Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Is this a sign that our cat is too agressive to have around?

Asked by Dutchess_III (46532points) September 24th, 2014

It started yesterday, when Jayden got a couple pieces of American Cheese out and the cat stole one. The cat is about 2 months old. At first it was funny, seeing this cat fly around the house with the cheese in his mouth and Jayden chasing her. Then I realized the cat was growling angrily so I told Jayden to back off so he didn’t get scratched.

Today the cat picked up a Cheezit cracker that 11 month old Zoey had dropped. She was crouched on the floor eating it, growling the whole time. Then she took it into the kitchen and resumed eating it. Zoey toddled by and the cat snarled and hissed and scratched her. Zoey wasn’t trying to take the food or anything. She was just walking by.

I’ve had lots of cats in my life, but never had a cat that I felt was too aggressive to be around kids so I’m kind of at a loss….

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94 Answers

talljasperman's avatar

Maybe your cat is hungry for people food. Or just plain hungry. Try feeding it food that it likes. try giving it some small fruit pieces and see if it eats them.

snowberry's avatar

^^ cats hate fruit.

You might be right. If the cat is this way at 8 weeks, unless I seriously knew how to tame it, I’d consider rehoming it. Sounds like it has great potential as a barn cat though. Does it know how to hunt?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@talljasperman she has cat food, accessible at all times. I refuse to run around finding some thing she likes to eat! It’s a cat.

I don’t know if she knows how to hunt. She certainly THINKS she’s a hunting leopard. We just found her on our back deck. She couldn’t have been more than 4 weeks old.

I was surprised that cat ate the cracker, too.

jca's avatar

Is the cat a boy or a girl? Is it spayed/neutered yet?

snowberry's avatar

She sounds half feral. Try showing her a grasshopper with the back legs pulled off and see what she does. My guess is she’ll catch it and eat it, which would give her good potential as an excellent barn cat. She definitely sounds like she’s not socialized with people.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She’s a girl. We’re going to get her spayed next paycheck,next week. Since we’ve gotten her she hasn’t been out of the house, except to hang out on the back deck with us. She’s learning to come in when I call the dogs in. If she won’t, I go get her.

jca's avatar

I have two cats that were born in March 2013. When I first got them, one was very aggressive with his food. He would growl and was possessive when eating. Now that’s all gone away.

Your cat is a kitten. Just think, when you have those little toddlers around, their behavior changes month by month, right? The way the baby acts when it’s one is not the way the toddler will act when he’s two, and he will be a very different child when he’s 5. I still store my hairspray up high because when my daughter was about 2, she got her hands on it and sprayed it. Now, she’d never think of doing something like that, and she’s 7.

Give the young kitten a chance. She’s a baby.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks. I was hoping to hear a story like that! I feel better.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t have a barn!

Coloma's avatar

Chasing the cat is making it more aggressive towards protecting it’s snatched morsel.
At 8 weeks old the kitten is also trying out it’s cat behaviors and its instinct to covet it’s food.
Was the kitten a barn cat, or semi-feral when you got it?
I’d say give it time and do not chase it when it steals food.

Use a spray bottle and calmly zap it and say “no.”
Cats do not respond to shouting or punishment the way a dog might.
Shouting at a cat is useless and only scares it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Pretty sure mama was feral. Yes, I need to modify my behaviors too. Give her lots of love.

Buttonstc's avatar

If sounds like this was a stray cat in whose previous life experience food was an uncertain and precious commodity. So, food guarding is a pretty natural behavior.

Once she is spayed and a little more grown up and used to the fact that food is always available to her at her new home, things will settle down.

I had a Callie whom I adopted from a shelter at about 7–8 months old and she was just wild with tons of energy to spare. She was constantly flying around the house and irritating my resident cat.

But once she hit the 12–16 month old mark, she settled down into the most peaceful and good natured adult cat. Out of all the cats i’ve ever had she turned out to be the most stable and less weird in personality than any other cat.

But none of this was in evidence during her wild kittenhood. And most kittens are crazy anyhow. They have more energy than they know what to do with but once they settle into adulthood, it’s a different story.

However, any young animal plus toddlers is just not a combo which should EVER be left unsupervised. Perhaps you’ve been fortunate to have only had very placid cats in the past (but how were they as kittens?)

But even the most calm cat can respond badly to the sudden unpredictability of toddlers. And with two of them, you’ve got your hands full just with them.

