what would you do if you found your friends kid strangling your cat?

Randi - posted on 04/15/2011 ( 49 moms have responded )

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I was looking after a friend of mines kids and I walked into the living room to find the 4 year old strangling my cat and smashing his face into the floor. Now don't judge the cat he is the best cat there could be. He likes to lay on the floor while the kids are playing and has never scratched, growled or been agressive to the kids AT ALL... Our friendship has actually ended because of this . I told her that we needed to talk about it.. 3 weeks later and she still wont answer the phone or apologize or even address the issue.. WHAT WOULD YOU DO ?

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[deleted account]

I once (a LONG time ago) babysat a 4 year old girl who tried to hurt my dog (he was too big for her to do any damage too). Two years later she took her moms birds out of their cage, covered them w/ a towel, and pulverized them w/ a hammer..... NOT saying that this will be the case w/ this boy, but I don't buy the 'he's only 4' crap.

Jocelyn - posted on 04/15/2011

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Animal cruelty is the first sign of psychopathic behavior. I would not let that child into my house, nor around ANY animal of mine, until the parents got the kid into therapy. That is a HUGE warning sign. If the parents refused to address the issue, then I would just end the relationship. It is not healthy for your children to be around that other child.

Krista - posted on 04/18/2011

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Wow you folks are all bat $*** crazy. Why yes...call CPS. Its people like you who have turned this country into a nanny state mentality. Obviously he must have bad parents and hes going to be a serial killer. Couldnt possibly be that hes FOUR. Apparently 4 yr olds are no longer able to have a lapse in judgement.

For starters, you may want to lay off the personal insults.

Secondly, even if this WAS normal behaviour for a 4-year old, what the hell kind of mother does not apologize for her kid abusing someone else's pet?

And thirdly, strangling an animal and bashing its face into the floor, whether a lapse in judgment or not, is not something that should be ignored or brushed aside. Whether you like it or not, there IS a very clear and strong link between childhood animal cruelty and adult violence. And any parent who puts their head in the sand when these things happen is incredibly irresponsible. Nobody's saying to write the kid off as a serial killer -- but we ARE saying that the mom needs to take this seriously and find out what the hell is going on with her kid.

Kate CP - posted on 04/15/2011

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A four year old child should know that choking a living creature and beating it's head into the floor isn't nice behavior and will hurt the animal.

Kate CP - posted on 04/16/2011

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Heather: We're not talking about right and wrong, we're talking about empathy which should be inherent in a child of 4. He SHOULD understand that having one's face bashed into the floor over and over would HURT and therefor he shouldn't do it. He SHOULD understand that choking the life out of a living creature would HURT and he shouldn't do it! This child's lack of EMPATHY towards others, including animals, is a serious warning sign that he is deeply troubled. He NEEDS therapy.



Edited to add:

The fact that one of the boys who tortured animals growing up enlisted in the marines isn't proving your case, really. He joined a group of people who kill other people. He just happens to be fighting a war to do it.

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Richelle - posted on 07/22/2012

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I would not allow the child near the cat you your kids without supervision again, and I would keep an eye out for other signs of animal abuse from this child. It's one thing for a child to be angry and act out once, but his actions seem a little extreme. Strangling and beating the cat's head into the floor? Not good. I'd be as polite as possible with the mother, she may be overwhelmed by this, especially if there are other incidents brought to her attention, but be firm that this is a concern for you (if you are talking to her). Good luck.

Veronique - posted on 04/18/2011

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Wow, what a little demon that kid is.......I don't care if it's a cat,dog,frog,hamspter or whatever living creature or even a child i do not tolerate violence in my house and if your friend can't see a problem with this then better off not being friends. Jeez some people just can't take see the big picture......

Jenni - posted on 04/18/2011

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Don't see your name but person who wrote the very hostile comment:
By 4 years old children should be able to experience empathy. Lack of empathy or being developmentally behind in empathy is often an indication of an underlying behavioural disorder.... now it may be far fetched to say he's going to grow up to be a serial killer. I think that's worst case scenero and not very likely. However, it could very well be an indication of ADHD, ODD, Bipolar disorder or a whole slew of other possibilities. A lot of times can be a blanket diagnosis for some sort of psychosis difficult to diagnose in children. One of the symptoms children or adults with these disorders or psychosis universally exhibit is lack of empathy. It is a definite red flag for mental illness in children and should never be excused as kids just being kids when there is so much at stake that early intervention could prevent and manage the child's mental health.

