoologist etc . And we have had numerous varieties of animals from cats and dogs, to small furry creatures (no good, they poo and wee a lot and are very atopic), to the current fad of reptiles!
I do think its good for them though, and was surprised as this little girl is quite a lovely outgoing little girl and this seems so out of character for her.
Me and the cats are happy downstairs now and the girls are playing happily upstairs.

I am not a drippy parent, DS1's fear of dogs is because he saw a dog bite me when he was a toddler. sad

tigerdriverII Mon 01-Apr-13 21:48:11

I'd put the kids outside and let the cats stay where they are. A bit of cold weather never hurt a child.

seeker Tue 02-Apr-13 00:27:04

"I'd put the kids outside and let the cats stay where they are. A bit of cold weather never hurt a child."

I do hope you're joking.

TheCraicDealer Tue 02-Apr-13 01:01:37

I have a fear of birds. My parents are by no means "drippy" and I got constant abuse from them over my reluctance to eat outside with small birds pecking around my feet * shudder * If at the age of five I had been put into a room with a pigeon and told to go over and stroke it I think I would probably have had some sort of hyperventilating semi-psychotic episode. Even today I can't stand being near them, although I know rationally it's not going to hurt me. That's the thing about phobias, they're by their very nature irrational. So previous posters thinking that having her stroke the cat once will somehow "cure" her without therapy is ridiculous.

Aside from that, this kid has a granny in ITU. There's probably a lot of stress in that household right now. So the child's comfort should be put first for the few hours she's in the house, as a guest.

aldiwhore Tue 02-Apr-13 01:07:03

My cat is 18 and still does a lot of killing, she's out the door and being a cat without a scared child's fear conjuring up an AIBU.

macdoodle for the record I don't think YABU to feel a bit guilty at the break in routine, and think that I'd prefer to have a child in my care who was happy and content and a slightly miffed pair of cats (who will forgive you, you FEED them don't you? Then they will forgive you... well they feel like it) than a terrified child and two slightly miffed cats that there's a small person who doesn't like them in their house.

As for the posters who 'hate drippy parents' I could say the same about drippy animal owners, but I won't because it's a stupid stupid argument. It is actually okay to have a fear of something, and it is actually absolutely fine to not force a child to face that fear if it can be avoided.

Sounds like you've made a compromise that suits all macdoodle although I am slightly giggling that you're dotty enough to sit in the cold with your cats, but because is daft and sweet, and your choice.

DreamingOfTheMaldives Tue 02-Apr-13 08:08:06

I think it's dreadful of posters to suggest the girl should have to get on with it and should just get used to the cats in the room with her. It may be irrational, fears normally are but the poor girl is frightened.

If your child was scared of the monsters under the bed at night would you shove him under the bed in the dark?! No, of course you wouldn't, you'd so everything possible to ensure he could sleep without being afraid.

I'm terrified of spiders and cannot sit in a room with one wandering around. Just because the girl is scared of a family pet doesn't mean she should be forced to face her fears so suddenly. It's one thing to ask her if she wants to stroke the cat and to give positive encouragement but quite another to just force her into a frightening situation.

OP, you are definitely doing the decent thing. My dog would look at me in disgust for leaving him in another room when guests were round but if a guest was so scared of him then it has to be done. Just be sure to give them plenty of treats later to appease your guilt

RedHelenB Tue 02-Apr-13 08:22:51

I am a cat lover & my ds is upset cos our cat runs away from him BUT if friends come round scared of cats I shut them away! Just as I would stop a human from chasing after & annoying a cat if they didn't want to be stroked. cats are made for the putside, they're animals & a bit of time away from their favourite chair won't hurt them!!

raspberryroop Tue 02-Apr-13 08:26:56

mmm immersion therapy on a 5 year old when you have NO idea why she is terrified or WTF you are doing - got to hate MN sometimes.

sheeplikessleep Tue 02-Apr-13 08:33:31

My Ds1 had a Fear of dogs, after a huge young German shepherd bigger than him, ran past and knocked him over.

We've gradually exposed him to more docile, calmer, less interested dogs as times gone on and he now likes some dogs. He certainly isnt point blank nervous of scared of them now, just a bit reluctant of some he doesnt know. He still doesn't like his aunties German shepherd though (to be honest, is 6ft when stood on his back legs and has never been trained, I don't like him).

If my son had unknowingly gone to a house with a dog, I would hope the mum or dad would keep the pet separate and then talk to me afterwards about possibly playing somewhere else, in a nice way.

Your cats will be fine, I'm sure.

stressyBessy22 Tue 02-Apr-13 08:37:56

she is your guest.You cannot let her be terrified all day for the sake of a bloody cat!! And I speak as a cat owner!
You can do managed 'de-sensitising' IF that is what she wants, otherwise you respect your young guest.

TheNebulousBoojum Tue 02-Apr-13 08:48:27

Fair enough though, she's scared so move the cats. It's only for a few hours, and you could make downstairs warmer for them. Cats are often pissed off when the universe is not how they want it. smile
You could ask the girl's mother if there is any way you could help her try to get over the fear.
Why not see if she prefers your reptiles, in the aquariums?

Emilythornesbff Tue 02-Apr-13 11:16:17

She has a phobia (severe IRRATIONAL fear).
Stunned that some people would suggest this child is being silly and pandered to but a cat can't reasonably be expected to be excluded for the duration of her visit.

Put the cats out.

macdoodle Tue 02-Apr-13 19:46:17

Gosh am surprised this is still going on. Of course I put the cats out, little girl more important obviously, much as I love my cats (yes I will be that mad old cat lady grin).
Certainly didn't try to force them on her. After a few episodes where they crept in every time the door was opened, I locked them properly out. They survived but definitely sulked when finally let back in.
Her mum was so stressed when I dropped her back that I didn't have the heart to mention it, I will at a better time.
Thanks all.

Emilythornesbff Tue 02-Apr-13 20:00:07

macdoodle it sounds like you were very considerate.

YANBU not to want to but was definitely the right thing to do.

When very small I was terrified of dogs (again, no reason, just developed a fear from somewhere). It's horrible when some well meaning ignoramus belittles that fear and attempts to foist the object of it upon you. I have overcome the terror now, but it took a long time.

She needs to trust you (i.e. that you won't let the beasties come near her unless she requests it, unlike the 'oh but mine is different' school) before she can trust the cats. It may well be that, because you listened to her, she, over time, will be more inclined to listen to you when you explain your cats and the fact they won't attack her, or climb all over her. It could be a really good opportunity to help her overcome the fear, if she decides she wants to.

Maryz - try getting your DD's friend to actually look at the cats if they come in next time. One of the theories why cats always go for the person who likes them least is that such people try to ignore the cat, and cats like not being stared at, hence the reason they think they've found a fellow traveller and make a beeline for the poor unfortunate.

Sorry for essay, but I can really remember what it was like going through it and its so rare to find people who are sympathetic to same. (That'd be you BTW wink)

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