Until both kids and kitten grow up a little it’s probably best to keep them separate as much as possible with only short periods of time interacting with each other.

Could you place kitty in one of the bedrooms while they are visiting? As long as she has her litter box and water and kibble, she should be fine. Of course the kids are probably going to want to pet her and play with her so maybe some supervised playtime along with some toys for her to chase as well as an adult right there would be fine and then give her a break in her own space?

Do you have one of those fishing rod/feather dangly toys? That would be great because it enables the kids to play with her while still being safe. Plus it will drain off some of that kitten energy and thoroughly tire her out before taking her break in solitude.

I think that ANY animal behavior expert would advise against too much unsupervised exposure between toddlers and ANY animal (much less a very young one). There’s just too much that can go wrong in a heartbeat without necessarily either kids or animal being at fault. It’s just not a good combination. Period.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t think she was even old enough to be weaned when we found her. She was too little to be hunting. For all we know we were the first ones to give her solid food. We fretted about that.

I put her in the bathroom, where her food is automatically dispensed, and where her litterbox is. She just hates it. :( She cries and yells and cries and yells….

Thing is Zoey isn’t really pestering the cat at all. She’ll just be walking by. A while ago she was just sitting in this chair behind me and the cat jumped up and started swatting at her hands.

I think it will be OK in the end.

jca's avatar

I mentioned on another thread (dog thread) that I see on animal rescue sites where they post videos of toddlers and young children doing things to dogs like hugging them around the neck. The commenters are astounded that there’s no parent around saying “No, honey, don’t do that.” What the commenters say is that the dog will end up biting the child, and then the dog will be put down, when it’s no fault of the dog’s.

Animals have their instinctive behavior, and don’t speak English (or whatever language is spoken in your house) so they have to learn to figure things out. Children and animals are not a good mix.

I have an adult cat who is cranky and just bit one of my daughter’s friends. The friend went into my room and didn’t know not to pet the cat, and I guess she may have touched the cat’s stomach and the cat bit.

I had a boy cat who was so loving and sweet, yet, on occasion, when you gave him dinner, he would growl and act possessive. If I weren’t patient, I would have said “I’m done with this cat, he scares me.” Yet I didn’t and he was the sweetest thing.

I hope you’re not locking the cat up in the bathroom. That’s not nice for the cat.

Dutchess_III's avatar

When she goes after Zoey I’ll put her in the bathroom for about 20 minutes, hoping she’ll make the connection.

Other than that she has the run of the house and OWNS the dogs!

Buttonstc's avatar

I think the reason she cries when in the bathroom is because it’s a very small, cold and uncomfortable space. It’s mostly cold tile without any soft snuggly places. if someone locked me in a bathroom, I’d cry too. Try to see it from her perception.

A bedroom is much like the rest of the house and doesn’t feel so cold and isolated. Plus there’s a nice soft bed to nap on :)

I used to put my cats in my bedroom even when I had adult company over. Anybody who was a cat person would ask me if it was ok to go in and visit with them. Of course I said yes. But I had quite a few friends who just weren’t cat people and I know they appreciated not having them around; plus a house full of a party group of adults is enough to scare most cats.

I think they were relieved to be in a peaceful comfy bedroom without a bunch of nosy people bothering them :)

livelaughlove21's avatar

You can’t give a cat a time out like it’s a child, hoping it’ll understand why it’s locked in a small room. It won’t. It’s a cat. I can’t tell you what the answer is, as I’ve never seen a cat behave that way at such a young age, but sticking her in the bathroom will fix nothing.

ibstubro's avatar

I think perhaps the cat sees your grandkids as usurpers of her territory, being as how they are all in about the same stage of development.

Maybe you could get some cat treats and give kitty one before you let the kids have one?

I bet the trauma of having her fixed will end the aggression. If not, I would find her a new home.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Actually, my bathroom is freaking huge. It’s probably the size of a modern, average kitchen. At this point it’s the same temp as the rest of the house since I don’t have AC or heat on, because it’s that time of year. She has comfy places to go in there.

I understand that @livelaughlove21, but if it comes down to a choice between the cat getting isolated or my grand daughter being isolated, the cat will be the one isolated. If she learns from it, good. If not, at least my grand daughter won’t be scratched up by the cat. Some people out there would vote for the baby being isolated because some people are animal freaks and stupid to the nth degree.

