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Cat biting baby

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

I have an 11 month old kitten that I just recently started having problems with. She is usually a very loving cat, actually to a point that it gets a little annoying. LOL! I have three children 6, 4, and 17 months. She is also very good with them. However, she has recently stared biting my baby when he cries. It isn't every time he cries, but it is when he is very upset and close to shrieking. The first two times it happened, I was right there and pulled her off so she didn't leave a mark. Today, however, she came out of nowhere and bit his face she left a long scratch from the corner of his outer eye down. The other two times she went after his face too. This as happened three times in the last 2 weeks and I am getting very concerned. I was going to take her to a shelter right away, but decided to try and get some answers first. Before when he would get upset, she would go up to his face and sniff or lick him until he laughed again. I never worried that she would do this. BTW, she is not fixed yet. Any help you can give me I would appreciate! Thanks.
post #2 of 16
She's mothering him - just in cat language, not people language. She's teaching him to be quiet so predators won't get him. In the wild, they'd "hold" the kittens by the throat - but kitties have fur to protect them, and it's not the same as a bite. Your kitty isn't feral, so she's just being kind of a spaz about it.

But it's the squealing noise he makes when he's close to shrieking, which is why it doesn't happen every time. Someone else asked a similar question - but it was with a four year old who made that squealing noise when mom or dad was tickling her. They just made sure to have fun tickling when kitty wasn't around. I don't know what to suggest you do, because babies cry - I imagine that someone is there to attend to him, so it really shouldn't happen too often.

post #3 of 16
Getting her fixed might help. Kitties get hormonal too. And that will be one less thing to worry about.

My only suggestion is to keep a better eye on the two of them. If at all possible get to your baby before she does - or when you see her heading that way go "pssst! NO".
post #4 of 16
I can not express how important it is to have her spayed in this situation. High pitched cries, screams, whistles, often stimulates this type of behavior in un-spayed females. They are extremely sensitive to vocal levels, motions, and often react in a protective or defensive way. In the kitty world, this would be perfectly acceptable for the mom to run up to the kitten and mouth or knead to relax them. This is a hormonal, instinctual reaction that is subsided when spayed by reducing the hormonal drive.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your replies. The three times the biting happened, I was actually holding the baby. I will be getting her spayed this month, I was just waiting on our tax refund.
post #6 of 16
First GET her spayed - that will help. If she's coming into season, anything can set her off. She's frustrated as it is and the baby screaming isn't helping.

Also I would have a screen door to the baby's room and not allow her in there unless you are right there.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 
Okay, I have an appointment for her to be spayed on the 11th. I contacted a behavioral specialist and this is the email I got back. I told her exactly what I posted here.
You can try to desensitize her to the sound of your son crying. Here is a link to details on this process: (this is written for dog owners, but the process is the same). You would need to follow the recommendations for sound phobias and can combine them with the first outlined procedure, giving her treats when she behaves appropriately. However, the management required to prevent her from attempting to bite your son when not "training" is likely not realistic - she would need to live in one room and only have access to your son when you are desensitizing her. After all, you can't always keep your son from crying, and with three young children you may not have the time available for this process.

All that said, I do believe it is best if you find another home for her. She is still young and gets along with your other children, so she sounds like a good adoption candidate.

*I'm kind of surprised that she recommends getting rid of her. Right now, I'll get her spayed then go from there.
post #8 of 16
She's probably responding to the necessity of keeping the child from being hurt.

It seems clear that this cat can't be left alone in a room with the baby while the baby is young. So you just have to decide how you want to handle it. You could easily keep the cat out of the baby's room until the child is older, when the crying wouldn't be a problem, and along the way you can monitor the behavior and work to train the cat not to do it. Then you'll have an idea of whether they can live freely in the same home long-term.

And hopefully spaying will help.
post #9 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm curious what you guys might do in this situation.

Like I said it has only happened when he was hysterical and we were right next to him the three times. We have had her since she was six weeks and my son was 8 months, so it isn't like she has never heard him cry before. She has never attacked anyone before.
post #10 of 16
Personally, I think of my cats as part of the family. We adopted a daughter and one of our kitties stressed and started peeing outside of the box. Rather than find a new home for the cat, we worked with her for months, and finally got things straightened out.

If she were attacking and biting her, we probably would have tried to work that out too, unless it were frequent and vicious.

