As a veterinarian, of course, I have a cat. It was difficult getting my cats used to the idea of having a new baby around and I think even harder to get them used to the idea of having a toddler around!
Knowing that a new baby is arriving is a joyful time but also a very stressful time for everyone including the animals. Cats can take this very seriously. I have had clients come in on multiple occasions needing suggestions and help on how to help their cats to better deal with the new situation they are about to encounter.
Preparing for a Baby
How do you prepare a cat? Slowly! Start by setting things up at a slow pace to get them used to the new things likes bouncers, cribs, bassinets, etc.
The worst thing you can do is force your cat out of where they are so used to. Slowly move things around. Don’t forget that they are there and make sure you make time for them.
When the baby is born bring blankets, hats or anything to give to your cat. This is a way for them to get used to their smell.
Once the Baby Comes Home
Once your baby comes home do not force your cat to interact with them. Treat the event in a matter-of-fact manner, and don’t make a big deal of the introduction. Give them time to adjust to the fact that there is a new person in the house. If the cat acts interested, allow him to sniff the baby’s foot. Praise the cat when he behaves in a confident, calm manner.
Even if your cat takes well to the new baby, never leave the cat alone with the baby. Close the door to the nursery when the baby is sleeping. If there is no door to close, place a crib tent over the crib to keep the cat out. These precautions also prevent the cat from urinating in the crib, something they may try if extremely stressed.
As the baby grows, teach the child to respect the cat, but be sure the kitty has a private retreat to escape from reaching toddler hands. Mutual respect and careful introductions grow into a loving bond that will last a lifetime.
If your cat does start to have behavioral issues and is not taking well to the new baby, definitely talk to your vet!
Do you have a pet and have questions? Head on over to Ask The Veterinarian!