Dutchess_III's avatar

(What is with this “bribe them with food” stuff?)

ibstubro's avatar

(Do you know something else, besides food, a cat responds to, @Dutchess_III)

jca's avatar

@ibstubro: It’s a baby. Aggression in a baby is probably not going to carry through to adult cat-hood.

jerv's avatar

They like prey. They hate anything that may steal it’s prey. They also feel threatened by kids.

Imagine yourself in the cat’s place; if you were confronted by a 60-foot-tall giant, you’d be intimidated by their mere presence, especially if they act loud and unpredictable. And they might try to take your food! You hunted hard for it. It’s your prey!

Can you honestly tell me you wouldn’t be a little aggressive yourself?

Just let kitty have his snack.and it’ll be fine.

But it sounds like you’ve only ever had domesticated adult cats and never dealt with strays. If you want to isolate it, isolate it at a shelter. I have a cat that used to be like that and grew more domesticated with patience and understanding. I’ve also rescued cats that were isolated the way you are considering, and… well, you don’t solve anything by making it worse.

jerv's avatar

While you and I know that the kids weren’t trying to take Kitty’s food, Kitty doesn’t know that. Kitty only sees other, larger animals around. Threats. Kitty sees threats. How do animals generally react to threats? Often with counter-threats; for humans it’s often merely verbal, but for animals, it’s hissing/growling and other displays of potential aggression. However, that also implies that Kitty hasn’t adopted the kids into her pack yet.

longgone's avatar

@Coloma “Shouting at a cat is useless and only scares it.”

^ The exact same thing is true for dogs.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I think it’s kind of mean to lock the kitten in the bathroom, even if it’s big. My cats are adults and they get upset if they accidentally get locked in one of the bedrooms.

I have a friend who had a cat and she didn’t want the cat to ruin her nice house. The cat lived permanently in her unfinished basement. She would let it out for short periods of time. When I visited, I would convince her to let it out longer. She would fret over it possibly scratching her curtains. The cat was finally granted the privilege of a box in her garage (this is in NY where winters may be 10 or 20 degrees at night). The cat finally got hit by a car. Sad life for the cat. The same friend now has a cat and is more laid back, and lets the cat live with them, like any other cat. Cats do like to be with people, not secluded.

syz's avatar

Food aggression in cats is not as common as it is in dogs. Your description does not include any description of aggression at any other time, so I’m assuming that this is what the kitten is exhibiting.

I strongly suspect that a period of plentiful, quality kitten food and a stable home will see this behavior disappear fairly quickly. (Punishing her is only going to increase her stress and skew her behavior.) Get her spayed, know that she protects food items and so leave her alone when she steal something, and let her grow up a little. She’ll be fine.

jca's avatar

I’m wondering also if the cat may be hungry, @Dutchess_III. Are you feeding her enough? I would think if she is full, she wouldn’t be stealing food.

ibstubro's avatar

CRIPES! The kitten sees the grandkids as rivals.

If she hasn’t stolen food from you or your husband, then the only variable in the question is the grandkids.

”(What is with this “bribe them with food” stuff?)”
When did you describe aggression that food was not involved??

jerv's avatar

@syz Sadly, I am limited to a single +1 per answer.

@jca Every cat I’ve owned has gone after my food, even when their dishes are full. Whether it’s curiosity or just hunting, I’m not sure, but given how seldom they eat their “catch“and how quickly they lose interest when I offer them a piece, I suspect it’s just the thrill of the hunt. I tried asking Izzy, but she just gave me a funny look, curled up on the foot of the bed, and fell asleep; I doubt she’ll tell me.

jca's avatar

@jerv: Mine won’t usually go after my food if they have just been fed. They may be curious but they won’t be pushy about it. That’s why I wonder about this kitten of @Dutchess_III.‘s

Dutchess_III's avatar

You guys are so blowing this out of proportion! Again! She isn’t locked in the bathroom all the time. The vast majority of the time she’s running around the house, like now.

@jca we have one of those auto feed dispensers. Holds a 5 lb bag so she’s not hurting for food. She has access to it 24/7.

The real aggression comes with the food @ibstubro. The rest of the time she’s just being a regular, hyperactive kitten, hiding behind corners and jumping out at you, and jumping on the dogs, flying around the furniture like the laws of gravity don’t apply to her. Normal kitty stuff.

