Welcome to another edition of my off-topic weekend rambling!

There are many good resources out there about how to get your kids and pets to get along from people far more expert-y than me, and go into greater detail. However, let me tell you what I did from the very beginning.

We have one rule: A zero-tolerance policy for aggressive or bothersome behavior. From ANY PARTY.

What does that mean? It means the cat can’t get away with biting the kid. It also means that Twig isn’t allowed to pull ears or tail – or hit the cats. She is supposed to be NICE and will be given age-appropriate punishment (i.e. verbal warning, time out) if she is not. And the adults in the house have to lead by example. You can’t kick the cat or your kid will think that’s ok.

Folks, you can’t expect a cat, dog, or whatever you have to just sit there when the kid starts yanking on his ears. And even if YOUR pet is docile about it, you are doing your kid a great disservice by not nipping that behavior in the bud. The next time she goes up to the neighbor’s cat and yanks on his ear, what do you think is going to happen?

(Side note: obviously you should always ask the pet owner before letting your kid touch the pet – and teach your kid not to touch unless you, the parent, say it’s ok. Still, though, if your kid manhandles the docile pet after you give the go-ahead to touch, it may not be pretty.)

When she was too young to know better, she was also not mobile, so the cat could simply MOVE AWAY. Once she was mobile, she could understand “no.”

And you know what – zero tolerance for bad behavior worked. One of her first words was “nice.” As in, she would go up to the cat, gently pat the cat, look at me pointedly, and say “NICE”. Look at me, Mom, I’m being NICE to the cat just like you told me.

Sure, occasionally she forgets and pulls the cat’s tail. And sometimes the cat is irate enough to give her a smack (both parties are “punished” in that case). But in general, she is nice to the cats and the cats are nice to her.


[Off-topic] Pets and Kids — 5 Comments

  1. I have both a cat and a dog – but no babies. However I have a very little baby brother (6 months old now) and I can’t wait for him to meet my pets. I’m curious to see what kind of reaction we will get.

    Obviously, my pets are both very nice and would never hurt anyone. I just felt I needed to clarify that I’m not curious to see some all-out biting/scratching/pulling fight or anything *lol*

    Sadly my baby brother lives quite a distance away, but hopefully he’ll come visit this summer.

    Pets <3
    .-= Saga´s last blog ..Tauren Thoughts =-.

  2. Our Nomster is 13 months old and chases the cats with delight. She’ll follow them around the living room until they jump out of reach. She’ll try to pull ears if she can, but gets told no. The cat who doesn’t really like babies stays away. The cat who thinks she’s a dog comes and taunts the baby! It’s pretty funny.

    Dogs – well, they will let Nomster do whatever she wants. There’s a reason we got labs three years ago when we wanted a dog.

  3. Always good to have a zero tollerance policy on hurting people/ animals. My kid gets a warning, then time out after words. The cat is so passive she just takes it like its no big deal. If she gets frustrated she runs off. Only time she swipes at anyone is if shes in hunting mode and hiding under the furniture. then you better keep all feet, hands, or other body parts away from her area.

  4. I have no children in my household, but I do have a rescued lab mix that is just shy of 1 year old. We got him when he was 13 weeks old, and he was about to be put down. Unfortunately, he was also terribly sick, having bordatella (kind of like a really bad doggie cold), pneumonia, and some other sort of generalized infection (the doc was really really upset at the shelter for even letting this dog get this sick, he was literally on his deathbed).

    And…. It’s a chore with him. He definitely has behavioral issues. We know he remembers being in the pound, any loud barking from multiple dogs sets him into a panic mode. He is also very territorial and protective of his family. We took him to a doggie beach here in beautiful southern CA (Woot!), and any dog that came too close he started growling at/borderline attacking. Food is also an issue, we have to be careful with him eating at the same time/in the same dish as our other dog. So there are issues. And we would not ever have this dog around younglings.

    But all that being said, he is a wonderfully loving dog. Extremely affectionate. We just have to get some behavior issues dealt with. And things are coming along. We have got over his entrapment feelings (we couldn’t ever put him in a small confined space, he would flip out). He seems to be getting better with food, though he still has his cranky days.

    But he is a bit like Marley (from Marley & Me) to our family. He might be a pain in the rear, but we couldn’t imagine life without him at this point.