Unfortunately, most cats don’t respond well to change. Switching their food brand, moving their litter box, and bringing home a baby are all stress factors for felines. However, when managed appropriately,
introducing your pet and new family addition may result in a blossoming friendship.
So, how can you make this transition as seamless as possible? Parentology spoke with Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies for advice.
Start the Bonding Process Early
Robinson tells Parentology, “Cats are really perceptive, so chances are they’re already clued in on mom’s pregnancy. For example, Mittens might’ve noticed mom’s lap is slowly shrinking thanks to that growing baby bump. Just as a baby is able to pick up on mom and dad’s voice while still in the womb, cuddles with the cat can be a nice way to start the bonding process.”
Begin With Gradual Changes
To help your cat become more accepting of change, Robinson tells us, “As you prepare your home for the arrival of baby, try to make changes gradually, and introduce these changes well ahead of time.”
WebMD agrees and cautions parents about moving the litter box during this time. If litter box relocation is necessary, it’s best to do this over time, even months prior to the birth. Simply move the litter box a few inches closer to its new placement every day.
Familiarize Kitty With Baby’s Scent
Cats use scent to identify their humans. Thus, a new scent indicates a trespasser. Allow your cat time to explore baby’s scent from a position of curiosity instead of threat.
Robinson recommends bringing home an item or two from the baby’s wardrobe so your cat can investigate the scent before the baby arrives. Some options: — the baby’s receiving blanket, a sock or onesie.
Supervise All Interactions
“When baby is home, make sure cats and baby interactions are supervised,” Robinson says. “Cats communicate with scent, so let kitty sniff baby and observe mom and baby together.”
Robinson adds, “Be mindful of baby’s developmental milestones. Kitty might not appreciate baby’s strong gripping reflex, or learning about the world by putting things in their mouths.”
Also on the horizon — mobility changes, when baby goes from wiggling on the floor to crawling around.
Make Time for Kitty
Babies require a lot of attention, but it’s important to make some special time for your cat, too. Robinson advises, “Try to give kitty the same amount of attention as you would have before baby and keep to the same routines as much as possible for feeding and litterbox cleaning.”
She also recommends providing a new cat haven where your kitty can play or relax. As the baby grows older, using baby gates with small pet doors will make it easier for baby and cat to get some well-needed bonding time.
Bringing a new baby into the fold is an exciting time for the entire household, including pets. By taking care to make proper introductions, your cat can learn to appreciate the new arrival as much as everyone else.
How To Introduce Your Cats to a New Baby — Sources
Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies
WebMD: Prepare Your Cat for Your New Baby