There are lots of videos out there showing the touching relationships between babies and cats. YouTube is filled with cats acting like the perfect parents or siblings by cuddling up with babies or rocking them to sleep.
If you’ve seen these, it can be incredibly concerning if your cat keeps attacking your baby, and it might make you question if you’re doing something wrong.
It’s also extremely worrying as it’ll leave you scared to leave your baby alone with your cat in the room.
The first thing you need to do is determine why your cat is attacking your baby.
Why Do Cats Attack Babies
There are several reasons that a cat might attack a baby, and it’s worth investigating each to make sure you get to the bottom of the problem.
Certain cat breeds are naturally more aggressive than others. Tortoiseshell cats, for example, are known for being aggressive, and pedigree cats such as Manx or Maine Coon are fairly anti-social, as cats go.
If you know that your cat doesn’t really love people anyway (not that any cat really loves their human as much as a dog would), then it’s possibly just their nature to be aggressive towards something they’re unsure of.
It’s a defense mechanism, and they’ll probably get used to it as they spend more time with your baby.
It might not be the cat that’s the problem. If your baby is getting to toddler age, they’ll be naturally curious about the world around them. If an animal approaches with a large fluffy tail, it just looks like a toy.
Babies tend to reach out and grab tails, and understandably, your cat might not like it and lash out.
Yes, cats actually get jealous of babies as they think that they’re no longer important. Cats are notoriously high maintenance.
They like their food to be provided at a particular time and in a certain way each morning. If you start being late because your baby needs feeding, they take that as a personal insult.
That’s not to say that your cat will maliciously go out of their way to harm your baby, but if they’re already frustrated and your baby upsets them in some way, they’re already on a short thread and might lash out more than normal.
Toys for babies and toys for cats can actually be quite similar. Cats love things with fur that dangle down. This poses a problem if your baby is playing on a play mat and your cat wants to join in.
It might not be that your cat means to attack your baby, perhaps they were just trying to play, and it got a little out of hand.
What To Do If Your Cat Attacks Your Baby
If you’re noticing some hostility or have actually witnessed your cat attacking your baby, you’re going to need to take some immediate action.
Distance Your Cat
Step one is to distance your cat immediately. As we’ve said, it might be that your cat will be fine as your baby gets older; it’s just a little overwhelming for them right now.
You’ll need to go through a stage of separating the baby from the cat while you’re not in the room.
Ensure you use a baby monitor and shut the door while your baby is sleeping to ensure your cat can’t wander in and make sure your cat isn’t around if your baby is playing on the floor.
Keeping your cat separate is only a short-term solution. Your cat and your baby still need to live together, after all. You’ll need to try and improve the relationship gradually over time.
Try to sit with your baby while your cat’s in the room and encourage your cat to be inquisitive.
If you notice any light tail flicking, hissing, or standoffish behavior, lift your baby away from the situation.
You’ll need to repeat this as often as possible until your cat gets used to the extra tiny human in your house.
Check For Wounds
If you see your cat being aggressive towards your baby, you’ll need to immediately remove your cat from the situation and check your baby for wounds. Normally, a cat’s first defense mechanism is to scratch.
Hopefully, if it’s the first occasion, your cat will scratch and run, so there might not be too much damage done.
Most cat’s scratches aren’t overly deep. The scratches are most likely to be on your baby’s arms or legs.
Make sure you thoroughly wash out any cuts that your baby has sustained. Use warm, soapy water to dab away any residue and a mild antiseptic cream to ensure there’s no infection.
Keep any cuts uncovered to allow a scab to form as quickly as possible. You may need to use scratch mitts on your baby for a few days to prevent them from pulling off the scab.
If they have any cuts on their face or near their eyes, it may be worth a trip to the doctor to make sure no more serious damage has been done.
Once you’ve resolved the immediate problem, you’ll need to identify exactly what caused it to prevent any future occurrences. Look at your cat’s behavior when they’re around your baby.
Was it an accident because they got a little too playful? Was it an attack caused by your baby’s behavior? Or was it a malicious attack?
What To Do If Your Cat Keeps Attacking Your Baby
If Your Cat Is/Was Excited
If your cat just got a little over-excited because they have a new playmate (bearing in mind that they play with their littermates much more aggressively than a human baby can handle), then it’s possibly a one-off.
Perhaps your baby is just a little too young to play with your kitten right now, and the problem will resolve itself over time.
If Your Baby Is Rough
If your baby is a little too rough with your cat – although they’re trying to be friendly, they don’t really understand how to pet animals just yet – then it might be a case of teaching your baby how to interact with the cat.
Use their hand in yours to gradually stroke the cat, and your baby will follow your lead. Be patient; this won’t change overnight.
If Your Cat Is Hostile
If your cat constantly shows hostility toward your baby, it may mean more severe damage control.
Parents tend to be overly protective of their baby (understandably) and start to chase the cat away as soon as it comes near.
That’s the wrong approach as your cat will begin to associate your baby with something negative and will start to resent your baby. It’ll develop into a long-term unhealthy relationship.
Instead, make sure you foster a bond between your baby and your cat by making the experience positive for your cat. Sit your baby on your knee and reward your cat with a treat at arm’s length.
Gradually move your cat closer over a period of a few weeks. They’ll start to realize that being around your baby gets them a nice piece of chicken.
When your baby is old enough, teach them to treat your cat. Their bond will increase over time, and soon you’ll never know there was a problem.