I’ve just never dealt with a cat who growled when she was eating before. I think she’ll grow out of it. I’ll make a point of starting to pet her when she’s eating. Hopefully that will reduce her concerns.

Here’s her the other day with the cheese. This picture doesn’t convey the speed, but all four feet are off the ground in this! She’s flying! As I said, when I realized she was genuinely upset I told my grandson to just back off and leave her be.

ibstubro's avatar

Hyperbole. It’s your great strength and frequent weakness, @Dutchess_III. We love you for it so you just gotta love us back.

I still say that if you know the kids are going to eat/get a treat, get a cat treat and give kitty one just before. Reward your dependents equally.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I told Jayden next time to get only one piece of cheese at a time.

Neither one of them are being “rewarded” for anything.

snowberry's avatar

^^ I like it. If the kids take a while, you might want to give more than one treat, or maybe a “treat ball” sort of thing. Something to keep kitty distracted while kids have food.

Cats generally DO NOT like sweet things, and she should be able to smell that, so it’s only when the kids are eating food she’d want that you would need to pull out the cat treats.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yesterday Jayden had an apple that he asked me to cut up and make magic. He was worried about Vanta making off with a slice. I reassured him she wouldn’t mess with his apple. :)

I just don’t do “treats” for the pets. They often get our leftovers, but that’s not what I would consider a treat. It’s just helping me clean up.

longgone's avatar

“I’ll make a point of starting to pet her when she’s eating. Hopefully that will reduce her concerns.”

I know hardly anything about cats, I’ll be pretending this animal is a dog:

Look at it from the cat’s point of view. Why would petting reduce her concerns? She wants to eat in peace, and cuddling (as we all know from experience) is only enjoyable when one wants to be cuddled.

Now, what probably would help – quickly and without any worry of adverse effects – is dropping a piece of cheese in front of your kitty as you walk past. She attacked Zoey just for toddling past, right? She needs to learn that humans approaching her food are good news.

You seem defensive about this, and you said you don’t like to bribe pets. I agree that the cat will probably grow out of this behaviour at some point. However…since she’s young, it would probably be a matter of days for her to understand that Zoey is a source of food, not a rival. If this were my cat animal, I’d try it out.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@longgone, I figure If she associates eating with something good, like being petted, and no one is trying to take her food away, hopefully she’ll lose the aggression.

How do I seem defensive? I cleared up some misconceptions people were starting to have, like I don’t feed her enough, or I keep her locked in the bathroom all the time. Neither of those are true.

It does frustrate me when Fluther takes things to all kinds of levels that aren’t even valid. I’m sure it frustrates everyone when it happens.

longgone's avatar

I can see why you’re frustrated, it’s happened to me before.

The petting will not be her priority in that moment. Petting does not inherently feel good, or limit stress – many people think it does. Petting feels good when the “pettee” is in the mood. The cat is showing you she wants food. I’d give her food – for being good.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Dutchess_III Whether or not something is “good” depends on the context. Have you noticed how children often run after a pet to touch it, and the pet runs away? Isn’t it exactly the same action as when you pet the cat in a calm moment?

No, it’s not. This is because you need to read the situation to know if the action is appropriate at that time. Petting the cat is a welcome action when the cat desires it – when the cat is looking for attention and affection. Petting the cat when it is trying to eat is a terrible idea, particularly if the cat is already feeling territorial about food.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I know you said you don’t keep the cat locked in the bathroom all the time but I am saying any length of time is upsetting for any cat. I gave examples of my cats not liking to be in the bedroom (when they’re shut in there by accident or because I need to keep the front door open for some reason), because they want to be near people. You said the bathroom is big, but so are our bedrooms. They just want to be near people. I would think especially a little kitten, just barely old enough to be away from her mother. The kitten is also not likely to associate being locked in the bathroom with what she did wrong.

jca's avatar

@dappled_leaves makes a great point about not petting the cat when it is being fed.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@jca As a counterpoint, all of my cats were locked up in the kitchen/dining room overnight, for as long as I had them. It the room is comfortable, and most of the time they are free to roam, it’s certainly not going to be upsetting for the pet to be confined for a short period. This is the basis of crate training in dogs, for example.

jca's avatar

@dappled_leaves: Maybe your kitchen/dining room is bigger than my bedrooms. I don’t know. I just know when my cats are shut in the bedrooms they put their paws underneath the doors like “help me! help meeee!” Apparently @Dutchess_III‘s kitty doesn’t like the bathroom. I feel bad for the kitty because at 8 weeks old, it’s just a baby, really. Even if it’s only shut up for 20 minutes, it’s apparently lonely or something.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@jca I can’t believe you’re seriously putting the cats wishes and feelings over those of a baby’s safety. I don’t think the cat could do any real damage, unless she meant to, but if she’s going to scratch the baby, I’m putting her somewhere so she can’t. Zoey’s too little to defend herself or to take any action.