If it was just a one time case of the child acting out. So be it. But it's not worth the risk of excusing the behaviour. It's not worth it to the child if he is suffering from an illness and it's not worth it to the parents who have to cope with his behaviour.

Liz - posted on 04/18/2011

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I would remove the child from the cat, tell the child it was wrong, put him in time out and then ask him to apologise: I wouldn't have a child over under my sole supervision without discussing with his mom what she would want to happen in the event of a disciplinary situation arising. I would make it clear that any bad behaviour will get the 'supernanny' routine of warning, time out, request for an apology. If for some reason I hadn't already had this conversation with the mom I would still remove the child from the animal and put him in time out. I would also tell him that I would be telling his mom about his behaviour. It isn't appropriate, in my opinion, to fail to address the situation on the spot at all, just because you can't act like his parent. Better to make it clear at the time that the action has consequences.

I'd then contact his mom, explain what happened and what I did about it. I'd want to know that she was dealing with it and that she held the same viewpoint as me (i.e. that treating an animal that way is unacceptable). If the mother didn't care, didn't want to address the situation, or had no interest in teaching her child not to do it again, then that child would not be welcome in my house in future.

Vivien - posted on 04/18/2011

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I would most certainly have told the kid off & asked the Mum why she thought the kid would do such a thing.they must understand the difference between right & wrong

User - posted on 04/18/2011

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Wow you folks are all bat $*** crazy. Why yes...call CPS. Its people like you who have turned this country into a nanny state mentality. Obviously he must have bad parents and hes going to be a serial killer. Couldnt possibly be that hes FOUR. Apparently 4 yr olds are no longer able to have a lapse in judgement. So yes call CPS right away because the kid you were supposed to be watching mishandled your cat. Maybe the kids mom thinks your a little nutty and are overreacting and THATS why she isnt calling you back to "talk" about it.

Krista - posted on 04/17/2011

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I agree with most of the others here. This is VERY disturbing. This is not a case of a kid inadvertently being too rough with an animal -- those things happen.

But for a kid to be strangling the cat, and smashing his face into the floor? Jaysus. That's not inadvertent roughness. And no, that's NOT normal behaviour at that age. Deliberate cruelty to animals is a very, very big warning flag that SOMETHING is not right with this boy.

I'm not big on calling Social Services for this, that or the other thing. However, I have a sinking feeling that if the mother and son continue along this path, that Social Services will definitely be involved in their lives in the coming years anyway. So, I think it would be worthwhile talking to them and just sticking to the facts of what happened, and then they can decide from there what needs to be done.

Julie Doyle - posted on 04/17/2011

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i totaly agree thats how it starts so the matter needs addressing whilest he is still young if there is anything there professionals can help him

Mel - posted on 04/17/2011

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read the responses my child is only just turns 3 and most of the time knows not to hurt an animal, jsut likes to pat them, but when she does hurt them its playful not meaning to, so I think that the kid is troubled.

Jenni - posted on 04/17/2011

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Ink- yeah I was sort of thinking the same thing. I mean, how does a child that young learn to do that? Hitting is a natural reaction for some toddlers/preschoolers out of frustation. It isn't necessarily a learned behaviour (of course it can be). But strangling on the other hand? I would *think* it was learned. But my brother (if you see my above statement) didn't learn that behaviour from anyone. He had never been or seen anyone strangled. My mother only allowed us to watch age appropriate TV. So where did *he* learn it?



Honestly, I don't know. Logically, you'd think they had to of seen the behaviour somewhere but I don't think that's always the case.

[deleted account]

It IS disturbing...and I stick to my statement...the behavior is learned. Someone in that child's life has taught him that if you 'STRANGLE" something...it will give in and do what you wanted. Strangle, hit, smack, pop, burn with a cigarette...violence is violence...and the behavior is learned. Someone has taught the child to act this way.

