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Old July 17th, 2014, 04:40 PM
Swhite Swhite is offline
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Question Cat purposely scratching toddler

I have a question that I am hoping someone can advise me on. This is my first pair of cats. We adopted a brother/sister pair from a shelter when they were four months old. They've been super easy to train, and our family loves them. The only bad behavior we've seen is what we believe to be typical cat behavior (scratching the furniture, ruining my miniblinds, etc.), but lately I am having a HUGE problem with the male cat (now 11 mos. old) scratching a toddler that I keep every chance he gets. The toddler was here before the cat, just fyi. Whenever we first got the kitten, the toddler "petted/patted" Breaker kitty a little rough, but I've never seen him pull his tail or anything that would hurt the cat. But the cat will sit up on a shelf taller than the child, and if the child walks by he has the evil meow. If the toddler walks by or in the vicinity of the cat, and the catch swats at him. On two occasions in the past month or so, he has scratched the toddler's face near his eye. Today, the cat was sitting near the child's toy box in my living room, and child did NOTHING to provoke the cat, and the cat lunged at him and tried to scratch him in the face again with both paws and meowing. (no hissing). I have tried keeping the cat in another room separate from the kids, but he claws at the door and carpet (ruined my carpet already) and meows until we let him out. I see my options as re-homing the cat or declawing (which I don't want to do to him). Any suggestions? I haven't had a cat before, and am wondering if there is anything else I can try to redirect and stop this behavior. The cat doesn't do this with anyone else in the house. And I typically have five kids in the house every day. The cats have plenty of places to hide. The sister cat stays in my bedroom until most of the kids go home. She is more anti-social, but I don't have any issues whatsoever with her. Oh, and both cats have been spayed/neutered. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!
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Old July 17th, 2014, 06:44 PM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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First I would Vet the cat. There may be a medical condition prompting his behaviour. Hyperthroidism is one but it still remains peculiar he targets just the one child.

In rare, rare, rare times I think declawing is justified. It will be hard to rehome the male because ethically you will have to disclose your reasons. But of course you should try. I think you should rehome. I hope the cat simply sees the toddler as a walking, catchable playmate but the lunging at him may not be and it's dangerous to your child. And in the time you take to try to train the cat out of this behaviour your child could be injured, in his eyes as I am sure is your biggest worry.

I have a cat who lunges at me and scratches me too. She's a former feral and her timing might be days, months or years apart so very unpredictable. But I can read her pretty well and see when she is getting over stimulated and distract her or move away. A child cannot do that.

If there is no underlying medical reason, or even if there is but treatment does not resolve the problem and you cannot rehome I fear your only options for your child's safety are PTS or declaw. I would certainly choose declaw first. Declawed cats sometimes use their teeth more so it may not help much. And it can make them more aggessive as they realize they are impaired and get their licks in first. The best defense is a good offense so to speak.

I really hope someone else comes along with a better idea for you, but that's all I can come up with. A co-worker of mine was engaged to a man who was afraid her two cats would wreck his expensive furniture. No one would take them, she had them PTS. I wish she had tried declawing. It isn't always a fiasco. Good luck.
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Old July 17th, 2014, 09:14 PM
Barkingdog Barkingdog is offline
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Originally Posted by Longblades View Post
First I would Vet the cat. There may be a medical condition prompting his behaviour. Hyperthroidism is one but it still remains peculiar he targets just the one child.

In rare, rare, rare times I think declawing is justified. It will be hard to rehome the male because ethically you will have to disclose your reasons. But of course you should try. I think you should rehome. I hope the cat simply sees the toddler as a walking, catchable playmate but the lunging at him may not be and it's dangerous to your child. And in the time you take to try to train the cat out of this behaviour your child could be injured, in his eyes as I am sure is your biggest worry.

I have a cat who lunges at me and scratches me too. She's a former feral and her timing might be days, months or years apart so very unpredictable. But I can read her pretty well and see when she is getting over stimulated and distract her or move away. A child cannot do that.

If there is no underlying medical reason, or even if there is but treatment does not resolve the problem and you cannot rehome I fear your only options for your child's safety are PTS or declaw. I would certainly choose declaw first. Declawed cats sometimes use their teeth more so it may not help much. And it can make them more aggessive as they realize they are impaired and get their licks in first. The best defense is a good offense so to speak.

I really hope someone else comes along with a better idea for you, but that's all I can come up with. A co-worker of mine was engaged to a man who was afraid her two cats would wreck his expensive furniture. No one would take them, she had them PTS. I wish she had tried declawing. It isn't always a fiasco. Good luck.

This is what declawing a cat it like. The OP needs to keep the child away from the cat , and maybe try using a spray bottle filled with water and spray the cat if it think of going near the child. I use a spray bottle for a cat and after getting sprayed a few times I just had to pick up the bottle and cat would run. It helps to have a smart cat too.






