What is the best way to introduce my cat to my new baby?
When to start, what sort of routine to create
One of the concerns pregnant women have is the impact the child will have on the entire household. This includes other children, pets, and relatives. If you have a cat, your primary concern is whether it is safe to have it around the baby. The answer is yes, but it’s essential to learn how to go about it. Note that your cat may not be receptive to the new changes in the family and will need time and a lot of love and assurance to adjust. How can you make the process easier?
One of the things you should continuously remember is that cats love routine. A slight change to what is perceived as usual can lead to stress and aggression. A cat may not accept the baby immediately, but if you do it the right way, you will ensure that they have a loving relationship from the day the baby sets foot into her new home. How do you do this?
As weird as it sounds, you should start preparing the cat for the baby’s arrival long before she comes home. How do you do this? Simple; by adjusting the cat’s senses of hearing, smell, and sight to a new baby. Surround yourself with baby stuff and smells. Get baby blankets, use baby powder and oils on your skin and mimic baby sounds. Also, get a baby doll, wrap it in baby blankets and cuddle it just as you would a real baby. Make sure to make baby sounds and if possible put on videos of baby sounds such as cries, laughs and baby bubbling. The more the cat gets used to the sounds, the more it will not be upset when the baby comes.
Make it a routine
You do not do this for a day and expect the cat to get the message. At first, it will resist the change, stay away from the doll and even get away from the baby noises. But as the cat gets used to the baby smells around, it will also accept the other changes with time. If possible, but after a few days or weeks of the routine, lay the doll on the baby bed as you would a child and have the cat stay beside it.
The cat may resist at first but with time will find it normal to curl next to the doll and fall asleep. If you have a separate baby room, leave the cat there once in awhile with the doll. Make sure the room looks like that of a baby and smells like one. When possible, invite friends with small babies to your house.
Introduce the cat to a routine
Cats love predictability, and the sooner you introduce a routine in their life, the less stressed they will be. For instance, make feeding times a routine. If you expect to be late from work, get an automatic feeder and make sure the playtime and scooping time is consistent. Having a routine before the baby comes ensures that you will not struggle to establish one with all the activities that occur with a new baby. When the cat has a routine, it will be less stressed and be a better friend to your baby.
Carry Out Hygienic Practices
You need to ensure the cat is clean and healthy before the baby arrives. You would not want the spread of germs and diseases from the cat to the baby. To ensure this, take the cat to the vet for a regular checkup and give it dewormers and any other recommended drugs. Also, make sure the litter is clean and placed in a quiet place away from the baby play area. It’s also important to have the cat’s nails trimmed now and then. A small scratch can be detrimental to a young baby.
Separate the cat and baby toys
As much as you would love to see the cat and baby together playing, it’s essential to have their toys in separate places. You would not want to have the toys from the cat’s mouth to the baby’s. It can spread bacteria leading to illnesses.
Limit the Attention
Currently, your cat may be the only baby around receiving endless cuddles and hugs. As good as this is now, a new baby means more commitments and a shift of attention from the cat to the baby. When this happens, the cat will become resentful and withdrawn. Some people give the cat all the attention it wants before the baby comes to compensate for the time the baby will take away, but this will only make the cat expect something you are not capable of giving. What are some of the things to do when the baby arrives?
A new baby comes with a lot of activity and crowds. Your house may be full of visitors and noise which can be stressful for the cat and the baby. To avoid this, have cat space away from all the activity and noise. If the cat wants to retreat to its quiet place, don’t interfere or allow others to play with it when it’s not in the mood.
At first, you may want to limit the time the cat spends with the baby. Also, make the moments supervised. To ensure the cat does not get to the baby’s room when you are not around, you can use barriers that allow the cat to see the activity in the place without getting inside. This way, it will not be aloof, and it will not pose a danger to the baby.
As the baby gets older and starts to move around, it’s the cat you will need to worry about and not the baby. All the chasing around and playing may be exhausting. Make sure the cat can have its moments and hiding places away from the baby. Also, ensure it has perches and high places it can rest and get away from all the activity taking place on the ground but still be around to watch.