Jenni - posted on 04/17/2011

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The only thing is Ink, he was 'strangling the cat'. He didn't just smack the cat. There is a large margin of difference between hitting someone or something and strangling them. Some kids are hitters. Some kids still struggling with hitting over the age of 4. Whether it be because environment or biology. But 'strangling' to me seems far more disturbing.

[deleted account]

You gave one little sentence that really sticks with me....

"when i finally got her to text me she said that i should have spanked him"

This tells me the kid is being taught to hit people that don't do what he wants them to do. It doesn't make this RIGHT....but it can justify WHY the kid was pounding on the cat. Maybe the cat didn't shake his paw the way the kid wanted him to...so he hit the cat...to MAKE him do what he wanted...the same way his parents do?



IMO...the kid is only doing what his parents have taught him. The anti-social behavior is learned...from his parents.

Jenni - posted on 04/17/2011

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We caught my brother strangling our cat when he was 4 or 5. He was later diagnosed with bi polar disorder, conduct disorder and paranoid skitzophrenia. It only happened *one* time. Just sayin.

Amanda - posted on 04/16/2011

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I actually was in a situation that was similar in some ways...but much less serious and took the other route. I stopped talking to the other mother. We had been friends for about a year, but she is the type of person who sees no wrong in her child. On several occasions she spent a length of time justifying how her child's abnormal behavior was normal. This is a first time mom and her child is socially and emotionally delayed so she is displaying behavior typical for a 2 or 3 year old when she is 5. The mother and daughter had been at our house. We observed her picking up my cat, trying to carry it around by the neck, laying on the cat, picking it up by the front paws to make it "dance", etc. etc. I reprimanded the girl many times infront of her mother while the mom continued to act like this was normal behavior and stated that my house rules were mine. I resorted to putting the cat in my bedroom behind closed doors stating the cat needed to be left alone. The daughter let the cat our 4 times. Each time I put it away, restated my rules, and let her know it wasn't ok to ignore me. Similarly on a shopping trip the girl ran around like a toddler would, pulling and jumping on my 6 year old. I reprimanded her multiple times because her mother wouldn't. I was told before the shopping trip that this girl is "always on her best behavior and a great role-model". I personally just found it easier to avoid confrontation than to have to explain to another well-meaning but oblivious mother that her child's actions are inappropriate on a plethora of levels.



In your case it sounds like the home this child is being raised in is an abusive home. If he shuts down when being reprimanded for inappropriate behavior it sounds like that is his only way to cope. For abused children shutting down prevents them from saying or doing something to further aggravate the abuser and prevents them from being "spanked" bloody. His behavior with the cat might be him experimenting with the ability to be in control of something in the same way his parents control him. I would contact the department of human services for two reasons. 1) to document the way he acted towards your animal 2) to hopefully put a red flag up to child services about possible abuse happening in the home. The hard part will be documenting any of it because many agencies can't do anything until major physical damage happens or they are caught in the act of doing something.

Julie Doyle - posted on 04/16/2011

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her child needs help if he is doing that to a cat what would he do to a baby worrying seems to have a violent side to him i would not keep trying to speek to her it was her dhild in the wrong not urs but the issue should be ;ooked in to perhapes a child cycolgest would be helpfull good look

Christy - posted on 04/16/2011

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Another BTW, there is TOO MUCH bashing going on for this mother asking for opinions on this topic. We are all mothers and sometimes need a point of reference on topics suck as this. Good luck, Randi!!!

Christy - posted on 04/16/2011

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BTW, I do not think the kid is psycho, however err on the side of caution, don't let your kids be alone with him. To me, 4 is old enough to know. My son is 4 and that doesn't make me an expert, but all the kids in his pre K class have been over and never exhibited this sort of behavior. We are moms and we need to listen to our gut instincts......

Christy - posted on 04/16/2011

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I bet your friend knows that her child may have a "mean streak" and is unwilling to admit it. Keep the lines of communication open and tell her you are here for her, but you cannot keep her child at your home anymore. She isn't apologizing for an array of reasons only known to her. I bet later on she is going to have more issues with her 4 yr old and that's why I say to keep trying to talk to her, she may need you soon!

