Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I got a cat about three months ago for my 19-month-old daughter. My daughter and the cat have bonded very, very well. My child is rambunctious and the cat (male who has not been fixed) is about the same. They run after each other. My daughter messes with him, he pounces on her back. Nothing at all aggressive. My daughter giggles. He’ll try and bite on her feet legs and hands but playfully. However, I correct it. Nothing that seems out of the ordinary, until my daughter goes down for either a nap and or goes to bed for the night, that is. I don’t know why, but every time she does, he goes upstairs to her closed door and cries and howls. I have to keep him downstairs, because if she hears him she will wake up. Why is my cat doing this? I don’t understand. Can you maybe give me an explanation?

~ Jocelyn

Thomas: Jocelyn, it’s so sweet that you got a cat for your daughter! It’s really important for kids to grow up with animals. It teaches them compassion and understanding for creatures that aren’t like them.

Bella: And as you can already tell, your daughter and your cat have bonded very closely.

Tara: We’re glad to hear you’re correcting the biting and scratching behavior, because that’s not going to be cute for very long! We assume you’re doing things like distracting him when he starts acting like he’s about to get mouthy. A fishing-pole toy is a great distraction because it’ll help your kitten get his hunting instincts out!

Thomas: Now, on to the cat howling at the door thing. We think he may be crying at your daughter’s door because he misses her and wants to be with her.

Bella: If they’re really close, that would make sense.

Tara: We’d recommend that you see what happens if you leave your daughter’s door open a little bit. He may just go into her room and nap with her instead of howling!

Thomas: We’re sure you don’t believe any of those old wives’ tales about cats stealing babies’ breath and so on. Besides, at 19 months, your daughter is probably big enough to sleep safely with a cat.

Bella: She might even sleep better during her naps with “her” cat nearby.

Tara: You can always look in on your daughter and your cat from time to time while she’s napping and make sure everything is okay.

Thomas: If you’re not okay with doing that, we totally understand. Maybe you can distract him from howling and crying by playing with him or sitting with him while she’s down for a nap.

Bella: Now, about that neutering thing. Your kitty is definitely old enough to be neutered, so you might want to get that taken care of.

Tara: We imagine that with a young child, finances might be kind of tight. The good news is that if you live in the U.S., there are low-cost spay/neuter clinics in every state. We’d recommend contacting local shelters to see if they know of any in your area.

Thomas: The ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States also have lists of low-cost spay/neuter programs throughout the country. SpayUSA can also make referrals to vets or low-cost spay/neuter services in your area.

Bella: For an unfixed cat, howling is a natural behavior. If you have him neutered, the behavior might stop or be greatly reduced.

Tara: We hope this helps you understand why your cat is howling at your daughter’s door and gives you some tools to deal with the behavior.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you had to deal with a howling, crying cat? What did you do about it? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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