Surprisingly little bloodshed occurs 🐱👶🏻
August 12, 2018 10:16 PM   Subscribe

Cats can be remarkably tolerant of babies, allowing the tiny humans to play with them and laugh at them. They will even protect them. (Cats and babies previously)
posted by Johnny Wallflower (32 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Here's the Facebook post that inspired this one.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:17 PM on August 12, 2018

Wait... I thought you were restricted to dogs unless there was direct citations. I'm confused. My dogs are confused and wondering why dad is confused.

This, this is not right, sir.

(Also, I do think it's interesting how our critters instinctively know to protect the big hairless grubs)
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:01 PM on August 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

They are good cats, Bront.
posted by vrakatar at 11:49 PM on August 12, 2018 [7 favorites]

He protec. But he also attac.
posted by greermahoney at 11:51 PM on August 12, 2018 [19 favorites]

You left out the best cat defending kid incident!
posted by tavella at 12:33 AM on August 13, 2018 [10 favorites]

Yes, my fine little feline friends.

My mother had a black cat named Mannix at the time I was born. Mannix immediately started sleeping with or near me.

To the surprise of no first words were "kitty" and "cat."

(My mother lacked imagination when naming cats. We had a long series of cats named after tv characters. Mannix, Huggy Bear, Angel, Re-Run, Remington.)
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 1:16 AM on August 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

I wonder if this propensity to hop in beside sleeping infants is behind the folklore of cats stealing their breath?
posted by GallonOfAlan at 1:30 AM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

"my hands are made for grabbing"

"well, my hands are made for swatting"
posted by idiopath at 1:53 AM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

My son's first word was gato, despite the fact that our cat really did not tolerate him when he was a baby. Five years later I think the cat is still waiting for this terrible house guest to leave.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 4:22 AM on August 13, 2018 [17 favorites]

We have a picture of our son Dan surrounded by kittens when he was about 4 months old. Yes, he still loves cats.
posted by mermayd at 4:38 AM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

I feel like maybe I've deprived my kitties of their own baby to play with. Are they missing out on a full life? And what is that ball machine thing called? We want one.

The one with the Birman sitting in the cot with the wriggly baby was so cute. Early training for when the cat stands on you, you let the cat stand on you even when it's like the most painful trigger point massage ever "Hey kiddo, I have my paws on you, that means you keep those legs still!"
posted by kitten magic at 4:48 AM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

My understanding is that cats, being cats, make for the warmest place in a room to sleep, and in the days when houses were less well heated this might be a baby, which could probably give rise to unkind stories about them stealing babies' breath.

It is fascinating how animals (mammals anyway) can recognise the young of another species as young, rather than prey. though.
posted by Fuchsoid at 6:07 AM on August 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

My daughter's first word was "Meow." She was having breakfast in her high chair and one of the cats was perched on the windowsill next to her, looking at birds. I said, "Sophie, where's the kitty?" expecting her to point at the cat. Instead, she looked at the cat and said "Meow."

She's going to college in a week to study biology/animal behavior in her dream of becoming a conservationist/head keeper at a zoo.
posted by cooker girl at 6:24 AM on August 13, 2018 [23 favorites]

There is a famous family story about our first Siamese cat swatting at my mother while she attempted to bathe a cranky toddler me. Apparently I was putting up such a fuss that the cat was alarmed enough to confront my mother about it, with claws. The fact that water was involved probably cemented the thought that yes, this child is being tortured, I will not stand for such abuse!

(I was not being tortured, but I love all cats to this day).
posted by some loser at 7:19 AM on August 13, 2018 [13 favorites]

I feel like cats get such a smear campaign about toxoplasmosis or being opportunistic. Or the idea that cat meows 'manipulatively' mimic baby cries. Cats are selectively social animals that can be become fiercely protective of their family and especially their young. Why wouldn't they communicate like babies. How come dogs get to be "so smart" and also "too dumb to be manipulative," while cats are conniving?