Her brother, on the other hand, who is 7, loves playing with the cat. He builds caves and stuff for her. He once built a whole circus around the cat, which was a wild leopard for the occasion. Zoey there was my attempt to turn her into a clown with the only thing I had red, food coloring. :/

I’ve never known a cat that minded being petted when they’re eating. They’ve always arched up under my hand then quit eating when I walked away, and came down for more.

I’ve accidentally left her on the deck and she meows to come back in. She’d rather be with us than alone, and that’s understandable. And I’m glad. But sometimes it’s not an option. My baby comes before any animal.

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: I’m not saying sacrifice the baby to the lions. I’m saying there’s a way to keep the baby safe and supervised and yet not confuse the kitten, and make sure everyone’s needs are met.

Of course your baby comes before any animal. Anybody who would say otherwise is a fucking idiot and should have the child removed. Remember you’re talking to a CPS worker.

jca's avatar

I purposely gave the example of the videos of the kid hugging the dog as an example of kids meaning well but not doing what animals may like. The kids have good intentions, the parents say “isn’t that cute” and then the kid gets bit.

My advice is keep the kid away from the kitten unless there is close supervision.

longgone's avatar

“I’ve never known a cat that minded being petted when they’re eating.”

Well, live and learn. I, on the other hand, have never known a pet that enjoys being petted while it’s eating.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! @jca cussed!!!!

Well, how do I do that? How in the world do I keep the baby away from the cat, or the cat away from the baby?

@longgone We used to feed the cat on top of the dryer to keep the dogs from her food. This one cat I had, Smokey, would stop eating when you came in the laundry room, and turn around to give you a friendly headbutt, and rub her face along your chin, then go back to eating.

jca's avatar

Tell the baby to stay away from the cat, or when the baby is near the cat, be right there or have someone right there, almost on top of them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She’s 11 months old. She’s not verbal, but she is walking. They’re both all over the house, the kitten is usually moving at top speed. There is no way for me to know in advance when their worlds are going to collide.

Besides, how could the baby stay away from the cat even if she understood what I was telling her? How can anyone “stay away” from a cat who wants you? They hide and JUMP out at you when you aren’t expecting it, you know.

Dutchess_III's avatar

They hit and run at the speed of light.

jca's avatar

I don’t know, @Dutchess_III. When my daughter was that age, my three cats were adults. She wasn’t yet walking, so they would come up and see her and she would pet them but that was it.

I don’t profess to have all the answers. Maybe if it’s too stressful, give the kitten away. Just give it to someone who will provide a good home.

With my friend who had the cat living in the basement, I felt like that cat would be better off in a house that wasn’t so nice, but with owners who treated it like a pet and not a burden.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No, she’ll out grow it.

In the mean time, when the cat starts feeling rambunctious and wanting to “play” with Zoey I’ll put her in the bathroom with some toys and let her out when she works it off.

When Zoey’s asleep in the bedroom, with the door shut, the cat has the run of the house.

All evening she has the run of the house and the dogs. Also, I only have Zoes two days a week, usually. Often I got to their house to watch her.

So, for the vast majority of the time, the cat is free to go anywhere she wants. She’s not being abused or starved, and she isn’t lacking for love and affection. She’s sleeping on my lap now.

I was just concerned because I’d never experienced the growling thing before. But you guys have reassured me that she’ll probably out grow it.

Also, I’ve never had a cat come inside off the deck when I called them, either. But this one does!

jca's avatar

I have two older cats and two young cats (15 months old, brothers). The two young ones are still energetic but when they were little kittens, they were totally nuts and I was very thankful that I didn’t have the toddler simultaneously. My daughter is 7 now so she’s more mature and likes to play with them but she was more understanding. If I had the young kittens at the same time I had a toddler, I’d probably have had a nervous breakdown!

