It’s the day I hoped would never come.
One of our cats bit Lilly.
Lilly was sitting in a play seat where she is surrounded by things she can spin and grab. It was her bedtime and had lost interest in playing, so we decided to take her out. Nick reached in to grab her, and she started to whimper, and that quickly turned to a full-blown meltdown.
Our cat Killer ran over, and as I was taking Lilly from Nick to comfort her, she bit her on the leg. It happened so fast that we didn’t even realize it.
We brought her upstairs and tried to figure out why she had started crying in the first place. We figured she got pinched in her seat somehow and then began to look over her skin when we saw a bit of blood from one of four tiny punctures in her skin.
By this point, Lilly had stopped crying and was all smiles and giggles.
But we were a mess.
My first thought was, “I’m going to have to get rid of my cat.”
I got Killer when she was six months old from a shelter in Orange Country. In the last fourteen years, she has been with me through five moves, three states, and the addition of a fur brother and sister. She was with me when I started my very first on-air gig, doing traffic updates at midnight. She’s been with me through heartaches, breakups, promotions, and even was represented during our wedding reception.
And she was waiting at the door when we brought Lilly home.
Just because I love her doesn’t mean I haven’t been vigilante with her when she’s around Lilly.
Killer got her name because she was a ferocious kitten. She would attack and bite everything around her. She is also the most emotional cat I’ve ever seen. When she is feeling love for you, she will shower you with kisses. Her purr is the loudest I’ve ever heard, and she always wants to sit next to you and be where the family hangs out.
But she also shows you when she is mad by hissing, growling, and biting.
After we realized she bit Lilly, we called the emergency after-hours pediatric hotline. We explained to the nurse on call what happened. She asked if Lilly is up on her vaccinations, which she is. She also asked if the cats are up on all their shots, and lucky for us, they are.
I asked her if we should bring her to the hospital, and she laughed.
“No, she’s going to be fine, and this probably won’t be the last time. I have a cat, and it sounds like Killer was trying to protect her.”
So she bit her to protect her? That didn’t make any sense, so I looked into it.
It turns out that the nurse was right.
Through evolution, cats have become programmed to search for danger everywhere. When one of their kittens get too loud, the mother worries that the sound will attract predators, so they will bite them. This calms them and they will stop meowing.
Killer bit Lilly to save her from those looking for easy prey.
The problem is that it doesn’t work on human babies.
The more and more I looked into this, the more I realized this was a common thing. It eased my nerves a bit, but with Lilly growing up, she is bound to cry, and I don’t want this to happen again.
So what can you do?
1) Make sure they’re always spayed and neutered. This will help ease aggression.
2) You can desensitize your cat to the sound of a baby crying with the help of YouTube videos like this one. Play it in the room with your baby, but keep them at a safe distance.
3) Talk to your vet about medication that might help an anxious cat.
4) Seek out a cat behaviorist. They might give you some suggestions like feeding your cat on top of baby clothes, so they start to associate the baby with good things.
5) Separate your baby and cat permanently with a gate and limit their interactions.
If your cat does end up biting your child, here is what you should do to treat the wound.
Killer is a senior cat and has only a few years left in her life. When I adopted her, I made a promise that I would look after her for her entire life, and I plan on seeing that through.
But just because the cat stays doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be watching.. Now that I know that Lilly’s wails elicit this type of behavior, I will act faster and hopefully prevent this from happening in the future.
Has this ever happened to you? What did you do?