Randi - posted on 04/16/2011

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thanks for all the feedback. I have a hard time with this couse it only happened once.. but how many times should it happen before something needs to be done. the worst part is she wont even talk to me about it. I have to feel somewhat responsible, maybe I should have been watching him better, but who is to say it wouldn't happen to one of the other children.. also she says that when other people watch him they have no problems with him.. I havea hard time with this couse he is a good kid, other then this, there are just so many small things about him that pop into my mind as strange. like when ever i try talking to him about anything he crawls into a shell and wont talk to me. he talks to my son who is 3, but all i can get out of him is a "ah ha".. and i know he is more then capable of carrying on a conversation. i do have a feeling that something funny is going on in there house but i have never seen it so i have a hard time acusing someone of something if i haven't witnessed it. i agree with the fact that with this sort of behavior, should it go untreated, could grow into something worse. i wish his mother was more responsive to help. all i have ever done was try and help, and now i have good reason to help.

[deleted account]

No one called this child a psychopath or a serial killer. Just that his behavior has the POTENTIAL to be a huge problem. His mother seems to be in denial which will not help him and could very well increase his problems. If the mother will not parent and get the help this boy needs.... then reporting the situation is the right thing to do.. FOR the boy, not against him.

[deleted account]

Keli my kids won't be as I am attentive to their every need and I am not the in denial type.If my child was regularly abusing our animals and others then I would get them the help they need.

With that said, I am not going to start calling this kid a psychopath and serial killer based on someones post. The OP doesn't even state wether this has happened just this one time or if it happens all of the time. I really don't know exactly what lead up to this child doing this as she didn't state that because she doesn't know because she wasn't even in the room. Did her child instigate the act of being rough with the cat and she walked in on the other child having at it? Who knows?! The kids were left in the room unsupervised!



Kate empathy is not always inherent or fully inherent and therefor must be taught starting in infancy.Obviously the child lacks it and must be taught it by the PARENTS. I am sure therapy wouldn't hurt. It may even help the parents teach the child empathy. But,again I fully blame the parents given the information in the OP. They obviously haven't been very attentive to the child's needs from day one.

Tinker1987 - posted on 04/16/2011

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Heather i hope your kids dont end up as troubled as this kid.because you seem like the in-denial type!! i can see a child tugging on hair or pulling a animals tail out of "not being taught" but to physically smash its face into the ground is highly troubling you have to have a few scews loose. i have been a animal lover since i could learn to crawl/walk i never treated a animal in that matter and my parents didnt have too teach me right from wrong there it was common sense to me to be gentle with animals!

Bonnie - posted on 04/16/2011

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If she won't be a grown woman and a mother who wants to set an example, that is not your problem and I would say the friendship probably isn't worth it. You are better off without someone like that. I also wouldn't give in to her down the road if she decides to finally wake up and smell the coffee.

A helpless animal is allowed to have it's life and you are allowed to have your pet in YOUR house.

[deleted account]

It's nice that you care, but it's not your job to mother this boy. If he's being destructive to your cat, your child, your household, BYE-BYE! Simple as that.



P.S. I think most animals bring out a nurturing sensibility in children - esp those who are 4 and up. Even my 2 y.o. knows how to pet gently. This boy sounds troubled to me.

[deleted account]

You don't have to buy the "he is only 4 crap". He is obviously not getting proper guidance from his parents as to what is right and wrong. How do you expect him to know if he is never taught?! I really find it hard to believe a four year old will automatically know right from wrong if they are never taught. I fully blame the parents on this one. I grew up around a lot of boys and for some reason they all hated cats and would intentionally hurt(not kill) them. It is not right what they did but none of them became serial killers. One of them went on to the Marine Corps. to fight for our country and freedom in Desert Storm and the others found good paying blue collar jobs or went to college.

Sneaky - posted on 04/15/2011

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100% agree with JuLeah - I'd ring social services. They will not 'act' but at least there will be a record to follow up in the coming years if needed.

