Cats Vs Toddlers – The Rules For a Happy Home

Now we have a toddler there are definitely new rules that have to apply with regard to the cats

Playtime together - Cats vs toddlers
Having Fun Together

Recently the toddler has taken more of an interest in the kitties, unfortunately the little monster is loud and annoying which means that he is not always their favorite person and there need to be boundaries. I want them to have a great bond but at the same time the toddler and kitties both need their space.

If cats get stressed or feel they have no space they can lash out and become aggressive which is something we definitely want to avoid. Luckily most of this is preventative and so I thought we would write about the rules we have for the toddler (and the cats) to lead to a harmonious (the only harmony we get in this house) relationship between them.

I try not to interfere as much so that they learn to have their own relationship and navigate the workings themselves but I have set some rules for them both

Rules for the Toddlers:

  1. No pulling tails – or any other feline body parts – this is pretty obvious
  2. No Trapping – Cats like to have an escape route and can feel threatened and lash out if they are cornered so if there is a kitty and toddler in the room, a door or window stays open.
  3. If the cats walk away, leave them – Walking away is a sign that they have had enough and they need to have the freedom to have that respected
  4. When kitties are eating, leave the kitchen – Cats who don’t feel safe while eating will usually find a food source elsewhere which is the fastest way to them finding a new home!
  5. Don’t make them jump – It might be funny in the videos and you can’t help accidentally doing it (cats can be pretty jumpy anyways) but doing it frequently stresses them out and can lead to aggressive behaviors and other tendencies such as chewing on themselves.
  6. Help with their upkeep – From the beginning the toddler was expected to help look after his kitty friends in some way – now he helps brush them and feed them at feeding time so that he gets a sense of responsibility and understands they are not just playthings, you have to take care of them.

Hanging out together cats vs toddlersSo here’s one you might not agree with:

Letting the toddler get scratched – now here’s my reasoning, I am not actively going out of my way to get my little chap scratched by the cat and I ensure that I pay attention to the mood of the cats BUT (and here it is) if Toddler wants to ignore the rules and pull a tail and be aggressive towards them he needs to understand that there are consequences. It happened once – and only once, and before you start calling social services it was minuscule –  but it did make him jump and it did the trick. After continually winding them up and being rough with them (despite my explaining and telling him not too) the cat taught him why you don’t behave in that way, and since then he has had a lot more respect for them, which is something I definitely want him to understand.

More Playtime - Cats Vs toddlersRules for the Kitties:

  1. No eating from plates – Aside from the dribble and Toddler diseases, the food thing works both ways, the toddler doesn’t need begging kitties while he’s trying to eat, he wants to be left alone!
  2. It’s Toddlers choice when it comes to his bedroom – It’s his room, his rules and he needs his space too, if he doesn’t want you in there he is allowed to kick you out (it doesn’t happen very often)
  3. Toddlers pillow is off limits – They are allowed on his bed now that he is a bit older but he doesn’t need a hairy pillow and breathing in all of their fluff!
  4. Must tolerate at least two minutes of “patting” – At the moment the toddler has been struggling the concept of “stroking” them and it has turned into more of a pat so they have to deal with it – love is love!

These are some of the ways we keep a great kitty atmosphere to avoid stress for cats and toddlers. Ultimately they are the best of friends who love playing together, and they will grow up together which is all I could ever ask for – even if Toddler shouts in their faces every now and again he still gets furry friends for life!

Cats VS Toddlers - Love of the cat - Charles Dickens Quote

What rules do you have for your cats and toddlers?

Rules for the Cats - Cats vs Toddlers - how we keep harmony in the house and help them form bonds
Rules for the Toddlers - Cats vs Toddlers - how we keep harmony in the house and help them form bonds

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Written by Charlotte

Founder at The Mummy Toolbox


  • chickenruby (#)
    April 6th, 2016

    Rules for teens also, the teen is currently home for the holidays and we hardly see the cat, she has been traumatised

  • Laura (#)
    April 6th, 2016

    We dont have a cat but do have a dog and all of the older 3 kids have been fine with her but the youngest one, now 2 is a bit of a terror. She still sits on her, pulls her ears, whacks her with toys. Its a struggle to get her to be gentle.
    PS shes not being mean she is just generally a very rough kid!

  • Rosie @greenrosielife (#)
    April 5th, 2016

    Rules are definitely needed on both sides and a great way of teaching toddlers respect for other living things. AS for getting scratched it is the one way they will learn when words and other actions fail. Many thanks for adding th is to #AnimalTales
    PS – did you see there is no linky next week?

    • Charlotte (#)
      April 6th, 2016

      yes I saw, when it’s back could you tag me on twitter so I don’t miss it?? 🙂 xx Thanks for commenting

  • Cathy (MummyTravels) (#)
    April 5th, 2016

    Great rules – I would have loved a cat but am allergic sadly. And I think toddlers definitely need to learn the concept of consequences (safely, obviously), it’s the best lesson of all. And the consequences of tail pulling are pretty straightforward!

  • Erica Price (#)
    April 5th, 2016

    We didn’t have quite such set rules, but effectively we followed something similar and have very few issues with our cat/child relationship.

  • amy valle (#)
    March 25th, 2016

    haha, this is awesome. I have a cat but no kids yet. i’ve never really thought about trying to manage both! sounds like you’ve come up with some great rules.

