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How do I get my cat to stop hissing at children?

Last spring I took in a stray cat. It is a lovely cat and is very friendly to adults.

However, not long after we got him we realized that he doesn't like children. He hisses at them when they walk by and will swat at them if they come too close. We don't have children over very often and when they do come over we ask that they stay away from the cat (which is never a problem because they are afraid of him) and usually we end up taking the cat away and putting him in a bedroom until the children leave.

Since we have the cat no child has touched or attempted to touch him, so I assume he must have had a bad experience with a child prior to us finding him.

We are expecting our first baby in June and are a bit worried at how the cat will react.

Any suggestions?


Asked by Member 797837 on Jan 28th 2009 in Cats & Kids
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Izadore (Izzie)

This situation must already take extreme vigilance on your part and will continue to do so. Of course, your new baby must come first and if the cat shows any aggressive tendencies toward the baby, he must be rehomed. Babies are not responsible for their actions toward animals and if the baby grabs or falls on the cat, it could be disasterous. You could get an older child to play with the cat with a nonhands-on toy and try to give it treats, but that's taking a chance with the child's safety. Even declawing would not help if you decided to do so in order to keep the cat as declawed cats often resort to using their teeth instead. The cat will probably avoid the baby/child and hide, but again, chances shouldn't be taken. I believe this is something you may want to discuss with your vet who should be able to recommend a behaviorist. It's likely the cat suffered abuse at the hands of children and it will take much patience and dedication to resocialize him.


Izadore (Izzie) answered on 1/28/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 1 Report this answer


Petra

You're right he was probably treated badly by children while he was a stray and has never forgotten that. I'd recommend consulting an animal behaviouralist who specialises in cats to try to teach him thats children can be OK. Hopefully your vet can recommend one and they'll be able to help you. If that doesn't work you should start working to find him a new home without any kids - maybe your parents or another older couple. Good luck and hope things turn out well.


Petra answered on 1/28/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


Guest

It may be true that your cat has had bad experiences with kids, but that doesn't have to be the case. Kids act very differently from adults & in all the ways least acceptable to cats. Kids move suddenly, make alot of noise (much of which is high-pitched), & constantly explode with such energy that makes many cats want to be anywhere else. If it were a cat of mine, I would bring him in the presence of a calm child who is willing to help, in virtual silence or speaking only in whispers or slow, calm, soft tones, & not doing much moving. At first just to be in the kid's presence, with no interaction, for at least 5 minutes each time as often as you can arrange it. I would give treats at the beginning and end of each session. Once the cat warms up to that, I would have the child give him a treat during a session. If your cat becomes more receptive, show the child how to gently stroke him after each treat he/she gives. Switch kids often so the learned trust won't be placed on just one kid.


Member 796903 answered on 1/29/09. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer