As far as new additions to the household go, they don’t get more vocal, demanding and adorable than a baby. But if you already have a vocal, demanding and adorable resident – your cat – it can be both an exciting and daunting prospect to have them meet.
Here’s a summary of my research and experience in successfully introducing my new baby to my cats.
After a few days in the hospital, I arrived home with my baby in my arms and was greeted by two befuddled cats. I imagined them wondering who this tiny human was and if she was here to stay.
Nevertheless, we've adjusted well to our bigger family over the past eight months, thanks mainly to preparing our cats.
Prepare them for their new Sibling
Imagine how shocked you would be if you had no idea a baby was coming, and then she suddenly arrived. While your kitty may notice your expanding tummy and different scent, the jury is still out on whether they can sense the baby in utero.
A change in routine can stress cats, so it’s worth doing some prep before their human sibling arrives. If you have friends or family with a baby, invite them round.
Monitor your cats closely if it's the first time they will be around a little human.
You can play a recording of a baby crying to get them used to the sound. Move them out of the nursery or bedroom ahead of time, and ensure they have good hiding spots to retreat to when feeling threatened or overwhelmed.
Take it Slow
Nothing is cuter than seeing your pet meet your baby for the first time, but this is a milestone you don't want to rush. Simply hold your baby in your arms and let your cats sniff her when they feel ready. Leaving out clothing or blankets from your baby can also give your cats a chance to investigate at their own pace.
Only time will tell whether your child and cat will become good chums or merely tolerate each other. Don't get too fixated on creating that special bond; let it happen in its own time.
Make time for your Cat
Any new parent will agree that it is easier said than done, but make time for your cat, even in the chaotic newborn stage. While our feline companions are independent creatures that don't need much from us, they do need our love and attention.
Whether you are setting aside a few minutes a day for play, having a cuddle or talking to them, your cat needs to know they have not been forgotten or replaced.
Keep up their Care
It's also easy to find yourself so busy that you forget to make vet appointments, brush and worm them, or check their teeth – the care our cats need from us. Set up reminders to stay in control of their care and place recurring delivery orders for food and litter. If you're struggling to leave the house, consider asking a friend or neighbour to help with vet visits.
Speaking of litter, ignore the tray at your peril.
Cats don't like dirty litter trays, so keep them clean to avoid any accidents on the floor.
As a result, your cat will know they can still rely on you for care and that their world has not been turned upside down. Wherever possible, use a natural, non-toxic litter and keep the litter well away from your baby or toddler's inquisitive little hands and mouth.