Why Doesn't My Cat Like Kids?
Children tend to love cats. So, it can be disappointing when your cat is not a big fan of the children in your life. Cats react to children in many ways. Some cats love playing with children, but many become overwhelmed by them.
Cats are very sensitive to changes in their environment. Things that we may not even notice or pay attention to can be very stressful to a cat. Different smells, changes in routine, and loud noises can send your cat into a panic. Unfortunately, children tend to be very loud and erratic in their movements.
Depending on the age of the child and the confidence level of your cat, sometimes the cat may allow the child to interact with them. Rough handling or even just handling in a way that your cat isn’t used to can be too much.
When a cat becomes stressed, they may react in ways to increase distance between themselves and whatever is scaring them. Some cats will run away and hide, while others stand their ground and hiss, swat, and scratch.
WHAT TO DO
If your cat is completely overwhelmed by the children and are trying to escape and hide, allow your cat to do so. Once they are in this state, it does more harm than good to force them to interact. Be your cat’s guardian and do not let the children look for your cat.
If your cat is willing to interact but becomes overwhelmed by rough handling, then encourage the children to play with a string toy. The toy gives some distance from the children but offers a way for them to interact. Playing can make the cat feel more comfortable and have positive interactions with children. If you notice that your cat is finished with the game and is trying to leave, then allow the cat to go to a place where they won’t be bothered by the children.
Another option is to teach your cat tricks. When they perform in front of the children it can reduce their need for touching to interact with the cat and boost the cat’s confidence around the children.
Enforce that once the cat leaves, the children are not allowed to follow. This will help your cat trust you and maintain their willingness to interact. If the cat is bombarded after the game is over, they may not be as likely to interact in the future.
CHILDREN THAT LIVE WITH THE CAT
Management is key when living with animals and children. It is important to teach children how to properly handle and play with cats, but it isn’t always possible to constantly teach.
It’s important to have high areas where the cat can go that the children cannot reach.
There should be off limit areas of the home that children are not allowed to bother the cat in. Some of these areas include the high spots, around the food and water dish, and the litter box. The cat should be able to access their basic needs without fear of being harassed. If these areas are not monitored, the cat may resort to soiling in locations other than the litter box or not get enough water.
Encourage children to interact with the cat through play with a string toy or other type of toy that doesn’t involve direct contact with the cat.
Enforce that when the cat wants to disengage from the children that it can do so. Defensive cats may hiss, swat, or scratch which isn’t beneficial for either.
Depending on the age of the child, it may be beneficial to have them teach the cat tricks, maybe with your help. This will give each of them an activity to work on together to strengthen the bond.
Crafts are a great idea to get your kids involved in your cat's life! You can make DIY cat toys and even paint or modify boxes for the cat to play in.