  • CourtneyLynne (#)
    March 24th, 2016

    Omg lol….. My daughter and one of our cats are best friends! Poor cat omg… She literally drags the thing around and she just lets her… The other cat however stays far away from my toddler lol

  • jill conyers (#)
    March 24th, 2016

    We’ve never had cats or any other pet. Great tips for anyone with both toddlers and cats.

  • karissa (#)
    March 24th, 2016

    Great advice. My daughter has always gotten along great with our cats. One of them likes her a lot more than he likes me.

  • Eva / Kid Minds (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    I remember checking out Tails are not for Pulling from the library at some point. Who can resist a nice fluffy tails sailing in front of your eyes?

  • Fatima (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    Having a pet does wonders for kids. It not only exposes them to certain germs at a young age, but it teaches them to love animals.

  • Becca (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    We have THREE cats with our first child on the way, so this is really helpful advice! I completely agree with getting scratched. Dogs can be trained not to bite, but cats keep this defense, and you can’t really train them not to, so kids need to learn that an angry cat just might scratch!

  • Jenni (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    These are great rules. We don’t have any pets but we would like to get one when Lucas is older x

  • Nikka Shae (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    When my little girl was smaller I had similar rules as well. She would love to hold the kitty all the time too!!

  • tp keane (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    Great post. It’s often hard for pets to adjust to a first kid and you want it to go smoothly.

  • Marie (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    My hubby and little one are allergic to cats so we dont have any, I grew up always having cats and dogs, i remember the cats would put up.witj a few tail pulls from.the younger ones where as the dogs would go and hide 🙂

  • Candi (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    Our cats are just like our kids and each cat has a different personality just like our kids do.

  • Debra (#)
    March 23rd, 2016

    We don’t have a cat, we have a dog, and my toddler and the dog love each other and I am really grateful for it!

  • Beeb Ashcroft (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    Such a responsible way of handling things! Most people don’t pay attention to both the toddler and the animal’s needs. Both are important for safety all around.

  • Kait (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    I love that you have rules for both the toddlers AND the cats! I’m highly allergic, but cats are super cute!

  • Skye (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    We don’t have a cat but a lot of these same rules apply with our dog! Rebel (the dog) has turned out to be much more tolerant of our toddler than we could have ever imagined!

  • Mariah (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    Cats are a great family pet! It can get interesting, but more often than not they tolerate things very well!

  • (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    It’s so important that they (both) have rules! For kids especially to know how to treat their pet the right way and be able to enjoy it! great tips Charlotte!!!

  • Tara (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    Thank you for these tips. We have two toddlers and two cats. My boys like the cats, but as you say they are loud and scare away my cats. We have been teaching them to be quieter when they approach the cats and to use gentle hands. They are usually able to get in one pet, but that’s it. We tried having them play together, but then my boys start throwing objects AT them instead of near them. I’m thinking another year when they are a bit older.

  • Zena's Suitcase (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    Pets and children can be a great thing, but there is a phase where it doesn’t quite go so well. It’s a learning curve and these are great rules to put in place

  • Baby Isabella (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    We’re quite fortunate that our cat stays away from me and I’m not that interested in him either… However it is a shame as my mummy would like a better toddler / cat bond X

  • Heather lawrence (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    When we had cats we let the kids and the critters figure out their own little existence. I never realized how long we have had with no cats until I watched my daughter trying to pick up a cat the wrong way. LOL!!

  • Rachel (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    I agree with your reasoning for scratching, it works for both the child and the cat to learn each others boundaries, same for cat on cat territory marking x

  • Ana De- Jesus (#)
    March 22nd, 2016

    Cats love to play and they will scratch if they get annoyed, competitive or even happy. Those kitties are cheeky.

  • Kara (#)
    March 21st, 2016

    If I’m honest my cats give the kids a wide berth. Ours are not allowed upstairs so that gets the pillow thing out the way. I think all mine have been scratched at one point, they have to learn!

  • A Moment with Franca (#)
    March 21st, 2016

    Great advice Charlotte! I have to be behind my girls to be sure they won’t annoy the cat. My eldest daughter now is fine as she understands but the little one is now the problem. My poor cat is not well. He has been like that since January. He has a kidney problem. He is having a new food that was recommended by the vet but even though he has improved a little bit it is still not enough, 🙁

  • Daniel Borley (#)
    March 21st, 2016

    I am totally with you on the “if you get scratched, it’s your own fault” thing. You can only warn kids so many times!

  • Cathy Glynn (#)
    March 21st, 2016

    Some great tips, our cat is not a friendly cat and Grace tends to keep well away from him when he is in one of his moods x

  • Dean of Little Steps (#)
    March 21st, 2016

    Love the photos, so cute. We got Boots, my daughter’s cat when she was about two. To be fair, in spite the tail pulling and forced cuddling, my daughter came away with only a few scratches. That’s why I’m very fond of that cat, she has immense patience for T 🙂 x

  • Tall Mum in Manchester (#)
    March 21st, 2016

    Great advice here. I have 2 kitties & a baby on the way. One in particular has a tendency to be super loving then reward you with a scratch & a hiss so I do worry about how she’ll be with the Pea. That said, I agree with you that the cat is the best teacher of where the boundaries lie. You can protect children from everything but how does that help them understand why certain things are not a good idea. I like that you have rules both ways, cats do tend to rule the roost but they do respond to consistent boundaries – most of the time!

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