Catster is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn more.

Cats and Toddlers: How to Keep the Peace Between Your Pet & Child

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on January 31, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

a happy kid petting a cat at home

Cats and Toddlers: How to Keep the Peace Between Your Pet & Child


Dr. Amanda Charles Photo


Dr. Amanda Charles

BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Toddlers are curious, and most love to explore as they learn about our world. It’s natural for them to want to pet and interact with cats. Yet, their attempts to show love can rub cats the wrong way, which can result in stress and, ultimately, unwanted behavior. Thankfully, there are ways you can maintain order and keep your child and cat safe. Keep reading for six tips to help keep the peace between your child and your cat.

cat paw divider

The 6 Tips on How to Keep the Peace Between Your Cat and Toddlers

1. Supervise All Interactions

Cats and toddlers should always be supervised to ensure that everyone stays safe and interactions are positive. Even the most well-behaved toddlers can do things that annoy and stress cats, which can lead to aggression if they become overwhelmed and feel cornered.

Cats can react feistily when toddlers pet them too hard or grab their tails. Being around during all the interactions allows you to manage the situations lovingly and proactively. You should model the behavior you wish your toddler to learn when caring compassionately for another living being.

mother and daughter playing cat
Image Credit: Yuri A, Shutterstock

2. Set Up a Space for Your Cat

Providing cats with calm, safe places to hang out can prevent them from becoming overly stressed from interactions with kids. Consider creating a dedicated space for your cat where they can go and decompress in peace; make sure it’s somewhere quiet and in a room your toddler can’t find their way into.

Include a warm bed to nap, food and water bowls, and a litter box. You can also add a few toys and a scratching post to create a welcoming environment for your cat to relax.

3. Interpreting Your Cat’s Body Language

Ending interactions between your cat and child before they become heated can keep them safe and prevent injuries. Body language such as flattened ears, a thwacking tail, and narrowed eyes indicate a cat is stressed.

Frightened cats often have dilated pupils and pulled-back whiskers. Some tuck their tails under their bodies when they feel threatened.

However, happy cats usually purr, knead, and stretch out when lounging. By interpreting your cat’s body language, you can determine if it’s an appropriate time for your child to play with them.

cat owner talking to his pet
Image Credit: Aziz Acharki, Unsplash

4. Teach Your Kid How to Pet Cats

Gentle, open-palmed strokes are the way to go with cats. Toddlers need help with their petting techniques since many are prone to poking, prodding, and hitting the cats.

Cats also have strong preferences regarding where they’re touched; they like to be petted on their backs, necks, shoulders, and behind their ears. It’s best to warn your child to avoid petting your cat on their tail, tummy, or paws.

5. Make Sure Your Child Knows When to Stay Away

Ensure your toddler stays away from your cat if they’re hissing, growling, or thrashing their tail. Cats can become aggressive out of fear if not allowed the time and space to collect themselves. They should also be taught to leave the cat alone when they’re sleeping.

daddy with little girl petting cat
Image Credit: goodluz, Shutterstock

6. Provide High Perches

Cats typically love hanging out in high places, and it’s a good idea to have perches and shelves for them to enjoy. However, it becomes even more important when cats and toddlers share the same home.

If your child’s energy is too much for your cat to handle, your pet can climb up to their perch or shelf to get away. When a cat has an escape route, they’re less likely to attack an overly excitable kid.

cat paw divider


Cats and toddlers both bring love, light, and laughter into the world, but they can sometimes have trouble getting along. Supervising all interactions is essential to ensure the safety and well-being of your child and cat. Providing your cat with safe places to retreat when feeling overwhelmed, and high places to hang out, can establish a comfortable environment where they can appropriately manage their stress. Teaching your kid when to leave the cat alone and providing guidance about how to pet them can also improve the chances of peaceful interactions.

Featured Image Credit: FamVeld, Shutterstock

Get Catster in your inbox!

Stay informed! Get tips and exclusive deals.
Catster Editors Choice Badge
Shopping Cart


© Pangolia Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved.