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child and cat

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
My 3 year old daughter has always expressed interest in having a kitten. We recently moved into a 4 bedroom house and I have finally given in. I adopted a kitten and brought it home to surprise her. She seemed happy with the kitten……. At first.

The last few days have been tough. My daughter is now terrified of the kitten. You might say “she is scared and standoff -ish.†But this is true terror. She will NOT come out of her room if the cat is out of its bed area. If she does come out she steers way clear of the cat and if the cat makes the slightest move, towards her or away from her she scream and shakes in terror.

I have a dilemma. I do not want to get rid of the cat. I do not believe in “checking out†a cat for a week then returning it. But on the other hand I do not want to get rid of my daughter (that’s a joke).

Has anybody had a similar experience, where do I go from here?

Thanks in advance
post #2 of 10
Has your daughter been able to give you a clue as to why she is frigtened? Did she have a bad dream, see a movie with a cat - did the kitten do that kiettenish bite/scratch?
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
It is hard to get a good explanation as to why she is scared of the kitten. She just says "get away kitty" and if the cat looks at her or moves towards her (even if it is 30 feet away) she runs for cover (my daughter).

She calls the kitty "kitty, kitty, kitty" but when the cat moves she retreats to her tall chair out of the cats reach.

thanks for your help, keep the questions coming.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Now, thinking back, when the cat first arrived she did play with it. She had a wand with a string and she was shaking it around when she was laying on the ground. The cat, being a kitten, ran across her back to get the toy. The kitten did no harm physically, but may have been harmed psycologically.

That may be it, but how do I correct the issue. With time? I hate my daughter being locked in her room due to fear. If time will mend the wounds I will surely stick it out.
post #5 of 10
This is a tough one.
I have friends with a toddler who is somewhat afraid of my dog.
I don't blame him, my dog is 90 pounds and very hyper, but he loves kids.

What helps with little Drake is when I have him make the dog do behaviors for 'cookies' (milkbones).
He enjoys making the dog sit, lie down, speak (my dog says Scooby Doo), and shake.

Maybe you can get her to give the kitten treats, or have her help you feed or brush the kitty, letting her know that you will be right there and you will not let the kitty hurt her.

Really hard for me to suggest much, since you obviously can't have your daughter make the cat go through trained behaviors.
post #6 of 10
Do you have a friend with a big friendly cat? Maybe a more predictable animal will be better for your daughter to see that they are not so scary.

Also, talk for the kitty. For example, if the kitty runs towards your daughter, say, "Oh, my little girl who I love!" Or as kitty attacks her toys, "I am fierce and can fight a toy mouse!", then laugh with your daughter about that silly tiny baby who thinks she is big and strong!

And do try to get your daughter to tell you what is scary about the kitty. Maybe if it is a non-threatening conversation; like lets talk about what we like and don't like about our baby kitty. I like to feel her soft fur. I don't like the stinkies in the litterbox. I like her pretty green eyes. I don't like her picky claws. Then ask what your daughter likes or doesn't like.

Maybe if she goes shopping for toys for her new baby, or has an older friend over to play with kitten to show it is not so scary.

Good luck, I admire your commitment to this kitten!
post #7 of 10
i think all of those were REALLY good ideas. I think if you can keep your girl in the same room with the cat... she can be on the other side of the room , or in the chair that she feels ssafe in. then while she is watching you, play with the kitty, let the kittty attack you some, laugh and giggle, and like someone said talk like the kitty. Let the girl know by showing her the kitty isnt going to hurt her. Dont force her to play with the kitty, she will come on her own time.

Or while the kitty is sleeping ask your daughter if she would like to pet the kitty then.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your suggestions. All are great and it all seems a slow introduction or reintroduction is the key. I thought that was the correct or most sensible approach. I just wanted different points of views.

Thank you all.

Any more suggestions are appreciated.
post #9 of 10
*putting on my psychologist hat*

This is a fear that we often treat in children. Luckily it is very easy to reverse -- so, no need to find a new home for the kitten!

Just as the others said, the best thing to do is make a gradual reintroduction of the kitten to your daughter.

You might even begin by bringing home a cat stuffed animal and have your daughter play with the stuffed cat. While doing this you can ask her the questions mentioned before about what might be scary about the kitten and teach her the best way to handle a kitten.

Once you see that she knows how to handle the stuffed cat, bring the kitten to the far side of the room. Play with the kitten and make sure you look like you are having a wonderful time playing. Then bring the kitten closer and closer. Do this over several occasions during the day rather than "forcing" your daughter to touch the kitten on the first try.

Once your daughter is okay with having the kitten playing in the same room, bring the kitten to your daughter -- but you hold the kitten firmly with its head toward your body. Present the kitten's back to your daughter and let her (if she's ready) gently tough the kitten's back with one finger. Then let her use her hand to pet the kitten's back. Only when she is ready, turn the kitten around to let her pet the kitten's head.

Give your daughter lots of praise every time she makes a step closer to being comfortable with the kitten. Praise is an amazing reinforcer for children!

Because your daughter is so young and because this is a kitten, chances are good that she will get scratched at some point. So, it will be wise to teach her about scratching AND teach her never to play with the kitten with her hand. You might even want to get your daughter her very own toy that she can use to play with the kitten so that she is less likely to get scratched. If she learns to pet the kitten only when the kitten is calm and to use the toy when the kitten is energetic, she may have more positive experiences with your new little four-legged pal!

Good luck!
post #10 of 10
I have 2 cats and 2 kids . I got my cats when they were kitten and my youngest was 4. Before we got the cats we explained that cats are very energenic and like to scratch. We also monitered their interaction. We never had a problem. Could the kitten have scratched or hissed at your daughter and scared her? I would not give the kitten back, please don't because there are so many throw away cats out there. Second ask her what happened maybe the cat hissed and scared her. Third by some books for kids about books so your daughter can read(you can read to her) about cats and explain to her that your kitten right now is afraid of its new home because it is something new so he may act funny. He is also full of energy and will love to play buy him some toys and let her see him play. When she is ready she can throw a ball or toy mouse to him. There are cat teasers that she can hold and move around and the kitten can play with. I hope everything works out, my kids love our cats and they are part of our family I am sure your daughter will feel the same one day. Catlover.
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