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ve been thinking about this. I don’t think I’ve ever had a new kitten with toddlers around before. Well, my my grandson was just 2 I got a kitten. But this cat was so scared all the time because of the situation she was born into, all she ever did was hide.
Maybe this is normal then. :/
Update. Apparently she has changed her mind about coming in when I call. :/

snowberry's avatar

@Dutchess_III Have you considered hand feeding the cat? That’s the best way for the cat to come to see you as a source of food and to hopefully treat you and baby better. Since it is half feral, feed it off of a spoon so it doesn’t try to take your fingers with it. You might need to mix dry and wet food to get it to stick.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t really understand how it could have become feral when it was still nursing when we found her. I mean, she was too little to hunt.

I could, but I don’t think it would stop her from “playing” with the baby. She’s only been aggressive about food twice now, but she’s “played” with the baby a hundred times.

snowberry's avatar

OK, well it seems to act feral, anyway.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Just with the food thing. But other than that she’s just a wild kitty, like all kittens are! I mean, she’s never gone off the deck, never been in the grass or in the bushes. She loves to cuddle when she’s not trying to rip your toes off.

jerv's avatar

Feral as in, “mommy didn’t teach them how to cat”. Just as young children sometimes blurt out socially inappropriate things, young cats don’t exactly have the best manners and social graces. This is especially common in those that never graduated from mother’s milk to food.

As for coming when you call, what’s in it for them? If they want a belly rub or an ear scritch, they’ll come whether you call them or not. Same if you do something they associate with tasty noms. But if they don’t want something, they really have no desire to come when called. Of course, if they see you as a surrogate mother things are different; that’s why Slagathor was so affectionate to the point of clinginess, but only towards me.

jca's avatar

Feral cats are wild cats that have little or no human interaction. They are usually terrified of humans (and rightly so).

If this was a barn cat but humans were around petting them and talking to them, and they weren’t scared of the humans, then I don’t think it seems like a feral cat.

ibstubro's avatar

I agree with @jca. To me a feral cat is a wild animal. Similar to a squirrel…tolerant of human presence as long as there is distance.

Buttonstc's avatar

People who work with feral cat populations, will usually take the kittens and get them adopted into homes since at that age they aren’t yet totally feral.

But neither have they been socialized to the degree that a litter of kittens born to a non-feral mother.

Even tho they may still be nursing, kittens are extremely perceptive of the mother’s reactions to things and will mimic her patterns.

This is why food has such exaggerated importance to a cat born to a feral. Where do you think she learned to growl if she perceives anyone usurping her food?

She should grow out of this to a large extent as she realizes that she always has food available to her 24/7 in this environment.

But my Velvet had been picked up as a stray and never forgot growing up on the mean streets of Philly. Even tho she always had food available to her 24/7, she was a lifelong “foodaholic”. It always had an exaggerated importance to her and whenever I ate she wpuid be in begging mode. Her eyes (and head) followed every bite I took from plate to mouth.

Of course I would give her some bites of white meat chicken and other goodies because it just meant so much to her. She would even eat veggies and bits of tomato when I gave them to her. I’ve never had any other cat who showed the slightest interest in stuff like that. But, I guess her memories of starving on the streets left her with a lifelong insecurity about food.

Fortunately, she just wasn’t an aggressive type of cat. However, she wasn’t above snatching meat off my plate if I was momentarily distracted :)

So, your kitty is fortunately young enough to outgrow most of her exposure to the feral type of behaviors with which she was surrounded.

But she might have a lingering insecurity about food issues.

I thought both of your grands were toddlers but the boy is old enough to understand how to properly handle animals.

The little girl obviously won’t have a clue for quite a while but since she’s the only one you need to keep such a careful eye upon, things should work out fine eventually.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We saw the Mama come around. She came from across the street. There are no “barns” around, but she may have been living in a garage or something. IDK.

My husband and I befriended a feral cat once, over a weekend we spent in a cabin at Lake Wister, OK. We were there from Friday to Monday. Took a looong time to reach this pretty black and white kitty, and a lot of patience and some good food…eggs, hotdogs, bacon, milk. She lived in the woods across from the cabin. By Saturday night she was willing to curl up on our laps, purring as we pet her. She’d lounge on the table on the patio, just as relaxed as could be. But boy, any sudden movement or a cough and she acted like she was shot out of a cannon!
We found out though, that if we kind of talked to her as we stood up she didn’t bolt so easily. So I’d be like, “Standing up here, Wister. Standing up here. Going to the door, Wister, going to the door. Opening the door Wister, Opening the green door.”
It was pretty interesting and I felt honored, really.
I would guess that she was about a year old.