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Old July 17th, 2014, 09:54 PM
Swhite Swhite is offline
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Thanks for the advice. I really do appreciate it. It helps to know this isn't a common thing. I wouldn't have thought about calling the vet to inquire and visit for that. Probably seems like the obvious answer to most, but we have never had a cat, nor would my parents allow cats as pet when I was a child. Totally clueless. I really hate to declaw him, but I cannot allow that behavior to continue. I knew someone would know more than I do! I expected the furniture/carpet issues with the clawing, just not the issue with the baby.
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Old July 18th, 2014, 09:07 AM
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marko marko is offline
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I have to agree (as I usually do ) with LB's logic here.

The choices here seem limited in this case (rehoming/euthanasia or declawing).

I think in this very rare case (and I say rare because most members on this site, myself included are seriously anti-declawing and pro spay neuter) I would consider declawing. (After I saw a vet to rule out a medical issue)

In terms of biting more after declawing, yup I have seen this in 2 cats that I have known over the years.
Both my cats though are declawed (adopted that way) and do not bite more than clawed cats - so you just never know.
Hope that may help - Good luck!
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  #6  
Old July 18th, 2014, 09:37 AM
Barkingdog Barkingdog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Swhite View Post
Thanks for the advice. I really do appreciate it. It helps to know this isn't a common thing. I wouldn't have thought about calling the vet to inquire and visit for that. Probably seems like the obvious answer to most, but we have never had a cat, nor would my parents allow cats as pet when I was a child. Totally clueless. I really hate to declaw him, but I cannot allow that behavior to continue. I knew someone would know more than I do! I expected the furniture/carpet issues with the clawing, just not the issue with the baby.
Maybe you could call the shelter and try to find out why the kittens where given away . If the male kitten has a history of scratching you should had been told about it. It would be kinder to see if the shelter will take the kitten back and try to find him a more suitable home where there no are kids
instead of getting him declawed . I am not sure where you got the kittens from but I hope it was not a no kill shelter , they would put him to sleep .
I had a male cat that picked my daughter but she was old enough to protect herself. It was strange ,but the cat would wait for her to go downstairs and he would try to scratch her, it was as if he was being a mean brother to his sister. My female cat did not go after my daughter.
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Old July 20th, 2014, 09:10 PM
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sugarcatmom sugarcatmom is offline
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Hi Swhite,

What are your kitties name?

Are you able to trim their claws at all? That would be my first recommendation. If you need some instruction on ways to do it, let us know. The vet can also help with regular trimming or can show you how.

How much active play-time do you give your cats? Regular sessions where you give them a good run around the house with fishing-rod style toys (Neko Flies or Da Bird are great for this) can go a long way towards calming unwanted behaviours. Cats "in the wild" would be covering a lot of ground each day hunting for food and are hugely stimulated mentally. When confined indoors, all this pent-up energy has nowhere productive to go and can frequently result in a cat "acting out".

Lastly, try to encourage some positive associations between the cat and child. Which means please do not start using a spray-bottle on him, as that will only reinforce a negative association and could backfire (i.e. make the behaviour worse). Instead, give him a highly desirable treat when he's in the vicinity of the child, and only then. Research clicker-training for cats as well.

Some links for you to check out:

http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com...ips-with-cats/
http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com...t-should-know/
http://www.catbehaviorassociates.com...cat-play-time/

And PLEASE don't declaw. Rehoming would be kinder.
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Old July 21st, 2014, 06:58 AM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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Oh, such good ideas Sugarcat mom, wish I'd thought to put them down.

I just want to really strongly echo the play idea. I have a stray mother cat, she's young, and still have two of her four kittens. These little devils would play for hours if I could manage it. They play by themselves but are so active when I engage with them. I think a lot of people believe cats just sleep all day but cats can take, and some need, highly active running, leaping and jumping with you for 20 minutes at a time a couple of times a day.

Another idea. Give the male cat a big stuffed toy he can wrestle with, dig his claws into and fake kill as if it was prey. You start him on it by playing a bit rough with him, push him around a bit till he comes back at it. You hide the toy so he doesn't get used to it, bring it out once a day, maybe more at first so he can practice his natural urge to take down prey. Might get him to target the toy instead of the toddler.
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Old July 21st, 2014, 10:29 AM
Barkingdog Barkingdog is offline
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Originally Posted by Longblades View Post
Oh, such good ideas Sugarcat mom, wish I'd thought to put them down.

I just want to really strongly echo the play idea. I have a stray mother cat, she's young, and still have two of her four kittens. These little devils would play for hours if I could manage it. They play by themselves but are so active when I engage with them. I think a lot of people believe cats just sleep all day but cats can take, and some need, highly active running, leaping and jumping with you for 20 minutes at a time a couple of times a day.

