An Unlikely Duo: Introducing your Cat to a New Baby
Cats are creatures of habit and like predictability in their daily routines. As a result, they are easily upset about even the smallest changes in their life or environment. Obviously, the more abrupt the change, the harder it is for a cat to adjust. This can range from simply moving around living room furniture to adding a new family member and everything in between.
Introducing a new baby into your household can be one of the most difficult changes for your cat. For starters, a cat that did not grow up around small children may be spooked by the loud noises and unfamiliar smells that come with a baby. You may also notice more subtle changes in your cat’s behavior. For example, your cat has likely gotten used to being your #1 and getting all of your attention so when that abruptly changes, your cat could become more reserved and aloof, or in some cases even more aggressive.
Not to worry, there are things you can do to prepare your cat for the new arrival to make the transition easier on everyone. And remember, it’s never too early to start!
– The best thing you can do is start introducing your cat gradually to the new sights, sounds, and smells that it will encounter when the baby arrives. Get a recording of baby noises – cooing, crying, screaming – the works and introduce your cat to these sounds. Play them at random times throughout the day, during the night, when they are napping or eating – whenever you can. Also start introducing smells – baby lotion, fresh diapers, wipes – it all comes with a unique smell that your cat will need to adjust to as well.
– Additionally, if you have friends that have small children, it might help to have them bring their kids for more frequent visits. Young children tend to make sudden and abrupt movements, which tends to startle even the most stoic cat.
– Start associating small rewards or treats with positive reactions to changes, thereby making them exciting instead of upsetting.
– While it’s hard, resist the urge to pay extra attention to your cat before the baby’s due date. This will only lead to more disappointment when your attention is devoted to someone else. Instead, start setting aside specific time to be alone with your cat instead of showering your cat with affection throughout the day. Getting your feline friend used to this special time before the baby’s arrival and continuing it afterward will help your cat feel less neglected.
– Place Feliway diffusers throughout the house to help your cat feel secure and comfortable. These give off synthetic pheromones that mimic the marking that cats use when they rub against furniture or your leg. It helps them feel secure and in control of their space. Placing the diffusers throughout your house or even in just your cat’s favorite spots can help reduce their overall stress.
– And last but not least – talk to your vet! We’re here to help and if you’re worried or have additional concerns about the new arrival getting along with your cat – let us know.
If you are not able to prepare your cat before the baby’s arrival, don’t worry. It is not too late to help your cat get used to the new addition. Here are some things you can do after the baby has arrived:
– Continue to reward your cat for good behavior around the baby with small treats and affection. Associate things your cat likes with the baby.
– Move anything that your cat likes (furniture, blankets, etc.) out of the baby’s room if you decide that that space is off-limits to your feline friend.
– Arrange perches in higher areas around the house to which your cat can retreat when it wants to be out of your baby’s reach. Catifying your space in general can help your cat’s overall stress level.
– Make sure the litter box is in a quiet and private location where your cat is least likely to be interrupted.
– Minimize other changes for your cat. If you’d been thinking about moving furniture or switching your cat’s litter – now is not the time! Hold off until your cat has adjusted to the new family member before attempting to change anything else.
It’s also important as your baby grows and learns, to teach them how to pet the cat and approach the cat. It’s never too early to start learning and reinforcing good habits! Remember while it may be cute, never force your cat to interact with a child. It can be very dangerous – pets and small children should never be left unattended.
Ultimately, the most important thing to remember is that your cat needs to feel loved and will need some of your attention too. With preparation and patience, your furry family can help you welcome the newest member with enough love to go around.