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Behavior of Kids to cats: what to do

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
My 3 girls (ages 11, 9, and 7) are just IN LOVE with the new cat and kitten. They have been here 3 weeks so far, and my kids will pick them up when they are walking to take them to that child's room, put the kitten on a "pillow" so he is "asleep in my room, so leave him alone", the two younger ones have even started (and believe me they are getting punished for it!) chasing the Cat! We have told them over and over that you don't pick up an eating/drinking cat, don't put the cat INTO or take the cat OUT OF the litter box, even IF you think they need to be, they have feet for a reason, so let them walk, we have even gone so far as to tell the kids not to touch the cats w/o our permission! I so don't mind the kids playing with them with balls/etc, in the morning or evening, but it's the rest of the day that is DRIVING ME NUTS!!!! I follow them around all day saying "put the cat down, leave the cat alone, put the cat back in the litter box" !!! I have put them in time out in their rooms for bothering the cats (if I hear a meow they are in trouble), I have spanked the kids (not the cats!), we have told them if they don't start settling down, we WILL give the cats away, because they are NOT being fair to them! I just don't know what else to do!!!! Oreo (momma) will sleep all day under my computer desk in the corner, or under my bed in my room IF the kids haven't closed my bedroom door!, so the kids can't bother her, and Merlin (baby) will join her, but then the kids start going under my desk! I take the cats into my room for a "nap" so they can have some peace, but when I crash, they sneak in and take the cats out and start playing with them! GRRRRRRRRR Is it just that we don't NEED cats, or will my kids settle down soon? We homeschool right now (until we move-by the end of 2007 we are predicting), so they won't get any relief when the kids go "back to school". Anyone have any ideas, or should we start looking for a new home for the cats? DH and I are getting way attached to them, so that will kill us!
post #2 of 9
Hmm, I don't know, this is the reason I hesitate to adopt cats to families with kids under 5-7 years, but by 11 and 9 at least, I would think your kids would listen to you a little better honestly. I don't know what to say but if your kids can't handle it and they are tormenting the cats, then maybe a new home is best for them. I have no kids so maybe someone else will have some suggestions to help your kids behave.

Maybe move this to the Cat Lounge since it is really about your kids and not your cats.
post #3 of 9
Just try to relax. I went through the same thing with my 5 and 7 year old daughters. My 5 year old in particular was constantly annoying the cat - not hurting him, -- just constantly trying to pick him up, hug him etc... I just kept telling her that the kitty will just run away from her all the time unless she treats him nicely (which means no picking him up and only petting him nicely on top of the head). My 7 year old just wants the cat to sit on her lap which he will never do -- so she gave up on him eventually.

Now that my cat is over a year old and a full 13lbs, I really don't worry so much. My younger child doesn't really try to pick him up because he is too big. However, he is a super nice cat but will only sleep under the bed or down in the basement to this day -- I think it is because he is afraid of being ambushed by them. They probably have made him more skittish than he would be otherwise.

One suggestion I can think of to help them relate to your cats without annoying the kitties -- have them give the cats treats. My cat get a treats (maybe 4 at a time) several times a day from my kids. He just stands in front of the cupboard where I keep them and they can feed him the treats whenever they want.

Anyhow, the novelty will wear off eventually. Please don't give your cats away.
post #4 of 9
You might try give them ‘good’ ways to interact with the cat like walking around the house trailing a piece of string, flashlights to shine on the floor, ect.
post #5 of 9
I do not mean to step on your toes as far as parenting skills go. Esp. since I have no kids.

My 2cents? Keep the cats away from the kids. The kids are allowed to interact with the cats when you are there so you can show the kids good ways to interact. Until "good touch" sinks in, kids aren't allowed alone with cats. Positive re-inforcement, sorta.

Could you create a "safe kitty place" outta the kids reach? Or a "no no" zone that the kids aren't allowed where the kitties are allowed?

I seriously wonder if the kids love the cats so much they always want the cats to be with them.....
post #6 of 9
A few suggestions.

1. Give each child a set amount of time to play with and have kitty to themselves in their room (say 1/2 hour). Then the cats get a break for 2 hrs with NO kids playing. Next child is given 1/2 hour of playtime, etc.

2. You have 3 kids and 2 cats - maybe adopt a 3rd cat so each has their own. IMO they are all old enough to be more responsible and listen to you. Are these the first pets?

3. Be sure to put the litter pan in a place that is OFF limits to the kids - - period or the cats will find other "safer" places to pee/poop!
post #7 of 9
Well my kids were raised around cats and dogs since they were babies so they have learned from the beginning how to behave around animals.

I would think at their ages they should listen to you and leave the cats alone at least for the most part.

Cats are unlike dogs and don't play when you might want them to play. They play when they mood strikes them but of course the kitten is more willing too at all times except when he sleeping.

Do they kids get upset when you tell them you are going to give them away to a new home if they do not leave the cats alone? Have you said this so often that the threat is no longer believed?

When you punish them for bothering the cats do they even care? do they get upset?

I have had to deal with other children coming into my home that do not know how to treat animals and the only thing that worked for me was to be firm with the child that they can not treat a pet that way and explained to them the correct way to handle or pet an animal. You have to explain why not just not to do it.

If I catch the child continuing to treat the animal badly, which has happened a few times, then I remove the animal and place them in a room where they will not be bothered. I know that does not seem fair to the animal but it is the best solution in the long run and safety of the child and the animal is the priority.

When you say they take the cats when you "crash" are you taking a nap or something and leaving the children to themselves and they come in and take the cats from your bedroom when you are sleeping? If that is the case can you install a saftely lock on you door so that it can only be opened a couple inches so they can call if they need you but not actually enter the room.

Maybe a chain lock would work.

Other than that I have no other suggestion other than to consider rehoming them. I know that is not fair to you or your husband but if your children continue to torment these cats then you are not going to have a pleasent pet anymore. These cats will become so fearful that they will not even be pets that you can enjoy. They will start hiding more and more and may begin showing behavioral issues such as aggression and soiling carpets and furniture since they are not left to some sort of solitude.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thank you everyone for all the advice! I have removed the cats to my room with the door closed if I see the kids bothering them too much. I have also tried to instill empathy in them "would you like to be petted when you are sleeping? Would you like to be picked up and put in someone's lap when you were walking somewhere?" And had a good talk with the 2 biggest offenders this am (big sister slept overnight at friends), and they are being a bit better, for the moment.

For the 2 younger ones, this is the first "furry" pet they have had- we also have 2 parakeets. So, I am thinking they are just Sooooo in love with them that they want them by THEM all the time (not another sister to have them! lol). I like the idea of giving them play time alone in their rooms throughout the day, and will try that today.

I know my kids are good kids and listen well, usually (everyone tells me how good they are!) but they can just be bull headed sometimes (stubborn like BOTH of their parents!). I guess I just need to train them just like I need to train the cats too! I will update next week and let you know how it is going!
post #9 of 9
Was mentioning this to hubby too. He also suggests that if you give them the "time" thing and they bother the cats during the "no touch time" then they will lose their allotted time slot when it comes up.

He also says that you MUST follow thru with your "threats" - otherwise you are lying to them and they won't listen. If you say you will take away their time if they don't listen, then do so. If you say that the cats will have to leave if things don't work out, then the cats leave.

And next time they want pets, they will think twice about care/listening, etc.
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