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Cat scratches our children

(34 Posts)
mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 00:09:17

We adopted a two year old cat just over two weeks ago, she seemed to settle in straight away and wasn't bothered about our children making noise etc. We really like her, she's very playful and wants to spend time with us. But she has scratched both DC couple of times now. When she wants to play she stalks us and plays with our hands. This is not too much of an problem as we redirect her to toys.
The biggest problem we are having is that DC might be petting her and when she's had enough she scratches or tries to bite. I'm really struggling with this, I'm desperate for this to work but I don't want my children to be full of scratch marks constantly. She doesn't scratch or bite too hard but DD is getting upset over it.
Is there anything I can do or is this just doomed to fail? 😥

OP’s posts: |
Costacoffeeplease Mon 17-Sep-18 00:31:59

I would discourage the children from approaching the cat for now, and especially not trying to pick her up. Let her come to them and then tell them to play it cool.

Maybe get a fishing rod toy, if you haven’t already got one, so their hands are out of the way, but they can still play and interact with her

RomanyRoots Mon 17-Sep-18 00:46:35

Is there anything I can do shock
Yes, protect your children. Once is a mistake twice is unforgivable.
keep the cat away from the children

LostPlatypus Mon 17-Sep-18 02:17:04

Cats do tend to use their claws or mouth you if they get over-stimulated by being petted too much (how much is too much varies completely from cat to cat and isn't always the same each time either). So what your cat is doing is perfectly normal, although obviously something you still want to try to avoid.

There's lovely Litter Tray peeps with much more experience of this than me so I'm hoping one of them will be able to help you, but what I can suggest is getting your DC to pet your cat in small amounts so they don't get over-stimulated. Some cats also like the grooming gloves you can get (they're pretty cheap too) and perhaps using one of those might be a way for your DC to give your cat attention/care but avoid getting hurt. What I would try to explain to your DC is that it's your cat's way of saying that they've had enough and obviously it's not nice that the cat is hurting them but the cat doesn't mean to, and if you keep listening to the cat when they say they've had enough then they should learn to be more gentle about doing it - as you've only had them for two weeks they might not be fully sure that you will listen yet. I hope that makes sense.

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 17-Sep-18 06:49:09

They need to learn her signals that she's had enough. It might be a flick of her tail or she'll look over her shoulder to your hand. That's her que to stop now.

It's best to stick to three strokes on the head, avoid the base of the tail area.

theunsure Mon 17-Sep-18 06:56:26

Are you serious?!
It’s only been 2 weeks, it can take rescue cats years to settle anyway and getting used to children is a big ask.
Keep your children away from the cat, introduce petting and play gradually. Your children need to learn how to behave around the cat and learn the signals when to stoo.
Poor bloody cat sad
Are you really that clueless about cat behaviour?!

mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 09:09:53

Theunsure, no I'm not that clueless about cats. But when it comes to interaction between cats and children then yes, this is a new territory. We are not mistreating our cat so no need to feel sorry for her.
My priority is my children and I don't want them to get hurt. I'm not sure how do you suggest to keep the children away from the cat when the cat is following them around? This is a very social cat and I can't keep her separated from the family, she wants to be with us constantly.
She has plenty of hiding places in our house, she has a cat tree and also other areas where the children can't follow her. But most of the day she chooses not to go to those areas, instead wants to hang around with us.
She's a lovely cat and I was only asking for advice how to handle this situation. As I said I dont want my children to get hurt and I can't lock them in another room nor can I lock the cat away. Our cat comes to us for attention, wanting us to pet her and then when we do she sometimes scratches or bites us. It's not every time.
As I said I desperately want this to work!

I will tell my children not to pet the cat for now and only play with her. Thank you everyone for your advice.

OP’s posts: |
thecatneuterer Mon 17-Sep-18 09:44:01

Bit of a weird over reaction there from RomanyRoots. This is quite a common behaviour in cats. Some become overstimulated when petted and then bite/scratch. It's normally possible to read the body language with a bit of practice and to learn to stop petting before the biting/scratching.

I think you need to tell you children to only pet her for a very short time and then stop and yes, to avoid the base of the tail.

mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 10:05:55

I was just sat on the floor and our cat came to me running, started purring and asking to be petted so I did. She's there walking back and forth in front of me enjoying being petted, purring and licking my hands. Then she grabs my hand with both paws and bites me. Session over. Then she ran straight to my DD wanting to play with her. So I guess she was either saying enough petting or let's play.
I can handle it, not an issue. But DC are still young and it hurts.
As I said in my earlier post, this is a very social and playful cat, she wants a lot of interaction. It's hard not to pet her when she's clearly wanting to be petted.