Another idea. Give the male cat a big stuffed toy he can wrestle with, dig his claws into and fake kill as if it was prey. You start him on it by playing a bit rough with him, push him around a bit till he comes back at it. You hide the toy so he doesn't get used to it, bring it out once a day, maybe more at first so he can practice his natural urge to take down prey. Might get him to target the toy instead of the toddler.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/like/271427796880?lpid=82


This toy looks like fun for a cat. The mouse move around
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Old July 21st, 2014, 02:50 PM
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14+kitties 14+kitties is offline
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Great advice SCM. Only thing I would add is to try the Soft Paws. They are plastic sheaths that go over the cat's claws and they can't scratch. They are available at most pet stores. The vet can show you how to put them on the first time if you need assistance.
Please do not declaw. It can cause a lifetime of pain and changes the very way the cat walks. It also can lead to bad behaviour such as biting (taking away their main defence makes them find another) and urinating outside of their box.
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Old July 23rd, 2014, 11:50 AM
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Dog Dancer Dog Dancer is offline
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I had two cats that were declawed years ago, and have to say they were perfectly normal cats. Still swatted and scratched at stuff and did not walk funny. Would I do it again now, no I would not. It can also be very hard to find a vet who will declaw a cat now too.

This situation sounds like you are running a day care and the child is not yours, so you also have liability issues to consider if anything serious were to happen. I'd use extreme care here.

You've got lots of good advice so far. The only thing I can add, and I haven't seen anyone mention it and I only just saw something about it a while ago, is something called a tendonectomy (or something like that) Rather than actually removing the toe / claw they snip the tendons so that the can't extend the claws. I have to admit I have no clue as to how it compares to declawing, but would look into it if all other options fail.

Just trimming the cat's claws and more active/stimulating play may be all you need. Good luck to you.
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Old July 23rd, 2014, 12:43 PM
Barkingdog Barkingdog is offline
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I had two cats that were declawed years ago, and have to say they were perfectly normal cats. Still swatted and scratched at stuff and did not walk funny. Would I do it again now, no I would not. It can also be very hard to find a vet who will declaw a cat now too.

This situation sounds like you are running a day care and the child is not yours, so you also have liability issues to consider if anything serious were to happen. I'd use extreme care here.

You've got lots of good advice so far. The only thing I can add, and I haven't seen anyone mention it and I only just saw something about it a while ago, is something called a tendonectomy (or something like that) Rather than actually removing the toe / claw they snip the tendons so that the can't extend the claws. I have to admit I have no clue as to how it compares to declawing, but would look into it if all other options fail.

Just trimming the cat's claws and more active/stimulating play may be all you need. Good luck to you.
http://janeanimalhospital.ca/educati...donectomy.html





This web site said tendonectomy is a bad idea if pet owners are not able to trim their cats claws every 2 weeks. I was wondering about that and looked tendonectomy up. The OP will have made sure the cat never get outside b/c it will have no way to defend itself .
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Old July 24th, 2014, 07:36 AM
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sugarcatmom sugarcatmom is offline
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As Barkingdog mentioned, a tendonectomy would not be a good idea. Here's what The Paw Project has to say:
Tendonectomy or Tenectomy is a procedure in which the tendons in the toes are severed. The cat still has its claws, but is unable to control them. This procedure does not necessarily protect people from being scratched, and it is associated with a high incidence of abnormal claw growth and muscle atrophy. In a 1998 JAVMA article, Jankowski, et al., concluded that "owners should be aware of the high complication rate for both [tendonectomy and declawing] procedures and of the need for constant trimming of claws of cats that have undergone tenectomy."

Jankowski also reported that 55% of the cats having tendonectomy were still able to scratch with their claws to some degree, and that 10% of the cat's owners had the cats declawed after the tendonectomy procedure for this reason.

In March 2003, the AVMA stated that tendonectomy is "not recommended."
Dr. Wendy Feaga, a Maryland veterinarian, wrote in Veterinary Medicine (May 1998), regarding tendonectomy, "I hope this cruel practice is stopped immediately." She describes a post-tendonectomized cat that "had badly arthritic toes and did not move around comfortably. The toenails were thick and disfigured, and the toes were painful on palpation. I was horrified."

Robert Goldman, DVM, says, "Veterinarians who recommend tendonectomy for cats will tell their clients that they have to trim the cat's claws at least every week. If the client is going to have to trim the nails every week, why not just trim the nails and avoid the tendonectomy procedure all together?"
Also, whenever I hear someone say their cat was declawed and is fine, I want to tell them about some of the absolutely heartbreaking stories from the other side of the coin. There are many cases where the cats *aren't* fine, where they suffer terribly for the rest of their lives, their owners living with extreme guilt for what they've done to them. Why would anyone want to even take that chance? Why don't we pretend that declawing isn't even an option, like in so many other countries where they also have kids and cats living together?
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Old July 24th, 2014, 01:33 PM
Barkingdog Barkingdog is offline
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http://www.treehouseanimals.org/site...ats_need_claws



I found this web site to be good info to why cats needs their claws .
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