We hated to leave her, but we knew it wouldn’t work out at home, especially with the two dogs. The instant she got outside she’d be gone. She’d be wild again, but not in a place that was familiar to her,and that would be sad.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I went out on the deck. When I came in I heard Rick say, “There she is!” and Vanta came flying around the corner. Apparently, when I went out side, she ran over to Rick and starting meowing and meowing! Jumped on the couch and meowed at him. Jumped on the floor and meowed at him. Meowed the whole time I was gone. So I went over to her to give her a pet, and she whirled around and wrapped her legs around my arm and started play biting me. Guess she likes me.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Kittens are so much fun to have around when they aren’t trying to tear your grand babies limb from limb. Vanta is sitting on the back of the recliner, looking up at the ceiling fan going round and round. I’m going “Rick….there is a youtube moment coming up!” Need to have my camera ready….

Dutchess_III's avatar

Damn it. Have Zoey again for the first time since I wrote this. Something about the baby just sets that damn cat OFF. She hunts her down. So, she’s in the bathroom, again.

jca's avatar

Nice punishment.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, I didn’t spank her!

Dutchess_III's avatar

And it isn’t “punishment.” It’s the only way I know of to keep them separated.

ibstubro's avatar

You run the risk of creating ever greater animosity from the cat toward the baby, but I can’t offer a decent alternative.

At least get some cat toys for the tub.

Maybe grow some catnip and only allow access when Zoey is there? Maybe the cat will get stoned and spend the time napping and munching. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

Actually, Vanta seems to be doing better. She’ll jump at things that Zoey has in her hand, like the sock with a knot in it that we made for the dogs, but for the most part she isn’t going after the kid’s body parts.
One time she started to. I said, “Vanta!” and she immediately stopped.

Guess she made the connection. If she forgets I’ll give her a refresher course.

jerv's avatar

@ibstubro Overexposure to catnip leads to building up a tolerance/immunity.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Tolerance/immunity to what, @jerv? Why are we whispering? Is is illegal?

ibstubro's avatar

Are you being overexposed to Zoey, @Dutchess_III? Are you developing a tolerance/immunity?

Dutchess_III's avatar


Buttonstc's avatar

Since it seems like kitty wants to play with Zoey, why not get a toy which enables that in a safe manner?

Obviously the sock with a knot designed for the dogs is way too close for comfort.

If you don’t want the expense of a store bought one, I’ve made one for my cats with a long tree branch to which I’ve attached the plastic rings (cut apart) from soda six packs attached with duct tape and nylon fishing line. It’s iight but sturdy and flexible and cats love chasing it around when dangled before them.

You can also attach feathers or anything else appealing. Cats love this type of toy and I’ve gotten mine leaping several feet off the ground to get it.

This will give them a positive interaction and help drain off some of that overabundant kitten energy which is normal for her age but so over the top to deal with.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I don’t know how adept she’d be at it. She’s not quite a year old. But I get your point. That’s a good thought. Thanks.

Buttonstc's avatar

Well, she certainly wouldn’t be as adept as an adult or older child but kitty needs to be able to experience success by “catching” the prey so that’s fine.

But most toddlers are capable of holding a stick and moving it around a bit. As long as it keeps the desirable part (for kitty) a bit away from herself, there’s less chance of harm to her.

That’s one of the toughest things to teach ALL kittens; namely, that human hands and feet are not toys.

Plus, kittens from non-feral mothers do learn to inhibit their claws and teeth as a normal part of the growing up process.

So, you’re now playing the part of the mommy cat in teaching this kitten what is appropriate for interacting with humans and what is unacceptable.

It took me quite a long time to get this across to Smoochy (who was a stray from probably a young age) that she was biting way too hard.

I knew she was not doing it from aggression but from playing by her body language. But she had never learned to inhibit the strength of her biting to just a nip for play. (And also to keep her nails sheathed when swatting playfully.)

Most kittens from domesticated mothers do learn this to a degree and just need to have it consistently reinforced. It’s not a totally new concept to them.

