We have a 10-month old baby and two cats. One cat is very friendly and the other aloof. We have had cats longer than baby.

Our daughter can now crawl and pick objects up--so she is eager to engage with cats. Naturally, the cats are not, but we have had few issues with safety for either (she has been swatted once or twice and cats have endured excessive fur pulling).

We don't want our daughter to fear the cats, but to learn how to appropriately handle them--ie, not pull fur or tail or whiskers. We've been demonstrating that and she seems to occasionally be gentle, but not usually.

How do we encourage her to engage with the cats well (without causing them discomfort and leading to them lashing out), so that neither her nor cats experience harm?

2 Answers 2


The trick in my experience is carefully monitoring and assisting in the interaction to keep everyone safe and calm.

I've done this with my niece and currently with my little one. I will sit with the child and hold their hands and help them pet the cat. I make sure the baby isn't getting grabby and keep hands away from certain parts of the cat (tail, face, etc.) If either the child or the cat is getting to excited or agitated I will separate them and let them calm down before trying again. Doing this in moderation lets the baby and the cat get used to the interaction.

You can also teach the idea of "being soft" to the baby. I've usually repeated that phrase while helping them pet and while demonstrating petting the cat. At this age it mostly helps to associate being nice to the cat with that phrase but it helps later with reminding them to be gentle when interacting with animals / others.


I agree with what Becuzz has stated. You could start by modeling how to interact with the cats. I did this with my daughter and our dogs. Be gentle with the animals and talk about how they are such good boys/girls. When the cats show that they are no longer interested in getting human attention, talk about it out loud. "Kitty needs her/his space!" "bye bye kitty!" Of course continue to monitor all of the interactions as children and animals can be unpredictable.

  • The last sentence. ALWAYS monitor child/pet interactions, until the children are pretty old. Dogs in particular can be a real and deadly threat, this only gets much worse if there are multiple children some of them not from the dogs family.
    – DRF
    Apr 29, 2021 at 12:46

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