My son has been harassing the cat since he was old enough to crawl and the cat, bless his evil cat soul, has been very VERY patient. Until now.
I think it’s important for children to interact with animals. It teaches them empathy and boundaries and responsibility. Or so I hope? I have a cousin who has very little experience with animals and without really meaning to, he’s always pissing off my cat and my mother-in-law’s dog. I’ve been trying to teach him the basics, like never to mess with an animal’s food or not to stare a cat in the eye but he just doesn’t get it. Whenever he’s near my cat now, he blinks nonstop. He’s 9. He’s… not too bright.
I wanted things with my son to be different so I always let my cats sniff him and let him touch them. But my surviving cat (the other passed last year) is a rescue with an unknown history of suspected abuse. He’s skittish and well, paranoid. But up until yesterday, he let the kid touch his nose and ears and tail. Yesterday, the kid pulled the tail and grabbed the paw and the cat had had enough.
Today, the child has several little scratches along his arm. They’re not deep or long or bad at all. They’re nothing compared to the nightly love scratches I get from not snuggling properly or patting long enough. But they look scary on your baby regardless. Blood coming out of your child, no matter how little, still feels traumatic.
But you don’t pull the kitty’s tail. You don’t try to touch his eyeballs. You don’t take his food away from him. And you don’t chase him, screaming “BAAAHBAAAAAAAH!” without incident.
Lesson learned, my boy? No? You’re still very interested in his eyeballs. *sigh* I guess we’ll have to stay on top of this lesson.