Having your kitty spayed will probably help in this situation. I would also purchase Feliway diffusers (or the spray) to use throughout the house. Some cats also respond to "Calm and Serene" or "Rescue Remedy" Flower Essences (available here:

Given that it is only a certain pitch she responds to and that it happens infrequently, I would definitely try all of the above before making a decision. I also imagine that when he's not in his room, an adult is close by. So I'd make sure she doesn't have access to his room by herself.

But that's me. Of course I understand your concern for your son - but I'd try to make it work first.

post #11 of 16
wow. this hits close to home, i just posted about this awhile ago. My siamese started biting me recently when i've been getting really upset (close to hysterical) and biting hard....I will read that article on sound sensitizing you posted.

FYI though, when cello did it he was violent and actually drew blood. Not a big deal for me but may be a bigger deal with a small child, especially since you can't really control when your baby is going to cry like that, but i can control when I will (sometimes )

In anycase, since your baby is never alone with your cat I assume, and this hysteria occurs when you are holding the baby just make sure you are in a different room from the cat.

But from my experience fixing the cat (although obviously needed) may not actually fix the problem.

Someone here told me it's becasue they may be able to sense the vulnerability of the thing crying which is why they attack...... I don't know though........
post #12 of 16
This is amazing...On another forum I read today about the president of a State Veterinary Medical Association telling the world that it's just fine and dandy to declaw cats because "we are using anaesthesia" and because shortly thereafter they "are able to use their feet normally". And now we have a behavioral specialist who, without even examining the cat, recommends some desensitization psychobabble in paragraph 1 and rehoming in paragraph 2. And these people are supposed to be advocates for animals? What am I missing?

Your situation is very serious, don't get me wrong. But I am glad that you are not going to do anything drastic --- like rehoming --- until you have had her spayed, and given her time to calm down as the hormones leave her body. It's great that you only have to wait another week for the procedure. Previous posters have given you sensible advice. It is that time of year for her to be in heat and she is probably going berserk --- at least internally --- because she can't do what instinct is telling her to do. It is highly, highly likely that she will be a very different cat post-spay --- and I mean that in a positive sense.

And LDG's first post hit the nail right on the head in terms of another reason why your cat is behaving this way.

Please let us know how things go. We want your entire family --- 2 and 4 legged --- to be happy and safe!
post #13 of 16
Chances are this behaviorist has worked with this situation before probably several times. As it is impossible to keep a baby from crying and the kitten is acting on the stress the baby has plus the noise the baby is making, the behaviorist believes (again based on HER own experiences with clients) that rehoming is the answer. At least she didn't tell you to get the cat declawed or the fangs filed down.

If baby has a blanket, start spraying the blanket with Feliway spray. It won't hurt the baby and keeping the blanket close and spraying it a few times a day will calm the kitty.

Also there is a CD out called The Harp of Hope. You can order this CD and when the baby starts to cry immediately begin playing the CD it will calm kitty and perhaps even the baby.

Getting her spayed will help as well if you contact you will find a local clinic that works with reduced rates for spays. LDG can likely hook you up with the direct link.

The behaviorist also knows that biting is a reaction an aggression factor that could get worse instead of better. The cat can get so stressed that the cat will get ill, or perhaps attack the baby, or someone else. I am sure all this is working in the head of the behaviorist when she suggested a possible rehoming issue. Not that I agree with her decision- but I do understand it.
post #14 of 16
You know, if you think about it, a momma cat will run to her babies and bite and grab at them if they start crying....especially if she is a few feet away from them. I have seen Boo run at my daughter and nip at her when she was small and having a hissy fit. I always thought it appeared to be a mothering instinct. Maybe after she's spayed, she will mellow out. Many that it works!!
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your responses. They are all very much appreciated! I was able to find a brand new low cost clinic right by me that I will be taking her too. I'll keep you all updated.
post #16 of 16
I'm glad she's getting spayed - it's in the best interest of her health, and will hopefully calm her down. In the meantime, if your baby is getting to that really unhappy scream, I would either stand up with him, or move to another room - stay away from your cat, or make sure your cat doesn't come near you if possible.

Maybe try spending some one on one time playing with your kitty as well?

You just want to make sure in the next week before the appointment, that your cat doesn't hurt your baby.

Thank you for not giving up on your kitty
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