There is so much critical learning going on in those first few weeks and months of a kittens life. It’s more difficult to play catch up.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m trying to think of a stick that wouldn’t hurt her if she fell on it. (She falls a lot!) Maybe a fat baseball bat or something?

BTW, here is a pic of the kid in question, with the evil panther in the background. Yes. She had been eating dirt.

Buttonstc's avatar

How about trying one of those long skinny foam pool noodles? Do you know what i mean? Thats the only thing i know to call them.

It’s not absolutely necessary that it be hard and rigid as long as you can attach stuff to the end to wave or dangle in front of kitty.

And you can also check out whats available in the local pet stores.

I’m trying to think of other safer types of “wands” you could duct tape dangly things to. Perhaps the cardboard tube inside the paper towel roll?

It doesn’t take much to spark the interest of a kitten at this age. They’re always ready for the chase. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be that sturdy if you’re re-using things like paper towel tubes and yarn or something. When one wears out, another one is available to be made for literally pennies.

As long as it’s long enough to prevent kitty from mistaking her hand for the toy, it does it’s job and it gives the toddler something to laugh about while kitty chases it.

Have fun with it :) You’re a pretty creative type. I think you’ll come up with something.

Buttonstc's avatar


It just came to me. The perfect safe, cheap wand. Hopefully you have one or more hanging in your closets.

There are some wire clothes hangers which have a pretty sturdy hollow cardboard horizontal cross piece rather than all wire.

I’ve usually gotten them when I brought slacks to the cleaners. They’re better than the all wire ones because they don’t leave sharp creases from the thin wire.

They’re a bit more sturdy than paper towel rolls plus thinner for ease with young hands.

And because they’re pieces of cardboard, its easier to attach either fishing line or yarn or whatever for dangling. And putting some plastic soda rings on the end will spark kitty’s interest.

My cats used to go nuts for them. Plus they could really chew and sink their teeth into the strong plastic rings.

The the other thing I tied to the ends were the thin plastic rings from around the tops of gallon milk jugs. My cats went nuts for those.

I also used to leave them singly on the kitchen floor where they would bat them around skidding across the linoleum. When on the living room rug, they could send it flying up high in the air by just hooking a nail underneath and flipping it up. Best cat toy ever.

It doesn’t really take expensive stuff to entertain a cat. They don’t care how cheap it is or how abundant. As long as it’s light and fun to chase and pounce on. I’ve gotten hours and hours of fun out of them (recycling in action :)

ibstubro's avatar

The problem with encouraging kid and kitty to play is that you cannot control either one effectively. Both will likely be attracted to dangly things and if the kid decides to dangle across her face and the cat claws her, no one is at fault but you.

The only way I can envision this type of play working is if the stick was in a fixed location and all the baby could do is swat the stick, making it bounce up and down. Like a fishing pole anchored in a mount.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Good thoughts @Buttonstc. And you too, @ibstubro. Since I can’t explain the concept to her, I’m not sure she could effectively utilize something that she has to control. Making it stationary is a good idea. Of course, I can see her swatting the end that has the toy on it and the kitten grabbing the toy, then spinning and grabbing her feet!

ibstubro's avatar

Yes, pretty much anything that attracts a kitten is going to attract a baby, light and motion wise.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I feel bad cuz I have to put Vanta in the bathroom when Zoey is taking her nap. The door to the bedroom won’t close all the way and yesterday Vanta got in there and jumped in the playpen where Zoes was sleeping and woke her up. :(

ibstubro's avatar

Fix the damned door. lol It might help if Vanta could see Zoey closed up in a room, too.

Put Zoey down in the bathtub. :)

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! Rick was going to fix that door. He said he would. Four years ago.

I had about settled on the pool noodle but then I realized Zoey would bite chunks out of it. Not good.

Update tho….so far this morning Vanta has been “playing” with Zoes, but apparently is keeping her claws sheathed. Zoe hasn’t cried once.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Things are a LOT better. Vanta has learned to keep her claws sheathed. Every once in a while she’ll scratch Zoey, which makes Zoey cry, and she’s learned that if Zoey cries she winds up in the bathroom.

Fewer incidents every day. Yay. Cuz I like that cat!

Buttonstc's avatar

She sounds like a smart kitten who learns quickly. I’m glad it’s working out for you.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks. I am too.

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