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2.5 year old deliberately hurting cat

(12 Posts)
catstail Mon 24-Sep-12 08:43:38

My older toddler is hurting and scaring the cat on purpose. For example, chasing it to upset it, throwing things at it, pulling its legs etc.

We show him how to stroke nicely, which he can do. We show him how to sit down and call her which he does and enjoys.

It's two things really, how do I stop him from doing it - at present he has to sit in a corner on his own if he deliberately chases or throws things or doesnt stop as soon as I say. This is having no effect whatsoever.

More importantly to me (sorry cat) is WHY is he doing it? It is very worrying really. It isnt that hes a rough toddler who doesnt realise he is scaring it, it is very definitely deliberate.


AnitaBlake Mon 24-Sep-12 09:00:51

Its normal boundary pushing, he does it with and shows defiance etc., you've made another boundary for him so he's pushing it to see how far he can get away with it with you.

DSD did this a few times eight cats. I'm very much a let em sort it parenting type, the cat went for her eventually (my cats don't do aggression in the house, I won't tolerate it from anyone or thing in the house!), she was upset, but the cat didn't hurt her and after the second time she pulled his tail, she got such a shock, she's never done it again.

I'm sure DD will do it at some point too! FWIW I believe cats also know what is done accidentally, out of curiousity and out of malice and respond accordingly.

AnitaBlake Mon 24-Sep-12 09:12:08

I should add we always supervise them around the cats, but I think they need to interact with the properly too, neither of the girls has ever been hurt by the cats, and none of the cats have ever been hurt by the kids. They'll all work it out between them eventually.

Pascha Mon 24-Sep-12 09:19:47

I supervise to a certain extent, more for the poor cats' sake than anything. DS has been swiped precisely twice and both times it was his own fault for carrying on when he was warned not to and I physically remove baby or cat if necessary. I try to make sure the cats don't get overloaded by him and have a safe exit route if they need it but now its getting to the point where one of the pussies will sit next to him voluntarily for at least 45 seconds and allow some affectionate kissing hmm.

Its just all about saying NO when needed and reinforcing the issue.

over and over and over and over and...

catstail Mon 24-Sep-12 09:40:51

I wouldnt mind if the cat swiped him, the sooner the better really. But actually he is scaring her, so she is running away, and she cant swipe when he chucks things at her.

Pascha Mon 24-Sep-12 10:30:02

You need to stop the chucking things. The cat has a right to a reasonable peaceful life. Can you separate them for the majority of the time and only allow contact with you about? Our cats spend a large part of the day in non-toddler accessible areas or outside and much more time indoors in the evening when DS is in bed.

catstail Mon 24-Sep-12 14:02:56

absolutely i need to stop the chucking and cat has right not to fear harassment.

I do try to keep them apart but this does not in my mind solve the problem itself.

Any ideas about how I might try to manage my son when cat is around - to stop or reduce his anti-cat behaviour?

TiddlerCat Tue 25-Sep-12 09:55:13

Bad news - my 4.5yr old is still doing it. Also puzzled as he has never seen us chase or pull tails! I think, like most things, its the reaction they like. I use the naughty step/sit in your room if it gets too bad. Otherwise the cat usually runs faster than him... :-/

EdMcDunnough Tue 25-Sep-12 10:11:44

He is jealous. Did you get the cat after he was born, or before? Either way it is probably still just jealousy.

I wanted to give you hope - my elder son used to do this sort of thing. He was awful to our poor cat, who we got when he was about 1 1/2. He even painted her in gloss once (that was expensive - sedation and a lot of swarfega, apparently but she was Ok)

I was scared he was really evil, I didn't know what to think. I thought he;d grow up to be a psychopath.

However he is 9 now and wonderful with her - very gentle - she is still alive, she's now 13 (was 5ish when we got her) and better still, his little brother is 5 and has never been horrible to her at all.

Ds1 can be ruthless with ds2, which is another story but he's as far from psychopathic as you can get and so you have nothing to worry about.

Best thing is to distract him, also I think ours lashed out ONCE at ds1, which she never ever does whatever life throws at her, and that kind of made him sit up and respect her a bit more.

Keep them apart as far as you can and wait it out.

BertieBotts Tue 25-Sep-12 10:25:08

He's doing it because it's fun - he doesn't really have a concept that it's frightening or upsetting for the cat even though the cat is displaying obvious scared body language, they're only just beginning to develop empathy for other humans at that age and they have a tendency to project their own feelings on to others (e.g. I'm having fun so that means everyone around me is having fun because I can't conceive of any other feeling right now) Even my four year old has a hard time grasping that animals are living things like people and we can't just give them away or get a new one when we get bored of them.

Show him some fun things to do with the cat that he is allowed to do, like give him a ribbon on a stick for the cat to chase or one of those fishing rod toys with a catnip mouse on an elasticated string, or roll up little balls of silver foil and flick them around the room for the cat to chase or another light, soft ball - something which rolls very easily is best as the cat will lose grip on it and he'll be able to grab it back, not a good idea for him to be trying to grab toys straight out of the cat's claws.

I wouldn't use a time out sort of punishment if it's not working, give him these cat toys and tell him they're for him to play with the cat, show him how to do it and explain that if he isn't playing nicely, then the toys will go away and he'll have to go and do something else. Make sure you supervise him at all times and if the cat is getting stressed out, take the cat away, not him.

Does the cat have somewhere to go where she can't be reached by him at all? This is really important for them.

CalamityKate Tue 25-Sep-12 10:29:53

Maybe it's chase/prey drive? I mean dogs have it to varying degrees depending on breed, why not humans? We used to rely on hunting animals for food after all.

Not suggesting your DS is planning to actually eat the cat btw. Just musing.

catstail Tue 25-Sep-12 12:07:50

yes cat has several safe places to go which is good

it doesnt really seem like it is just fun and play, I sense that it is somehow deliberately unkind - but I do like the idea of trying to replace the hurting/scaring attempt with some exciting play toys

Jealous? Mmm, possible - he is 2.5 and the household "baby", we just got the cat and toddler was fine for around one week. Cat isnt a lapcat but it is very very affectionate and we coo about it!! Also the toddler gets a hard time from his own older brother sad

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