Congratulations on the imminent arrival of your new family member! A new baby will bring about a lot of changes in your daily routine. As you make preparations for the baby’s big homecoming, devote some simple efforts to help the feline member of your family to accept the changes that are forthcoming. Cats are creatures of routine and habit, and they abhor changes and disruptions in their life. Taking these steps before your baby is born will make the expansion of your family and introducing cat to baby less traumatic your furry friend.
Maintain Your Cat’s Routine
One of the changes that a cat does not appreciate is an upheaval in her day-to-day activities. It is important to maintain your cat’s normal routine throughout your pregnancy, from her feeding schedule and naptimes to interactive playtime and those daily moments of cuddle sessions and entertainment time that the two of your have always shared. If you anticipate having considerably less time to spend with your cat after the baby is born, now is a good time to bring another household family member into your cat’s social circle. Teaching your cat that she can also count on someone else in the household for quality bonding time will help to prevent feelings of sudden isolation once the new baby arrives. To facilitate this, begin by delegating some of the meal and treat feedings to the chosen individual. As the cat learns to associate this person with the positive prospect of food, encourage him or her to engage in playtime and petting sessions with your cat. Do not overcompensate by indulging your cat with more attention than she has been accustomed to. That will only result in an unhappy cat when you suddenly do not have that extra time after the baby is born.
Introduce Scents and Sounds
Changes in the cat’s once serene environment can also be stressful for her. The presence of odd new scents and unfamiliar sounds can feel like an intrusion on her turf. If you have a friend or extended family member with an infant, invite the parent and baby to socialize with you in your home as often as possible. Introducing cats to baby sights scents and sounds in small doses before the arrival of the new baby helps to facilitate gradual acceptance. As you begin receiving baby gifts and shopping for the nursery, consider wearing the baby lotion or powder that you will be using so that your cat’s nose becomes acclimated with these scents and associates them with you. As you set up your baby’s nursery with furniture, a crib and toys, allow your cat to investigate so that her curiosity is satiated. Any mobiles and toys that emit sounds should be made to do so regularly so that the cat learns to accept the noises as part of the environment, desensitizing her to them by the time the baby comes home. This is especially important if your kitty tends to be skittish about unusual noises. Playing a recording of a baby’s cries is also helpful.
Secure the Crib
Sadly, too many loving cats are relinquished to shelters by expectant parents who cling to the old wives’ tale that cats invade cribs and smother the sleeping infants. This is a myth that has long been dispelled, and cats and babies have safely coexisted for many years. In fact, most cats would prefer to steer clear of the inside of a crib once the baby is in it. However, while you want your cat to sniff, investigate and become comfortable with the fact that a room is being converted into a nursery, you should discourage her from snoozing in the crib. One method to employ as soon as the crib arrives in the new nursery is to install a motion detector that will sound an alarm if the cat jumps in. Another option, which will keep the cat out of the nursery when you are not present to supervise her activities, is to replace the door with a screen door. Once the baby arrives, this setup will allow you to visually observe the nursery and to hear your sleeping baby without leaving the door open to allow the cat access. Alternately, you may choose to install a crib tent to discourage your cat from napping in the crib.
It is crucial to maintain a calm demeanor with your cat. As your pregnancy advances, you may experience anxiety over the prospect of motherhood and you may feel overwhelmed by the preparations for the big changes ahead. Once the baby is home, there will be times when you are frantic to soothe the crying infant. Your cat will pick up on all of these emotions, which can in turn make her feel stressed. Try to remain calm when interacting with your cat. Angrily scolding your cat every time she approaches the baby or frantically walking away from your cat in an annoyed huff when she is requesting her breakfast will reinforce her association of negative emotions and verbalizations with the baby.
Welcome the Blanket First
Once you have given birth, have your spouse or another household family member take home a blanket that your baby was swaddled in at the hospital. Do this before your arrival at home. The blanket should be offered to your cats for them to sniff and inspect as the first step of introducing cats to baby. When you and your baby come home from the hospital, have another family member take the baby into another room while you greet your cat and reassure her with some love. Once the reunion is over, allow the cat to sit with you and your baby if she chooses to do so. Offering treats at this time will teach your cat to associate something positive with the baby’s presence.
Keep Your Baby Safe
Once you receive confirmation of your pregnancy, schedule a veterinary examination for your cat, which will include a fecal analysis of her stool. Some intestinal parasites are zoonotic, and your cat will receive the proper deworming treatment if any parasites are found. This is also a good time to begin routine nail trimming for your cat to keep those claws short and minimize accidental scratches. Once the baby has arrived, never allow cats and babies to interact without your direct supervision. Follow these tips to keep your home and pets disease free.
Welcoming a new baby into your home will be an adjustment for everyone. Watch what happens when baby meets a kitten for the very first time. Remember that your cat was your baby first and deserves no less love and care once your new baby arrives. Between you and other family members, there is plenty of love to go around to all of your children, human and feline. Taking the above steps for introducing cat to baby will ensure a smoother transition for your cat and can help to pave the way for a beautiful future friendship between your cat and your son or daughter.
Check out these tips on how to prepare your dog for a newborn baby.