Toddlers: 12 - 24 Months

Raising a toddler around pets?

We have a 20 month old daughter, and just adopted a 6 week old kitten. We've always wanted to get a small pet for her to grow up with, but we didn't realize the kittens would be "ready" so quickly. Anyway, my DD wasn't so sure about the kitty at first, but now she LOVES it. Has to be holding it. Unfortunately, her grip seems a little tight. And she usually grabs it around the neck to pick it up. Any advice about raising a toddler with a baby kitty/pet? We've started referring to the kitten as a "baby", because DD does have a younger cousin, and she seems to understand being a little gentler with her since she is a baby. We're hoping this poor kitten is pretty resilient lol
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Re: Raising a toddler around pets?

  • My son is younger than your daughter but he's been around our 2 cats and 2 big dogs since he was born and loves them to death. I think that children really watch their parents and how they interact with the animals and try to mimic that (unless they are really excited then they get a little rough with them!) Whenever we have DS around the animals we constantly are showing him how to pet nice, give kisses and hugs and that you shouldn't scream in their face because it scares them. Repetition is key and just lead by example. Show how to treat animals nicely and I bet your daughter will catch on.

     

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  • Our dog and cat are both older than DS, but he's amazing around them, and they're amazing around him. We are very big on teaching gentle touch/nice touch, and making sure the animals have somewhere quiet and child free they can escape to if necessary. DS is big on the cat right now, and spends a lot of time chasing him through the house yelling "KITTY KITTY." The cat's a good sport about it, but ends up hiding under the bed after 5-10 minutes.
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  • We teach "gentle".  If DS is too rough I stop him and say, "gentle"  Then I show him how to be gentle.  I take his hand and pet the dog/cat gently.  

    I started doing this when he started crawling and the dog couldn't get away from him anymore...around 13-14 months or so and now all I have to say is "gentle" and he will release his stranglehold and start to pet gently.  I had to be really diligent the first few weeks, though...it took a lot of practice.

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  • Thanks for the advice. I figured it would be all about repition, as is everything with a toddler. Hopefully she'll get over the initial excitement quickly. The kitten doesn't seem to mind much. She follows DD around and vice versa
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  • Try to be around the them when they're interacting. Gently reprimand your daughter when she's too rough, and show her how to be gentle. And prepared for her to get some scratches!
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  • Our cat is older than DS, but we taught him "gentle".  We showed him how we wanted him to pet the cat and keep an eye on the two of them to make sure DS doesn't hit and kitty doesn't swipe.  As bad as it sounds, we allowed the cat to hiss at the baby if he was pinching the kitty or getting too much in his space.  We make sure the cat also always has an escape route.  A cornered animal is more likely to attack than run away.  DS eventually learned that being gentle means the cat won't hiss or run away, and the cat has learned to not get too close unless he's ready for baby snuggles.

    Since you have a kitten, I'd definately keep a close eye on both of them for now.  Both LO and kitty have to learn respect for each other without one of them getting hurt.  Model to your DD how you want her to treat the cat, and use words like "ouch" when she's hurting the cat.  While the cat is allowed to hiss to tell LO to stop hurting it, make sure the cat has a few hidey holes that DD can't get at.  My cat's kitty condo helped him feel like he had a safe haven away from baby when he's had enough.

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  • Supervise every single interaction, and separate the two when you can't. At this point, I would not let her pick up the kitten until she's able to understand/follow instructions. 

    Also, six weeks is SUPER young to have a kitten be separated from its mother. Just be aware that you're going to have to teach it things like bite inhibition that it should have learned from its mother/litter. 

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  • image Packerfan79:
    image RedheadBaker:

    Supervise every single interaction, and separate the two when you can't. At this point, I would not let her pick up the kitten until she's able to understand/follow instructions. 

    Also, six weeks is SUPER young to have a kitten be separated from its mother. Just be aware that you're going to have to teach it things like bite inhibition that it should have learned from its mother/litter. 

    All of this, not sure where you adopted from but 12 weeks is the earliest I would have been ok with. 



    I agree that 6 weeks seems far too young. We adopted it from a friend, and were told 12 weeks. All of a sudden they called us to pick it up. They said the mother had dried up and become hostile towards the kittens, so they adopted them out early
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