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Any ideas on how to teach a 3 year old to be gentle with kittens?

We recently adopted 2, 6 week old kittens. They are now 8 weeks old and really want to explore our house, however, my 3 yr old son is a little rough with them. The first 2 weeks were ok as we would keep the kittens in our room and lock the door, we did that so they could get used to the smells and noises of the house without being tossed in unprepared (recommended by vet), but we cant do that now because they cry and scratch the door to get out. Whenever my son picks them up we tell him to be gentle, because they are babies, but it has gotten to the point where now, we just walk up to him and take the kitten out of his hands and walk away, but that is still not working. Some have said to get rid of the kittens until he is older, but I dont want to send them back to the pound when we can give them a good home. I would feel too bad. Any Ideas??????

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Asked by sn654 at 1:47 PM on Jun. 12, 2009 in Pets

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Answers (7)
  • take his hand and show him how to pet the kitty saying "gentle" at the same time. Say you can pet gently and make sure that your always there when he's around the kittnes. It may be a hassle but its worth it in the long run. thats really all I can think of, sorry

    Answer by Precious333 at 1:54 PM on Jun. 12, 2009

  • Once the kittens give him a good swipe with a paw, he'll probably learn to keep his distance. That's how my two year old learned. That and lots of redirection.

    Good luck!

    *keep a tube of neosporin in your cabinet - it's inevitable....................

    Answer by Anonymous at 2:33 PM on Jun. 12, 2009

  • We have guinea pigs and a two year old and run into similar issues (perhaps a bit easier for us because they are in a cage- though she can and has opened the cage to get at them.) We make sure she is supervised really closely when she is with the piggies- she needs to be sitting and I am within arms' reach so I can grab her if she goes to smack them. We take her hand and stroke the piggies and say "Gentle!" She does have a better understanding of patting gentle, but we still are within arms' length because if she gets distracted she will sometimes just get up and run away, basically 'dumping' the animal onto the floor. The good thing with kittens is that they are better able to 'fight back' by scratching, hissing, etc.- eventually they will let him know when they are not happy. And when the novelty wears off he may be less grabby with them as well.

    Answer by Freela at 8:04 PM on Jun. 12, 2009

  • Just continue monitoring your son with the kittens. There isn't much you can do until the kitties get to be about 16 weeks and can defend themselves better. I would definitely not get rid of them just because your son is a little rough with them. I know this is sad, but my cousin killed one of the 6 week old kittens we had but only because we were not watching him with the kittiens and he was holding it by the neck. All you can do is show him how to pet kitties and monitor him with them. In a matter of no time the kittens will be strong enough and quick enough to defend themselves.

    Answer by danyle02 at 2:02 PM on Jun. 13, 2009

  • We tell our 14 month old "gentle" and supervise her interactions with her grandparents' cat. The cats also need a place they can go that is offlimits to your son in case they get stressed. We don't let her touch their faces and we give her lots of positive feedback when she's gentle. And we really don't have issues with it now.

    Answer by mrs_pulley at 8:45 PM on Jun. 13, 2009

  • -Have a "kitten only zone" where the child is not allowed to bother the kittens. Explain that this is like the kittens' "bedroom" so they can sleep and relax.

    -Do not let your child pick up the kittens. At all. Too many sad accidents and injuries happen this way (have you seen toddlers pick animals up by the neck/tail/one leg?)

    -Toddler should not be allowed to touch the kittens' faces.

    -Supervision is a must, at least until the cats get older and can spring free and defend themselves.

    Answer by Mousuke at 9:46 PM on Jun. 24, 2009

  • Sit him on the floor or couch and gently set a kitten on his lap and "help" him pet the kitten by holding onto his hand and petting the kitten's back. Tell him stuff like "Nice Kitty" and "Be Nice to Kitty", if he gets rough with them, change your tone of voice to a more urgent tone and say something like "Kitty Sad. That hurt kitty" and eventually he will learn what makes the kittens "happy" or "sad"

    Answer by MrsTMorgan at 5:11 AM on Jun. 27, 2009

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