Charlie - posted on 04/15/2011

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That is a BIG warning sign that something isnt right with that child his need to hurt animals will escalate if he doesnt get help.

Kristian - posted on 04/15/2011

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I agree with Jocelyn. That is the first sign of violent, or psychotic behavior. This child needs therapy. I guess just be glad it wasn't another child, but it could easily lead to that. Keep your family away from this child unless the parents put him into therapy. I know this sounds excessive, but as an RN that has worked for 8 years with children with behavior issues, I am telling you not to take it lightly. Keep yourself, your kids, and your animals safe. Your friend might be offended, I am sure she is a good parent, most of these type of behaviors or disorders, kids are born with. Just be very observant when around this child.

Tinker1987 - posted on 04/15/2011

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omg i hope your cat survived this horrific child. i agree that this kid has psychological issues.ive seen alot of respectful 4 yearolds who love animals.and know the differece between playing nice and being mean.and if the mother is ignoring you obviously she knows there is a huge problem and is in denial and cant face it.

JuLeah - posted on 04/15/2011

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Call childrens services ... really ... there is not a serial killer out there that didn't start with animals ... BIG red flag and she doesn't have to listen to you, but someone does. Likey action won't be taken, but a record will be started and the next time, it won't be whatever he did that time, it will be a pattren of behavior and action will be taken ... did he actually kill the cat? I assume from your post that you feel that was his intention. I assume you feel is was a choice he was making. It'd be different of he was a 1 yr old baby, but 4??? Yah, I'd call.

Jocelyn - posted on 04/15/2011

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I don't buy the "he's only 4" crap either. By 4, a child should KNOW how to treat an animal. Hell my son is 4 yrs old and fairly developmentally delayed; never in a million years would he hurt an animal on purpose (and that's exactly what the child the OP is talking about was doing) No child in their right mind strangles an animal and bashes it's head against the floor. Even very young children know what compassion is and have a sense of right and wrong.

Danielle - posted on 04/15/2011

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This happened to me and I gave the kid a tap on the hand. Only because that's what his mother told me to do though. In your case, I would've put him in time out and then explained why we don't hurt animals or other living things. Sounds like his mom is just having issues admitting her son got caught doing something very naughty. She should get over it and set an example for her child so that it doesn't become a regular occurrance.

Randi - posted on 04/15/2011

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Danielle.... I haven't had any contact with her... And all I wanted to do was exactly what you said. Talk about it and just to know how she felt about the issue.. We are adults . Why can't we talk about it and discuss what we can do about it. As for looking after her kids that wont happen again. I understand that she would feel emberassed but being emberassed about certain issues is just part of being a parent. I treid to talk to the dad about it when he picked them up but he brushed it off like it was nothing. So after hearing form complete strangers that I did the right thing I feel alot better about my decision to stay away from looking after there kids. Should they ever show up for a visit they would be welcome but rest assured my cats and dogs would be outside and away from the children and there would be constant thorough supervision going on.

Danielle - posted on 04/15/2011

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I am just wondering what you expect her to say?



Obviously what her kid did was wrong, and you are concerned over it, but the overall issue isn't something that should involve you.

Do you watch him often?



You did all you could do, and informed her of what happened. If she doesn't feel comfortable talking to you about it then I suggest you leave her to deal with her own problems.

If she needs help, or guidance give it.. but I do not suggest trying to constantly talk to her about this issue. It is something that she can handle with her child's father.



All you can do is look out for your own children. If she comes around and wants to hang out, then do it (as long as she is there to discipline). Just let her know, if she wants you to babysit again, that you don't feel comfortable after what happened concerning the poor cat.



