The arrival of a newborn to the family which was consisted of mom, dad, and the cat is a big change for everyone. How does a cat see a new baby, how she will act with her/him? A great number of cat owners who are expecting a baby may hear some scary stories about babies sharing the living space with a cat. These stories suggest that cats are dangerous, transmit disease through hairs or licking, scratch or bite, may cause an allergic reaction. Since it has been proven that cats and babies can perfectly live together, all these stories have no basis in reality.
The cat may see the newborn as a noisy intruder who stole your attention from her. Depends on the cat and its character, your feline friend may become really protective about your newborn. If you have an independent cat that treats your home as a hotel, she will ignore the baby totally. Some cats may become nervous and anxious but with some effort from your side, the cat can overcome this feeling. Bottom line- with some preparation and additional effort, those two can develop a quite harmonious relationship.
How Does Your Cat Feel About Your Newborn?
I guess your cat was your ”baby” until your real newborn came. All your attention was focused only on her. Food, play, and cuddling were just hers.
Then a little creature that cries, smells odd and takes away much of your time and attention, came. Suddenly, the space your feline perceived as her own territory has become limited. Some rooms have become completely inaccessible or forbidden. Sometimes you don’t have time to cuddle and play, and the feeding schedule may have changed. The Cat’s curiosity to see and meet this little “intruder” is by no means satisfied because she is denied access to the baby’s room and crib. Under these circumstances, cats may develop frustration and experience a number of behavioral changes. After all, that is normal, but it is possible to prevent such feelings.
The different cats will react differently to the newborn. A rather timid cat that depends on you a lot, will struggle to adjust to a new situation. She will need your help to overcome the discomfort she wills around the baby.
Unlike a timid and dependent cat, an independent cat that treats your home as a hotel only will be totally indifferent to your newborn. What she matters is daily portions of food and a quiet place to sleep. If she is still getting what she needs, will have no problem but also no interest in your baby.
A loyal pet, a devoted cat that likes to be part of human activities, may end up with hurt feelings when a newborn comes to your home. She will also need your help to adjust to a new situation but most probably she will start ”helping” you with taking care of a baby, of course, if you let her.
How To Prepare Your Cat for the Arrival of a Newborn?
Before we start talking about how to prepare your cat for the arrival of your new baby, ensure your cat is healthy and properly vaccinated while you are pregnant. There are certain organisms that come from the cat and which can harm unborn baby so it’s better to take precautions. Don’t handle the soiled cat litter if you can and when it comes to the cleaning of the litter box, use rubber gloves and perform normal hygiene practice.
Check thoroughly the cat’s health status a few weeks before childbirth. Take her to the vet for a clinical examination to make sure there are no problems that could affect the health of the baby or other family members. Make sure your cat is free of external and internal parasites.
When it comes to preparing the cat for the arrival of the newborn, you should be aware that cats don’t tolerate changes of any kind very well. Our feline friends are creatures of habit and any change that breaks their daily routine disturbs them pretty much. The arrival of the newborn is not only a change, it’s a whole new experience.
Preparations of your pet should begin during pregnancy since any change in the cat’s life should be made gradually.
- Since the cats are sensitive to the sounds (they have a very strong sense of hearing, plus they react badly to strong and unpredictable sounds) Record the usual sounds that babies make: crying, cooing happily, the sounds of rattles, and toys, and let your cat listen to them. This way, she will get used to the sounds that will fill the house at a time when the baby comes.
- Another strong sense your cat has is sense of smell. She will easily detect any new smell and this can terrify her since cats are afraid of thing they don’t know. In order to get her used to the new scents on your hands use baby creams and lotions in situations when you are playing or petting your pet. Also before the baby comes get diapers or some part of the baby’s clothes that smells like the baby and let the cat sniff them. That way, she will get used to a new scent that will soon fill the entire home and will reduce the cat’s need to sniff the baby once she/he comes to your home.
- Make any changes to the arrangement of the furniture a few weeks before the baby arrives so that the cat can explore new spaces and adapt to the changes. Only after she gets acquainted with new pieces of furniture, such as a crib, a changing mat or a nursery chest of drawers with baby’s clothes, start teaching her that she will have a limited access to these parts of your home.
- Start training the cat at least a month before the newborn comes to your home. An effective way is to apply double-sided adhesive tape to the edges and surfaces of the furniture you want to protect. It is known that cats do not like sticky surfaces, so after a few attempts, she will give up. Another option is to place a aluminium foil sheets on those surfaces as cats don’t like to feeling of touching that material nor the sound that their paws produce when coming into the contact with foil. Never scold a cat if it shows persistence in using these pieces of furniture.
- If you expect changes in your cat’s daily routine due to the arrival of the newborn, start implementing the changes a few months before the baby arrives. It refers to feeding schedule, play time and other common activities such as grooming, dental care etc.
- If the cat bed or cat tree or any other object that cat uses regularly was placed in the room where the baby will be staying, gradually move it to another room ( before baby comes to your home). Sudden moving of something that cat considers her own property will make the cat returning to the room where her things were.
- As the pregnancy progresses, reduce the time of petting your cat. After the childbirth, you will definately have less time for cuddling your feline so it’s better to implement this change gradually.
- Replace qunatity with quality! Establish a special ”cat- time”. Let your pet knows when it’s her time, when you are completely dedicated to her. It can be after you put baby to the bed, it doesn’t really matter but what matters it to spend some truly quality time with your kitty.
- When the baby comes to your home, your familiy and friends will come to see her/him. Ask them to pay attention to the cat as well, as you don’t want your cat feels rejected. It won’t be good for cat-baby reltatioship.
How Do Cats Act With a Newborn?
Cats are very curious creatures. Most of them will be interested in a little ”intruder” that makes a great noise and smells funky. As a matter of fact, your kitty might be interested in your belly while the baby is still inside. The kicks of the unborn baby fascinate the cat, so even though she cannot sit on your stomach, she will be very interested in exploring the source of those movements.
Since cats have a very strong sense of smell plus they are fascinated with different scents of the body, don’t be surprised if your cat is more attracted to your baby’s soiled diaper than to the baby itself. Also, note that some cats like to suck or chew on wool so she might try to steal the baby’s blanket.
No matter how friendly your cat looks, you shouldn’t be leaving your baby and your cat unsupervised. Even though your can has no intention to scratch your baby, she can do it unintentionally if the baby tries to grab her. Even a jerky movement of a baby can make the cat ”defend” herself.
If you take the time and additional effort to prepare your cat for newborn arrival, this relationship between the baby and the cat has more chances to succeed. Not every cat is the same. Some cats will be totally indifferent towards your baby while some others will try to join you in every activity related to the baby. Most cats act very protectively as see the human baby as their own kittens.
You might be pressured by members of your family or friends to get rid of your cat now when the baby is coming. Then let them convince you. Cats can perfectly like in the same house with babies. Of course, some preparations and precautions are needed but they can live happily together.