Adult female cat bites my children when they cry

JMM80

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I have a female cat, approximate 6.5 years old. She was a stray and we brought her in the house. My kids, 8 and 11, love her to death and she’s the sweetest thing. She will let me clip her claws, give her a bath, brush her, and the kids pick her up and she never has any issues. Except when they cry. She has always bit them when they cry. I have seen some people say it’s a ‘mothering’ thing, but she just bit my 11 year old on the face once and on the arm twice when she was crying. I don’t know what to do about this. Any suggestions? I can’t have my kids be bitten, but we love her.
 

Mamanyt1953

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Hey, tabbytom tabbytom , Jcatbird Jcatbird and C calicosrspecial , you guys know a LOT about strays and ferals. This is a former stray, so she's right in your wheelhouse! Any suggestions?

These are some of the people here who are very experienced in these things. Far, far more than I. However, I'm thinking there may be an anxiety issue with her concerning the crying. Let's see what someone with more knowledge than I has to say.
 

tabbytom

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Except when they cry. She has always bit them when they cry. I have seen some people say it’s a ‘mothering’ thing, but she just bit my 11 year old on the face once and on the arm twice when she was crying.
This is a natural instinct behavior in them. They are emotionally disturbed by the crying but not in a hostile way. Crying seems like a distress call to them and they are just giving attention to it by biting or even meowing as loud as the cries.

I experience this with my boy, there was once I was on the phone with some real stubborn person and I lost my cool and was shouting at the top of my voice. My boy heard me and he was meowing non stop during my yells and he'll come near me and looks like trying to console me.

I can only think of two ways, try to console your kids when they cry or about to cry so that it won't attract the attention of the cat or console the kids and the cat at the same time and speak gently to the cat and say that it's ok, it's just some crying and hopefully the cat get use to the crying.
Have some treats or a cat wand or cat toys around so that when this happens, you can redirect the cat's attention with a treat or toy to play with.

And if your cat behaves in such manner only when there's crying and hangs around and play with your kids at. normal times, so it's true in what you heard, it's a 'mothering' thing.

There maybe other members with a more concrete advice for you, please stay tune.
 

Jcatbird

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It is a reaction to them crying. She could either be trying to teach them what all feral cat moms teach their babies, it’s not safe to make crying sounds because it attracts predators or she may be anxious about them. Stressing. The simple answer is to give the cat and child reassurance and keep kitty away from their face during crying until she understands the child is okay. You don’t say if it is a nip or a deep bite but if it is more of a hard nip, I tend to think it is more an attempt to teach them as she would her own babies. There are things you can do to reduce her stress too. Feliway might work. The plug in is what I would suggest. Calming products of other kinds are available.
The next time a child cries, if possible, take kitty a distance from them and reassure her that the child is okay and try to get your child involved as well. Let them offer her reassurance too. Maybe that will help your young ones too. Focusing on their kitty rather than whatever hurt or upset they have experienced might make them feel a little bit better. They would be helping kitty. :alright: I’m Sorry your child was crying as well as the kitty biting. I hope something here helps. Please keep us updated and I am sure others will be adding their experiences as well.
 

di and bob

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She is emotionally distressed hearing the crying and is trying to get their attention. I would bet there may be pacing and meowing right before this. she doesn't know how to help them so responds by trying to quiet them with a bite, how she would quiet her kittens so they do not attract the attention of a predator. If everyone can remember she is doing this out of protectiveness and love, the children may be able to forgive her. She is getting overstressed/overstimulated. She is not tearing chunks out, or biting so deep as to cause heavy bleeding, is she? THAT is serious cat bites. She is nipping hard to teach them to quiet because she is stressed. Try to comfort or distract her when they start crying. or send them to a safe room. Or put her in a safe room. Eventually, she will get used to the noise, or the kids will get old enough to stop crying so much. The 8-year-old has a ways to go, but the 11-year-old will learn to handle frustration better soon.
 

calicosrspecial

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Great analysis and advice so far.

How long have you had the cat?

Is the cat in the area when the kids start crying? Or does the cat start running to the child?

Cats take on our emotions so the more distressed, stressed, etc a human is the more distressed, stressed, etc the cat becomes and things can happen.

So it is really important to try to de-escalate the situation. Console the child, talk calm, confidently and lovingly to the cat. If someone can try to console the cat while you are attending to the child that can help. Use food, eye kisses, anything to calm the cat down and let them know everything is ok.

I would also step up play with the cat when things are calm. To build confidence especially in those areas the child/children may typically cry. After play feed treats. Also, see if you can have a cat tree or cat shelving in those areas so the cat can go high and gain some confidence and feel some security from the crying. A confident cat can handle more stress than a cat that is less confident.

Since the children love the kitty I would also explain what happened and why. The 11 year old should understand in time while the 8 year old may learn as well. It could be a good teaching experience.

We'll get you through this. The cat sounds like a great cat so we should be able to eliminate this behavior.
 
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JMM80

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She is emotionally distressed hearing the crying and is trying to get their attention. I would bet there may be pacing and meowing right before this. she doesn't know how to help them so responds by trying to quiet them with a bite, how she would quiet her kittens so they do not attract the attention of a predator. If everyone can remember she is doing this out of protectiveness and love, the children may be able to forgive her. She is getting overstressed/overstimulated. She is not tearing chunks out, or biting so deep as to cause heavy bleeding, is she? THAT is serious cat bites. She is nipping hard to teach them to quiet because she is stressed. Try to comfort or distract her when they start crying. or send them to a safe room. Or put her in a safe room. Eventually, she will get used to the noise, or the kids will get old enough to stop crying so much. The 8-year-old has a ways to go, but the 11-year-old will learn to handle frustration better soon.
Great analysis and advice so far.

