Help me oh wise internets

I’m in a bit of a parenting pickle.? My child.? Oh my child.? He needs a sibling so badly.? Or at least someone (besides me) to play with on a regular basis.? He now thinks our cats are his best mates.? Mates as in friends.? Dear lord I’ve been watching too much BBC America.

Anyway.? This child.? The child is always in the cats’ faces.? With the screaming and laughing.? They sit on the back or arm of the couch or chair and he will get right in their faces and scream or yell.? He hits the couch or chair right by their heads.? He pokes them with random objects.? He chases them around the house.? He throws things at them.? And these poor cats are as docile as can be.? In the time we’ve had the boy home Julius (our old crotchety cat) has scratched the boy twice.? He has smacked the child in the face multiple times (no claws out) and hissed at him a few times.? But Isis.? Fat little Isis.? This cat is so gentle.? She is so patient.? I have only ever seen her hiss at a child once.? But there were 3 three year olds and they had cornered her.? Isis takes the brunt of most of the boy’s abuse.? Seeing as Julius scratched the child an all.

What’s funny is that Isis is the smart one of the two.? However, Julius has taken to hiding from the child whereas fatty, she just sits there.

Tonight I witnessed the child throw a flashlight at the cat.? She didn’t do anything.? Then, we were folding laundry and we told the boy the laundry basket wasn’t a toy.? That’s when he got pissed and threw a cup right at the cat’s head.? No joke.? Right in front of us.? It hit her square in her little bean of a head.? She just stared at the child all, what the hell kid?

Normally, the logical consequence for harassing a cat would be a good scratch and that would be the end of it.? Problem is, my cats don’t scratch.? They just try to run away from the child which in turn causes the child to chase after them thinking it’s a game.? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told that child to stop harassing the cats.? Hundreds, even thousands.? Nothing works.? I’ve put him on a naughty chair.? I’ve taken away toys and privileges.? I’ve taken away bedtime stories.? Everything I can think of.? Nothing works.? Everyday is the same old thing.

So help me internets.? I need some creative parenting.? Short of grabbing a cat paw myself and giving the child a big ol’ swipe I don’t know what to do.? These poor cats are old and crusty.? They can’t take it anymore.

15 Comment

  1. Jenny2 says: Reply

    I got nothing about the cat problem, except to say… get a dog? Sorry, you know I don’t have kids. I really just wanted to say he is one seriously cute little guy.

  2. Tricia says: Reply

    In the spirit of positive reinforcement, have you tried rewarding your little guy for not harassing the cats?

    I’ve also heard of parents using a water bottle and squirting the child (not the cat / dog) when they do something bad.

    …Said the new mama of a dog-harassing child

  3. Lena says: Reply

    Don’t have cats or dogs, but I think, I can offer standing playdate for our 3-year-olds if we can co-ordinate our calendars a wee bit.

    Good luck!

  4. I used to babysit for a family that had an old black lab named Shamba. These kids would abuse Shamba. Jump on her, roll on her, pinch and prod her. It was awful. Shamba would just sit and take it all. Finally, the dog would look at you with these sad eyes that said “I’ve had enough. Can you help me out now, please?”

    I really don’t know. I’m still working with Slugger on the appropriate way to treat our dog. (He’s over-zealous with affection, inconsistent, and over-zealous with reprimanding the dog, too.) I’m having trouble managing that… and Slugger is 10.

  5. Oh I know this issue well. I’m not sure a sibling would solve the problem…my son, alone or otherwise, will abuse the cat. He’s gotten swiped across the face twice and slapped on top of the head a few times. He. Enjoys. It. I’ve divided the flat in two, giving the cat a safe place to be – which has been awesome for the kitty. I find myself throwing the cat in there to stop the insanity. But the cat always wants his territory back, so he always returns. Teaching my son how to feed the cat (treats and meals) has helped a teensy tiny bit, but abusing the animal is just a lot of fun. It’s fun to see the cat jump when a battery is thrown. My son is just intrugued by this 4-legged creature and even tries to eat the cat’s food while on all fours, face in the dish. I don’t have a solution, but know that I get it. It drives me completely insane and I’ve only been home 8 months.

