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Cat & toddler :-(

(10 Posts)
SpanielFace Sun 05-Jan-14 18:39:42

We have a female cat who is 6, and has always been a bit antisocial with anyone other than me. She is ok with DH although not affectionate with him, tolerates our springer spaniel (but took some adjusting when she arrived), is really friendly and affectionate to me but prone to taking random swipes at DH, the dog and strangers and then running away. She's always been this way - she was 9 months and from a rescue centre when I got her.

DS is now a boisterous 16 month old. To begin with, she paid him no attention at all, but as he's got older she really doesn't like him anywhere near her. I'm attempting to teach him "gentle hands" and he is pretty good with the dog (who is very child-friendly and tolerant with him), but to be honest if he even approaches the cat, she runs away, and unfortunately he then thinks it's a game. I've tried just saying "no" and moving him away, which has worked in the past to teach him that some things are off limits (the fire, the Christmas tree etc) but with the cat, she runs away and of course he just squeals like it's a game, and goes straight back after her. He's never actually touched her, but he waves his hands at her and screeches, and predictably, she hates it. On three occasions she has now scratched him, before I've intervened in time - never seriously, and on the back of his hand only - but I'm frightened of him getting a more serious injury - I've been bitten by a cat before and know how nasty bites can be.

We have a biggish, 2 storey house, and her food, water and & litter tray are upstairs, in a child-proof areas, but she prefers to come and lie on the sofa in the living room, where we tend to be playing.

Does anyone have any advice on teaching him to treat her respectfully? I don't want him to be scared of cats, but he needs to learn not to to chase and grab! He's my first baby, and only been mobile for 4 months - and I feel like I'm floundering with discipline at the moment. He's too young to understand consequences, and too young for time-outs etc.

(I'm not prepared to rehome her - she was here before DH, never mind DS! - so please don't suggest that).

Any help would be much appreciated, and sorry for the long post!

RandomMess Sun 05-Jan-14 18:45:17

Hmmm although cat bites can be nasty he is far more likely to get a deep scratch.

I would try and intervene before he goes to touch her. I think my cats were sensible and stayed upstairs during the daytime and came downstairs when the dc went to bed for their human servants to pander to their attention seeking needs.

SpanielFace Sun 05-Jan-14 18:56:39

To be honest, that's what I assumed she would do - that's what she did when we first got our dog, until she realised that the dog was a big wuss! I do intervene - I think the fact he's only had 3 scratches is testament to that, he's pretty determined! - but is there anything else I can do? Is it worth just shutting her out the living room in the daytime? It would be tricky to do, but not impossible, but it feels unfair on her and doesn't teach him anything really.

SpanielFace Tue 07-Jan-14 21:06:29

Bumping - anyone?

JanePurdy Tue 07-Jan-14 21:11:35

what about a cat tree?

We got one when we got our cats, & although it is a hideous object that takes up far too much space, I have realised the massive bonus is that it gives the cats somewhere safe to go that the children can't reach while still being around the action.

strawberrypenguin Tue 07-Jan-14 21:14:20

I found repeated no's and moving DS away worked. Don't let him go back after her, pick him up and hold him for a minute. Your cat is doing the sensible thing and trying to remove herself from the situation give her chance to do it.
We told DS it made our cat sad when he screeched at her and chased which he understood pretty fast.
It does get better my DS is 2 and much more gentle with the cat now and the cat tolerates being petted by him. Getting DS to give her treats has helped too

HowAboutNo Tue 07-Jan-14 21:15:07

I think your best bet might be to shut the cat out, then let her come in for periods of time, where you can fully focus on the situation and be in control of it - for example 30 mins. For those 30 mins, they can interact and DS can be gently taught what is good and what is too much. That way, you're not constantly worrying and they still get to interact under your watchful eye!

HowAboutNo Tue 07-Jan-14 21:15:49

(And when DS is asleep, give the cat some extra sofa love!)

SpanielFace Tue 07-Jan-14 21:25:08

Thank you smile

JanePurdy, that looks fab but I don't think there would be room for it in the living room, with all the plastic tat that we seem to have collected at Christmas! hmm Thank you for the idea though.

HowAboutNo, that could work. I think that's just it - there is so much to focus on, and I do need to be able to clean/do laundry/cook tea and that's when the problems arise. Short periods might be better. I've been considering doing exactly that with the dog - as DS gets faster at walking, I need to be sure that all his interactions with the dog are closely monitored. Easier to shut a dog out with a stairgate, though. It's funny, when I was pregnant I was much more worried about the dog and how it would work and hardly even considers the poor cat.

Strawberrypenguin - saying no and removing from the situation eventually works, does it?! I sometimes feel like I'm getting nowhere with him! (And not just about this particular situation! sad)

SpanielFace Tue 07-Jan-14 21:36:45

Also, his general behaviour is very much worse when he is tired/hungry, and especially during that 4-5pm witching hour. I think I'll definitely shut her out then, as I am usually distracted & trying to cook and he is whingey and causing chaos!

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