My 8-month old loves our cats. One of the cats is smart and stays out of his way. The other cat is pretty placid and loves attention of any sort so she sticks around and lets our son maul her. Right now, he'll often aggressively pat her. He isn't trying to be rough, he just doesn't have the fine motor control to do anything more gentle. So far, the cat doesn't seem to mind. However, I'm afraid letting him treat the cat this way is encouraging bad habits. Currently, I try to avoid any baby/cat interactions unless I'm closely supervising but this isn't always possible.

Any suggestions on how to make sure my son develops appropriate cat petting skills?

asked 14 Dec '09, 15:54

Kiesa's gravatar image

Kiesa ♦
accept rate: 26%

What we're doing right now is holding our baby's hand, and petting the cat with it. We reinforce good petting verbally, and discourage bad petting (grabbing at fur, face, etc) both verbally, and by picking him up and placing him away from the cat. Until he develops good motor skills, though, he isn't going to improve much.

However, our cat is wary of children, and will only hang out with the baby if we adults are near, so we don't worry about it too much. There will be plenty of time when he's older to pet and play with the cat, so if he misses out as a baby it won't be a bad thing.

Our cat is very mild, though. With a more aggressive cat you might need to teach the baby earlier. Even with a mild cat, keep in mind that moods can change instantly, and what might be playing for the cat might be painful for the baby.


answered 14 Dec '09, 17:07

Adam%20Davis's gravatar image

Adam Davis
accept rate: 31%

"Until he develops good motor skills, though, he isn't going to improve much."

I think you hit the nail on the head. At this point everything within baby's reach is either food or entertainment. I think supervised "play" time in the cat's vicinity is the best approach. Babies have to learn everything, and this is one of the way that s/he'll learn fine motor control.

(14 Dec '09, 18:34) Jeff
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Asked: 14 Dec '09, 15:54

Seen: 2,575 times

Last updated: 14 Dec '09, 17:07