We all know how much our feline friends love attention (well, when they want it…); having a pick of several different sleeping spots to cater for any mood, or day of the week, is virtually a moggie mandate. Any disruption at home can ruffle the fur of even the coolest cat in town, and bringing a new baby home is undoubtedly one of the biggest changes your pet might face in their otherwise pretty chilled out lives.
A little preparation goes a long way
As any parent will know, babies come with a lot of things, seemingly inversely proportional to the size of your tiny tot! Whether it be the cat’s room making way for the nursery, a change in eating quarters, or an area now out of bounds, there are likely to be several changes at home. Make sure you give your favourite feline plenty of attention. After buying (and building) any new furniture – take her to have a sniff, and give her plenty of fuss and a Lily’s treat or two so she knows it’s ok. Whilst preparing for your new arrival, make sure your feline also has a safe place to call her own, out of the way of future grabbing hands. Your moggie will soon learn they can retreat there to have a moment of down time!
It’s worth bearing in mind that you may be in the hospital for more than a day when the baby arrives, so be sure to include ‘Who is feeding the cat?’ on your to-do list for the big day. The last thing you want to do is bring your new baby home to a grumpy, hungry kitty!
The first meeting
When you finally arrive home, take some time to introduce your (now two!) offspring. Like us, all cats are unique and will respond differently to a new arrival; she may think she’s just landed a new snuggle buddy, or she might make a run for the great outdoors. There will be lots of strange new smells for the cat (and for you), like nappies and milk. Let her jump up next to you and have a good sniff.
Always keep a close eye and hand ready, just in case the cat gets spooked by a flailing arm or sudden cry. Beyond this, simply encourage as much interaction as you can between your cat and your baby – if the feline of the house comes in for a nuzzle, keep a close eye, but make sure you also take some time to admire their new and growing bond.
For the first few months, while your baby isn’t making a beeline for the other side of the room on all fours, the cat will feel relatively unthreatened. As your baby grows, not only will they become more mobile, but they will swiftly catch up and then overtake the cat in size and strength. Your cat will almost certainly be wary of a creature that can crawl after it at speed (and make a grab for its tail!). Supervised contact is always best during the early years; let your baby stroke the cat, but watch a stroke doesn’t turn into a grab. Take the baby’s hand and help it to stroke the cat gently, and hold out a hand for the cat to have another sniff.
Once they’re both mobile (uh-oh!) there are other things to keep a watch out for. Like anything else a baby can reach that looks shiny and new, a cat’s food and water bowls can look very attractive, so keep an eye out. Try and dissuade the cat from climbing into the baby’s cot, and be aware of where the cat is when the baby is sleeping, in case it fancies climbing in for a cuddle. Don’t forget to keep that Dyson handy, so you can gather up as much malting fur as possible!
With a little bit of preparation, and feline love, your baby and your cat will be sure to grow up to be be firm friends for life.
A funny anecdote or helpful tip, we’d love to hear more of your experiences of ‘cat meets baby’. Get in touch.