  6. DebiP says: Reply

    yeah a sibling would give the cats two to run from…I think when ever and I mean ever the boy is not tormenting the cats reward him…toss him in the air tackle him and tickle something all the time saying how wonderful he is for leaving the kitty’s alone. I have your same issues…I need someone for G to play with…too bad we aren’t neighbors with our two Russian boys age 3 needing a pal…that would be sooooo cool but….good luck Elle…it is a tough road these boys

  7. I don’t know jack about cats, but this:

    Mates as in friends. Dear lord I?ve been watching too much BBC America.

    Made me snort tea out of my nose.

  8. I’ve got nothing. I spend all day long telling Sabrina to leave the dog alone. She stands on him, sits on him, throws books on him, pulls his ears/tail/nose, tries to stick things up his butt, pokes him in the eye, and just generally harasses him all day long. Thankfully he is very patient but I am so fearful that she will hurt him and he will bite her out of reflex.

  9. Lauri says: Reply

    I don’t know what to say.. my very skittish cat won’t come anywhere near Livi, wont even be in the same room as her, unless she is tethered in her booster seat, and Livi chases the cat to the basement, where she happily stays until bedtime.

    she has hissed & swiped Livi in the face, drawing blood.. still would not keep Livi from pestering her.

    I think our cat is wondering just how long this little visitor will be staying with us.. maybe one day they will be the best of friends.

    I second Tricia’s positive reinforcement idea

  10. kim says: Reply

    Do threats work with the boy? if so, you could tell him that if he cannot be kind to the felines, you will confine them to a room in the house and HE will not be allowed to be in their space, there fore can no longer fuss with them.

    We did this with our dog and son, and it worked. L was only 3 when we got Max and we needed to teach him respect for the animal. Max is now 95 lbs of yellow lab who lives to take kind instruction from our 7 year old son.

    I hope this helps.

  11. Carrie says: Reply

    The only thing I’ve found that worked with my kids was to model good pet etiquette each and Every. FRICKIN. Time. they tortured the animals. (We have 1 cat and 2 dogs) This meant catching the bad behavior in progress and then doing something along the lines of the following..

    “Oh no! We don’t hurt the kitty. Be gentle please.” then take the child’s hand and show them how to stroke the cat nicely. “Love the kitty. Nice Kitty.” After a while they got the idea and then I only had to say “Gentle, gentle please.”.

    Distraction worked great whenever they chased the animals. I would say something along the lines of “I see you feel like running. Why don’t we see how many times you can run around the loop.” (kitchen, dinning room, living room) Or, “Lets see how fast you can run to your bed room and back. I’ll time you!” or “I bet you can’t jump 100 times on the mini trampoline.” All these things needed minimum effort on my part…ie I could time them or count laps from my computer chair, but refocused their attention to something other than the animals.

    Mostly, it just took time for them to outgrow that phase!

  12. Tricia says: Reply

    The other thing we’ve been doing is giving Thani a ‘voice’ whenever Rita does something to bug him (she lays on him, holds his head, holds his mouth shut, tries to poke his eyes). We say something like “Thani says ouch” or “Ouch that hurts” (and the same in Russian) and then go over to her and simulate the action on her so she knows how it hurts the dog / is a nuisance. It’s helping alittle but she’s still fascinated by Thani

  13. hee-hee, gosh sometimes parenting SUCKS! I have a cat too. Poor animals.

  14. Monty says: Reply

    Carrie’s got it with her comment above, number 11. We’ve had a number of pets survive our nine children making it to their adolescent years using almost the exact same approach. Wish it were easier, but it always seemed to work after a while.

    Reminds me of Granny’s recipe for a cure for the common cold. Take all kinds of nasty ingredients, drink them down, and then wait 10-14 days for the medicine to take effect. Works every time…


  15. Martha says: Reply

    We have the same issue with Jamie. (she is 2) It has occurred to me (fleetingly) that she is being cruel, but reading your posts today has convinced me that this is normal childhood behavior. I like the idea of positive reinforcemnt, but it seems so counter intuitive, – ‘catch em being good’ – is the Teacher term for this I believe.

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