Heather: I completely agree with everything you've said. *tip of the hat*

[deleted account]

I am going to have to disagree with all of you jumping to conclusions thinking this kid is psychotic. He is ONLY FOUR! Get a grip people. I really feel that he hasn't a clue how to handle a cat and shouldn't be left alone with one. I don't blame the boy or the cat. He should have been supervised around the animal. I had my friends daughter over and she tortured my cat by rough touches, shreiking and chasing after him all in a matter of minutes of their arrival right in front of me. She too had a dog at one point too but never had been around a pet after and just didn't understand how to handle a cat or any other pet for that matter.( Just to fill you in they surrendered the dog to a friend because they were getting stationed in Japan and the time of year they were flying it was too cold to transport pets and woudn't be able to for another 4-6 mos.)Also some kids are just rough and think a pet is like a stuffed animal that they can toss around. How do you expect him to know or remember when he has never been taught or was taught so long ago he may have forgotten.

After hearing how he reacted when you confronted him on it shows he probably gets yelled at all the time for every little thing and made to feel ashamed of any wrong doing. I say give the kid another chance and have the mom over for coffee and talk. Let the kids play supervised by both of you while visiting. Don't even bring up the cat. Maybe she will fill you in on all of what is going on in her world.As far as her not calling back, I really don't think she is in denial. It sounds like she is immature and selfish. If someone texted me and said for me to call we have issues you bet your ass I am going to call to see what is going on. Obviously what she was doing was far more important than her calling to see what was going on.

Ez - posted on 04/15/2011

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I would not have that child in my home. It's somewhat sad, because it sounds like he has some genuine issues that need professional help, but it is still not safe to have him around your kids or animals. ESPECIALLY if his mother is in such denial about his problems.

Kate CP - posted on 04/15/2011

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I think I would have lost it on the kid, honestly. I'm also curious to know what happened to their dog? This is a sign of sociopathic behavior and is usually the start of a serial killer. I don't think you or your kids lost a friend, really...I think you saved you and your family a lot of heartache and trauma.

Randi - posted on 04/15/2011

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When it first happened I texted her that we have an issue please call me. she never called and it took her forever to text back. when i finally got her to text me she said that i should have spanked him. i don't agree with spanking a child that is not mine let alone an hour after something happends. for the whole weekend i kept caling and she wouldn't answer the phone .. she outright refused to talk about it. and i don't know why. i never stated that i was mad i only wanted to talk about it like rational adults so that we were all on the same page about the subject. we did exchange IM on the compter couse that was the only way she would speak to me and she justified his behaviour by saying that he has never had animals so he doesn't know how to treat animals which is a bunch of crap couse they used to have a dog. and i do feel that she is some what neglectfull of her kids and they do have a different way of dealing with thigs in there home. his behavior is different from most kids in that any time an adult talks to him about anything that he may have done wrong he crawls into a shell and wont talk . and that is exactly what he did with me when it happened, he wouldn't speak to me or look at me for the rest of the afternoon. it was just weird. it just hurts couse i lost a friend over this and my kids lost a friend. but in the end my kids are safer and that is all that matters.

Danielle - posted on 04/15/2011

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How did you tell your friend, and how did she react?



I think you have done all that you should have (or could) do. The next step would be your friends acceptance of the issue. It must not be easy for her to accept that her child would be capable of something like that, and she probably feels embarrassed being as it reflects her parenting.



Do you feel like the child has a neglectful upbringing, or that the child's behavior properly reflects their home life? Have they had problems with violent behavior before with their child?



If she chooses to contact you, I wouldn't really request that she apologize. Obviously, it would be something that a polite person would do, but if she didn't I would chalk it up to ego. You must also consider that she can not control everything her child does while out of her care.

I am not in any way condoning her child's behavior, but if she already recognizes this behavior, and doing what she can; she may be overly stressed, or in denial.



As far as the cat goes, I would make sure that in the future to not leave the two (your friends child and cat) alone again.

[deleted account]

If the mom won't talk to you and won't address the problem.... the only thing you CAN do is keep your family as far away from that kid as you possibly can. A young toddler accidently hurting an animal while learning the whole 'be gentle' concept is one thing, but that obviously isn't the case here. This is not normal behavior and has the potential to be extremely dangerous.

Stifler's - posted on 04/15/2011

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Once I babysat a child for 40 minutes. (yes 40 minutes) and he did this to my KID about 9 times while I was doing the dishes. I wanted to kick his arse. I put him in time out and told him to stop being violent. I don't care whose kid it is, time out won't kill them.

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