Anyone who hangs out with both babies and cats realizes that they have pretty much the same interests and skillset, plus or minus a few sharp edges.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:11 AM on August 13, 2018 [7 favorites]

Our little cat has started hanging out with our tiny human. She liked walking around on my partner's belly and saying hi to the tiny human, so in some way it's not surprising that they're becoming friends.

Our big cat, on the other hand, has started hiding under the bed. (I'm honestly not sure if this is due to the baby or due to noise from some poorly-timed renovations that started a few days after our tiny human came home.)

They both run away when the tiny human starts crying, but I don't blame them. I'd do the same if she weren't my tiny human.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:21 AM on August 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

My parents had a Siamese when I was a baby, and they diligently tried to keep her out of the nursery but she was both determined and sneaky and they were sleep-deprived, and every time they went in to get me the cat was in the bassinet with me, curled up against me, popping her head up like a meerkat to inspect the intruders. When someone who WASN'T my parents tried to get me, she'd set up an unholy racket to alert my parents to the baby-thief(/grandmother). And if I started fussing and nobody immediately appeared, she'd trot off to find an adult and yowl until they came to get me.

My cat likes to go on inspection tours with me when I check on all the kids before I go to bed. She trots with me into the boys' room, hops up to the top bunk, sniffs Micro McGee while I eyeball him, then jumps down to the bottom bunk and sniffs Mini McGee while I check on him. Then we go check on Nano McGee in her crib. And then she goes into the bathroom and meows until I brush my teeth because she's the dental police because for some reason she LOVES it when I brush my teeth. Only me. Nobody else gets the feline dental police freaking out if they don't brush.

And then she bites my toes while I try to sleep.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:42 AM on August 13, 2018 [32 favorites]

I wonder if this propensity to hop in beside sleeping infants is behind the folklore of cats stealing their breath?

Even in 2018, the top comment on the facebook link Jonny Wallflower shared is a thread of people debating whether or not cats are likely to smother babies.
posted by lunasol at 8:51 AM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

My brother and SIL know that their toddler loves the cat. But they were unprepared to walk into their living room one morning to find both cat AND toddler in perfect loaf form, on the back of the sofa, enjoying a sunbeam.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 9:02 AM on August 13, 2018 [9 favorites]

As an infant, I was for some reason given the duty of naming the cat, so I declared him to be Bijee. As a toddler, I told my first anecdote to my parents: regarding the cat's encounter with the local wildlife while my grandmother babysat me, I summarized, “Bijee eaten birdie, Gramma birdie fence.”

It has a concision and momentum that I wish I could recapture in middle age.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:34 AM on August 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

Our cat is what we call a "nanny cat". He not only tolerates the babies, he is attracted to them, and patiently lets them tug, bang, and manipulate him. He has his threshold, but I've seen family dogs have lower thresholds than our cat.

I have videos of him allowing the kids to pound on his belly (at kid-strength -- it's not like they're banging his guts out) and him just lounging about and taking it. But he's also a bit of a masochist who has always enjoyed a rough belly rub, so the minute the kids became mobile and responsive, this became a match made in heaven for him.

And believe me, if he didn't like it, there are plenty of places for him to go where the kids are not. The house is cordoned off so that there are kid-zones and no-kid-zones, and the cat has an entire back room to himself if and when he wants it. But he doesn't. He likes the kids. He seeks the kids. They are his humans.

This was not true with our Russian Blue, who detested the children and ran off and hid from them and would glower whenever they were around. But the nanny cat abides, and the nanny cat loves his little mini buddies, and we admit the nanny cat is a rare beastie who probably should have a children's book written about him.

