How to Get Your Cat Adjusted Before a New Baby Comes Home
Kitten On The Way
With our second child on the way, it was time to get the cats prepared in advance to the arrival on their hairless small human sibling.
As most pet owners will tell you, their animals are their children as well so a cohesive transition between a pet being perhaps the only baby in the family to sharing Mom and Dad's attention with a human baby might be something that takes some getting used to.
Alessa is my brave, three year old tabby daughter who is warm to all those that enter the house finding each human that she comes near someone that will pet her, throw a toy, or offer a lap to nap in. My only concern was that she doesn't have enough experience around children that she may swipe or bite at them while playing as she does to adults.
I blame my husband for allowing her to play so rough as he wrestled with her from the moment she came home.
Underfoot, our huge mass of shadowy black fur was another matter. Even living with him for years, he is still extremely skittish around anyone that is not my husband so I know that a red faced squalling baby screaming at all hours of the night is not the cup of tea for a seventeen year old cat.
This is their home too and it is important to make sure that they still feel safe and secure. Hopefully in a few months they will have positive reactions to their new sibling.
Knowing that there is always potential for a cat to before overstimulated and lash out biting or scratching a baby, always properly supervise your children with the pets. Creating a safe place that the animal can retreat to when they need time alone in a closet or a room that is secured with a baby gate will give a cat a sense of personal space if they need to get away.
Keeping Time At The Food Bowl
Cats thrive on schedule.
For a ball of fur with no sense of time, they sure know when they should be seeing a refill at the food dish. I get a normal morning screaming in the face about five am warning me that I have until the alarm clock goes off at 6:30 to come up with fresh food and water or they are going to scratch the couch in protest.
Like their animal brethren, babies also like a predictable schedule of eating.
Keeping to the same routines of feeding your pets around the same time of day so that they will not be panicked when you are spending time feeding the baby for then tenth time.
If perhaps the feeding time needs to be moved, start slowly in the months before bringing home a new baby so it is routine to your cats by the time of the main event.
If needed to have a free feeder instead, start to transition the cats slowly in the months to come leading up to the baby's birth so they aren't overeating while you are busy with the baby and also having to clean up cat vomit.
Any changes that come to feeding start before the birth of the baby. Cats are creatures of routine and they take time to get used to anything new and get a positive response. Keep to the same maintenance routine of cleaning the litter box and play with your pet. Remember during pregnancy due to the risk of parasites to a pregnant woman and the fetus, ask for another family member to take over the litter duty until after the birth or until done breast feeding, unless OK by a doctor.
With their great sense of smell, cats are pretty keen to a new shampoo, soap, or laundry detergent. They also like to disapprove of anything that doesn't previously meet with their expectations.
Getting pets used to smells associated with the baby early on will help them be able to adjust as they will find that the smell coming off the baby is already associated with the home.
Dab baby lotion or baby powder on yourself or places familiar with the cat like bedding or furniture. When they realize that the smells they are finding on the baby are already something pleasant to them, there is less likely to be any outburst.
Cat owners have all experienced the pee of disapproval and it would be nice to not have your felines protesting on the baby's clothing or bedding.
Cat owners have all experienced the pee of disapproval when your cat doesn't like the sight or smell of something new in the home. Get them used to smells associated with a baby early by putting baby powder and lotion on furniture and bedding around the house so that these will all be familiar things in the home to your pet.
This morning was the first test for Underfoot and Alessa to see if they can withstand the sound of crying for long periods of time. Rather than enlist a friend in the neighborhood with a ten month old and enticing him to break the sound barrier with his screams; I went to YouTube.
There really is a video for everything.
Finding a looped video of a baby crying for six minutes, I brought both cats in the bedroom and left the door open a crack in the case there needed to be a quick escape.
Flipping the video to play, I waited.
Underfoot raised his ears and ruffled up his tail a little and then took off into the closet of safety, most likely on the top shelf of my closet where he likes to hide out. But other than the retreat, no wailing cat, no hissing, no real reactions.
Alessa, my brave little tabby girl was a little more willing to withstand the noise and actually went looking for its source chirping back and cocking her head as if she was trying to engage with the creature making such a racket.
Overall, I would give them both a passing score.
Planning to keep playing the same video clip over and over a few times a day for the next few months, I hope that eventually the cats will have little to no reaction to the sound.
Lay Of The Land
Other cat owner parents we know have advised its never too early to get the baby furniture into position. Understanding that many people will have objection to a pet that wants to sit in the crib or climb on the high chair, if you want to have a pet be accepting of the new baby- treat the baby furniture like the rest of the house.
If cats are allowed on the beds, let them check out the crib while its empty.
Cat owners will tell you, we often get the pee of disapproval when bringing any unapproved item into the home. I rearranged the living room once by switching the love seat and came home to finding all the pillows thrown on the floor and chewed on since I didn't ask for the feline approval first.
Let the baby furniture be accepted early on.
When they baby comes, take care to supervise pets in a crib or playpen with a baby or young child to prevent bites, scratches, or the cat sitting on a baby's head and blocking their nose and mouth. Tents can be put up over cribs and bedding to make a cat barrier while still giving the baby breathing room. A fitted sheet also works wonders stretched across the top of a crib to keep a cat out.
Your pet is a big part of your family as well so still show them the same attention once the baby arrives. Your cat will be curious and want to know your child as well so allow for supervised sniffing and they should be playmates as soon as your toddler can crawl.
Or in the case of my son, maybe not but the cat tolerates him by watching from on top of something to avoid sticky, grabby little hands.