OP’s posts: |
Costacoffeeplease Mon 17-Sep-18 11:07:23

Gentle biting is a sign of affection - unfortunately

mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 11:23:39

Yes she does the gentle biting or nibbling too but what I'm referring to is not that. Like earlier when she grabbed my hand her ears were pulled back and it wasn't gentle at all.
Well this morning I gave the kids some cat treats and they've been giving her some every time she lets them touch her and stop and ignore her if she tries to bite.

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YetAnotherSpartacus Mon 17-Sep-18 11:32:48

As a child, I just got used to being bitten and scratched. It was part of being a cat's best friend. But I do agree that as well as teaching your children that 'kitty likes distance and sometimes pets when she bloody asks for them and not otherwise it might be useful to teach your children some of the basics of cat behaviour.

mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 11:47:09

Spartacus, I have taught them. It's just that our cat comes to us for attention, wanting petting. I know the signs when to stop yet I still managed to get scratched, like today for example it was so fast. So it's even harder for the DC.

OP’s posts: |
YetAnotherSpartacus Mon 17-Sep-18 12:32:07

Oh dear - then you need to change the cat's behaviour ... I'm no expert here.

mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 12:47:44

Spartacus, this is why I'm so confused how to change it. She's the friendliest cat and comes to me or DC and is loving all the attention, even with DC. Then she's had enough and we get the claw lol. Whereas any other cats I've had in the past would walk away when they've had enough.

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YetAnotherSpartacus Mon 17-Sep-18 12:55:36

Maybe Fluffy's suggestion might work?

HiGunny Mon 17-Sep-18 13:01:43

She sounds very similar to the cat we adopted last January, also a 2 year old. He's very sociable and playful but had a habit of biting and scratching. Generally if he bit or scratched me I would stop petting or playing and walk away. It was harder with the children (age 3 and 5) but I taught them the warning signs - in our cat he flicks his tail - when he's had enough. They still ended up with some scratches but thankfully none too bad.
I found his behaviour calmed down a lot during the summer when he was outside more and burning off excess energy!

mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 13:15:28

Gunny, thanks. Well I contacted the charity where we got her from and they suggested a lot of things to try but they also mentioned that she might calm down once I let her out. They said I could try this week already but they're initial advice was to wait 4 weeks so I'm a bit worried to let her out yet. How long did you wait until you let your cat out first time?

OP’s posts: |
HiGunny Mon 17-Sep-18 13:39:44

We were advised to keep him in for 6 weeks so we did that. By the final week he was jumping and attacking us as we'd walk by and scratching furniture so in hindsight I could have let him out sooner. Once we started letting him out there was a massive difference in his behaviour. Hopefully it'll be the same for you!

Fluffycloudland77 Mon 17-Sep-18 13:52:38

Ours used to do ears back play. It's serious play, ie rough and tumble. It's fine on another cat because they have fur but we don't and claws really hurt.

If ours does it now I hold the scruff of his neck gently and he relaxes enough so I can extricate myself.

I taught him hand were play things when he was a kitten, it didn't hurt at 4 months, when he weighed 14lb it was a bit more challenging.

I kept ours in a month when we moved.

umpteennamechanges Mon 17-Sep-18 14:07:46

Two weeks is perfectly fine to let a cat out for the first time. Just keep an eye on her the first few times she goes out.

Also think about putting some used litter in the garden so if she needs to she can find her way back by smell.

umpteennamechanges Mon 17-Sep-18 14:09:13

PS: I'm a foster carer for a national cat charity and have fostered lots of cats plus had about 17 of my own. Honestly...two weeks is fine...

Get her used to coming back when you call her name and shake treats in a box, it will be useful for the future if you need her to come in...

mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 14:12:20

Thanks, I'll try letting her out tomorrow morning then! She comes when we call her and I've been clicker training her for recall so I'm hoping the clicker would work when out as well! I'm hoping going out would help.

OP’s posts: |
mummymermaid Mon 17-Sep-18 14:15:44

Fluffy, I think that's what happened with our cat, that she was possibly taught to play with hands when she was a kitten. And it's not really an issue for us adults but it is with DC.

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OlderThanAverageforMN Mon 17-Sep-18 14:24:35

Interested to hear about the base of the tail thing. My cats have always loved to be patted there, they go all besides themselves.

Other tip, try to get kitten used to having his nails clipped. We do ours every couple of weeks. Blunt nails don't hurt so much!

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