How long have you had the cat?

Is the cat in the area when the kids start crying? Or does the cat start running to the child?

Cats take on our emotions so the more distressed, stressed, etc a human is the more distressed, stressed, etc the cat becomes and things can happen.

So it is really important to try to de-escalate the situation. Console the child, talk calm, confidently and lovingly to the cat. If someone can try to console the cat while you are attending to the child that can help. Use food, eye kisses, anything to calm the cat down and let them know everything is ok.

I would also step up play with the cat when things are calm. To build confidence especially in those areas the child/children may typically cry. After play feed treats. Also, see if you can have a cat tree or cat shelving in those areas so the cat can go high and gain some confidence and feel some security from the crying. A confident cat can handle more stress than a cat that is less confident.

Since the children love the kitty I would also explain what happened and why. The 11 year old should understand in time while the 8 year old may learn as well. It could be a good teaching experience.

We'll get you through this. The cat sounds like a great cat so we should be able to eliminate this behavior.
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She is emotionally distressed hearing the crying and is trying to get their attention. I would bet there may be pacing and meowing right before this. she doesn't know how to help them so responds by trying to quiet them with a bite, how she would quiet her kittens so they do not attract the attention of a predator. If everyone can remember she is doing this out of protectiveness and love, the children may be able to forgive her. She is getting overstressed/overstimulated. She is not tearing chunks out, or biting so deep as to cause heavy bleeding, is she? THAT is serious cat bites. She is nipping hard to teach them to quiet because she is stressed. Try to comfort or distract her when they start crying. or send them to a safe room. Or put her in a safe room. Eventually, she will get used to the noise, or the kids will get old enough to stop crying so much. The 8-year-old has a ways to go, but the 11-year-old will learn to handle frustration better soon.
No, she isn’t breaking the skin. It’s like she can’
I have a female cat, approximate 6.5 years old. She was a stray and we brought her in the house. My kids, 8 and 11, love her to death and she’s the sweetest thing. She will let me clip her claws, give her a bath, brush her, and the kids pick her up and she never has any issues. Except when they cry. She has always bit them when they cry. I have seen some people say it’s a ‘mothering’ thing, but she just bit my 11 year old on the face once and on the arm twice when she was crying. I don’t know what to do about this. Any suggestions? I can’t have my kids be bitten, but we love her.
Hello all,
Thanks for all the responses and suggestions! She is not breaking the skin, and doesn’t seem to be trying to hurt them. She nips, but it scares the kids, of course, especially when they’re upset. They don’t hold it against her for long, because they love her and she’s so sweet all other times, which is the majority.
She doesn’t pace or meow before biting, but runs to them as soon as they start to cry, like she can’t help herself, even when she is in another part of the house.
We have had her for about 6 years. She was a stray, then was an outdoor cat and super hunter until I moved and could have her inside. She’s been inside for almost 2 years, immediately adjusting and enjoying inside.
 
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JMM80

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Hello all,
Thanks for all the responses and suggestions! She is not breaking the skin, and doesn’t seem to be trying to hurt them. She nips, but it scares the kids, of course, especially when they’re upset. They don’t hold it against her for long, because they love her and she’s so sweet all other times, which is the majority.
She doesn’t pace or meow before biting, but runs to them as soon as they start to cry, like she can’t help herself, even when she is in another part of the house.
We have had her for about 6 years. She was a stray, then was an outdoor cat and super hunter until I moved and could have her inside. She’s been inside for almost 2 years, immediately adjusting and enjoying inside.
I should mention that we play with her a lot, but she’s only interested in the laser pointer and puff balls. She carries the balls around in her mouth, meowing loudly over and over at night especially. I have to take them away before we go to bed to prevent her waking us up. She doesn’t like boxes, doesn’t like cat trees (we’ve tried). We give treats too.
 

calicosrspecial

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Ok, great. Very helpful.

The fact she is showing restraint (not breaking skin) tells me she is worried about the child/children. So it isn't an aggressive action. That is very positive. It almost sounds like a "Love Bite" type thing. To reassure the child, to tell them it is ok. As others have said, a more motherly action.

Ok, very helpful.

How long has this been happening? Has it just started or has it being going on for years?

Reassure her that everything is ok. This is her showing worry towards the child in my opinion.

Ok, on the play. That is great. Feed some treats or a meal after play.

Explain to the children that kitty is worried about them, that she cares about them and that is why she respond to the crying. She definitely loves the children.
 

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My avatar, Alice, is a 2 year old feral who recently became indoor only, along with her sister Elise. They were born to a feral mother under my neighbor's house, TNRed by me, so I know her background. She will do the little bite on my arm if I gasp or make any similar sound....like if I am on the phone and someone says something to which I react. I believe it is her feral background entirely, especially as she and her sister and mother watched the other sibling being killed by a coyote.

Your kitty loves your kids and I do think that this can be managed with many of the suggestions put forth. Alice has not even done this for a while now, so I think that she must have transitioned to thinking that nothing bad is going to happen if she hears certain sounds.
 

Mamanyt1953

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And do explain to the kids why she does that...that a mama cat does that to her crying kittens so that a mean animal won't find them and hurt them (they're a little young for "a predator will eat them). Knowing why something happens can make all the difference in the world in how kids react. They'll know that she is actually trying to protect them as if they were her own babies.
 
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JMM80

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I really appreciate all the advice! It’s truly helpful.
 

di and bob

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Carrying that puffball in her mouth and meowing loudly indicates she has a strong 'mothering' instinct. That distinct meow she is giving is her calling in her babies to share in the 'prey' she has caught. I have had many females do that, even those who have never had kittens. That and the fact she is not breaking the skin means it is a warning nip, not a bite.
 
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