My 3 year old daughter decided yesterday that she wanted a clean kitty and put him in the washer. She had seen me put her stuffed cat in there before and I guess she thought live kitties could go in there too. Before anyone asks, I was cooking breakfast and keeping an eye on her 1 year old brother while he was eating, she was sent to get daddy out of the basement where the washer and dryer are. We have talked to her about it she now understands that she is not allowed to touch the washer and dryer, only grown ups. She also understands that live animals and people do not go in the washer. I am concerned that this will traumatize her, It was not done with malicious intent or anything. My mother seems to think that she did it on purpose but she is a sweet loving little girl who loved the cat dearly. Any thoughts on helping her deal with this would be appreciated.
If there have never been any other incidents of her being mean/hurtful toward animals, I would say that this was just a horrible accident. I would try to explain to her, in terms she will understand, that even sometimes with good intentions, bad things happen. I would not dwell on it, though, as that would just make it worse for her. Explain what happened and how it was wrong, and leave it alone. Since 3 yr olds are very curious about how things work, I would suggest getting child locks for the doors or knobs of the washer and dryer.
I agree with Victoria...it sounds like an unfortunate, very tragic, accident. If she were going to be cruel to her kitty I would imagine she would do it in another manner, rather than in one so clearly NOT associated with causing pain. Tell your mother that accusing your daughter of being malicious is inappropriate and could cause her to grow up thinking she IS malicious, which would be WAY more damaging in the long run. as long as no other warning flags or incidents crop up, Let this go as the tragedy it is and continue to reinforce appropriate behavior towards animals and people.
I would recommend not getting another small pet for your children until they are older, because, unfortunately, these sort of accidents are not uncommon, and at that age no matter how much she loves her kitty she has absolutely no concept of life/death and no concept of how putting the kitty in the washer will hurt kitty and cause her not to be around anymore...so I would recommend holding off until your youngest is about 4 or 5, or maybe getting something larger like a gentle dog breed. I've heard of many tragic accidents between toddlers and kittens/cats so you are definitely not an isolated case!
I would also recommend NOT emphasizing the washer as the problem. Emphasize that there are certain things we do with kitties and people, and certain things we do not. If you emphasize too much that her touching the washer/dryer is the cause of kitty no longer being around, she will lose sight of kitty's death and begin to fear the washer. That's just a guess, but I would try to help her learn what DOES go in the washer, as opposed to what does not. Maybe have her stand next to you while you load it "does this go in? Yes, this is a sock! It goes in the washer...how about...daddy? does he go in? No, he's a person, he doesn't go in the washer!" and just take your time every time you do clothes to go through a list like this.. "how about the squirrel? does he go in the washer? No, that's silly! squirrels don't go in the washer!"
I'm sorry this happened I know it's tough to try to get things back to normal :(.
I agree with your mother. While the intent was not to kill the kitten or do permanent damage, I believe the intent was in fact to be "kind of mean" to the kitty. Children do this all the time, and that's why small defenseless animals are unsafe in the care of small children - because the desire to be kind of mean is very often there. This doesn't make her evil, it makes her a child. And almost all of them will exhibit a little meanness to children and creatures smaller than themselves when they get the chance. Even if she loved the kitten very very much.
Children make animals sit in one place for a very long time, or trap them in small enclosures, or do other things that are clearly unpleasant and unwelcome to the animal, and the child knows it. That's life, and that's a part of growing up. To be able to take something else's freedom or force something else to comply with uncomfortable demands I think feels cathartic for small kids, because this is their life - they're constantly made to bend to the will of adults. It flows downhill.
If she had wanted a clean kitty, she would have done what she would do if she wanted a clean blanket - bring it to you and ask that you clean it. I doubt she has ever taken a blanket or pillow or clothing item that she wanted clean down to the basement and washed it herself.
If she's feeling a little traumatized and guilty, I would allow her to feel that. It's a good sign. Just acknowledge her when she says she misses the kitty, she's sorry she killed the kitty, etc. She didn't intend it to end this horribly. This is learning, and learning to feel remorse and empathy.
when i was young my sister and i decided to give our live kittens a bath. well i guess they were to young or maybe it was the soap but they did not live. my sister and i to this day still feel a ping of guilt over the death of the kittens however we are not scarred by it. life is full of lessons i think as long as you talk to her about it she will be ok.
I would get her another cat right away. Maybe not a kitten because kittens are more fragile, but an older cat that has been around children before. A shelter should have a lot of good options. It's important that she learns how to act around animals and the new cat will help her forget about the one that died. We got a cat right around when my daughter was born. I think she has only pulled the cats tail once and since then she either ignores them or pets them nicely without even being asked to. My question is how did your daughter get the cat in the washer? Cats are strong and I know my daughter couldn't pick up either of our cats, let alone stuff them in something. Cats are squirmy and strong so I have no idea how she actually did that.
OMG she is only three. Love her and comfort her. She does not have the developmental level to understand she killed the cat- her goal was to wash it- kids that age don't think- don't give her the idea it's her fault or it will traumatized her- reassure her she didn't mean to and that we love animals and she was kind to her kitty before she died of this sad accident
When my older sister was about 4 she accidentally strangled one of her kittens, my dad had gotten her two and she was carrying them around in the yard and was carrying the one by the neck without noticing how she was holding it. When she was little she felt so bad but made sure she never hurt the other kitty that was left. Now that she is older we tease her all the time about lol.
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