He also loves belly rubs. Not tolerates. Not momentarily endures before Venus-fly-trapping-and-ripping-the-shit-out-of-your-arms. He loves. belly. rubs.
posted by offalark at 9:35 AM on August 13, 2018 [6 favorites]

When my granddaughter Wee was a toddler, we had a white shorthair cat (Who grew to be an *enormous* cat) named Kaspar. Kaspar was *extraordinarily* tolerant to the various abuses perpetrated on him by Wee, to the point of allowing himself to be passively carried around by her. No one else in the house could pick him up.
posted by pjern at 9:49 AM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

When my son was about the age of the toddlers in these videos we had a cat whose personality was, to be generous, pissy. She wasn’t usually mean, but generally antisocial, and not to be trusted. She would absolutely swipe at you if she was in a bad mood.
So it was with great caution that we let the toddler interact with the cat. To our surprise, the cat was remarkably chill, and sat patiently while the baby grabbed her tail, poked her ears, and did all manner of behavior that, if an adult had done it, would have been severely punished.
Sometimes the cat’s eyes would meet mine and her expression would say, “What. It’s a baby. I’m not a monster.“
posted by LEGO Damashii at 9:56 AM on August 13, 2018 [8 favorites]

My mom was tickling me once when I was very little and my giggles sounded enough like yelps of concern that my first cat Dinah decided the only way to save me was to bite my mother on her butt as deep as she could.
posted by Hermione Granger at 1:53 PM on August 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

I was once at a meeting at a house with a tiny kitten. Someone brought a toddler. The kitten jumped up on a table and the toddler walked up, so they were eye level to each other. I was expecting chaos, bloodshed, mayhem, but instead the two of them stared at each other with wide friendly eyes. The toddler didn't grab at the kitten and the kitten didn't move out of reach. It was magic, like they both realized they were similar.
posted by acrasis at 5:32 PM on August 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

Can confirm. The alpha cat in our home nannies our Lil Wiggles as if directing a kitten, is endlessly patient with being smoshed upon, and will even come fetch me once the kid has woken up in the morning.
posted by greenland at 6:40 PM on August 13, 2018

As a very significant counterpoint, I present the subreddit /r/CatsMurderingToddlers/, which at least as far as I can tell is hyperbolically named but still conveys the contents.
posted by Blasdelb at 5:57 AM on August 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

When I was pregnant, someone suggested I play a YouTube video of a baby crying on my phone to see how my cat would react-- Skittles came right away with a very concerned look on her face seeking out the source.

She is definitely a Caretaker Kitty! During my maternity leave, if my daughter started crying while I was in the shower, Skittles would plant herself on the other side of the glass door and meow at me continuously until I got out. When we have done time-outs or let an overly-fussy Little Scarnato cry it out a bit, Skittles will select a spot that lets her see both of us, look back and forth, and meow or glare at me like, "Hey, aren't you going to deal with this?"

When Little Scarnato screamed bloody murder during bath time because she did not want her hair washed, Skittles came up behind me and bit my toes. I started wearing slippers during bath time, but honestly I just can't be mad at the cat for protecting one of her people. Same thing after Little Scarnato's eye surgery when we had to put an antibacterial ointment on her eyes every night for two weeks-- we had to banish the cat from the room but heard the plaintive meowing and pawing at the door from the other side. When anyone in the house is sick, "Nurse Kitty" will plant herself on or next to the patient.

She is not very tolerant of kid grabbing and such, but deals with it by just removing herself from the situation. Even now, she is sometimes wary of 5-year-old Little Scarnato, which is justified because at home the kid sort of goes all over the place with no sense of where her body ends and others begin. We have several pictures of the cat perched somewhere just out of Little Scarnato's reach.

She is, of course, A Good Cat and The Best Kitty.
posted by scarnato at 6:56 AM on August 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

They can be, I suppose - but unfortunately, this was not the case for our son and my beloved Bob. Bob just decided he didn't like the baby, and began showing us how much he disliked the baby by attempting to literally tear his guts out with his back feet and trying to bite off his ears and nose every chance he got.

Bob eventually found a good home with a couple that had no children. I still miss Bob.
posted by bradth27 at 7:21 AM on August 14, 2018

I grew up with the best cat, who (or so I've been told) was remarkably tolerant of my abuses as a tiny human. She had renal failure and we had her put down, shortly before I moved away from home. I buried her in our garden, and I had the greatest sensation of loss that I've ever had.

She was the best cat, and I miss her still, even though it's been more than 20 years.
posted by Unwandering star of the North at 1:46 PM on August 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

MetaFilter: Surprisingly little bloodshed occurs
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:31 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

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