How to properly introduce your cat to your newborn
How do you feel when your partner or lover brings home a new friend and spend more time with the person without even telling you who they are? You become jealous, act cocky and tend to hate the new friend, right? That’s exactly what happens when you bring a newborn home without introducing your cat to them.
Cats are actually territorial in nature, so when you’re welcoming a newborn home, you need to introduce your cat properly to your baby, else, they might become stressed as they are not prepared for the change in advance.
The good news is that your cat can get along well and get to love your newborn. You just need to employ the right strategy to keep the atmosphere healthy and the transition smooth.
Measures to introduce your cat to your newborn
How your cat reacts to your newborn arrival may depend on their age, genetics, temperament, and experience around babies or children.
Hence, you need to follow the measures below to introduce your cat feline friend to your newborn:
Plan Ahead before the baby is born
As soon as you know that the birth of your baby is imminent, you should start to prepare your cat for the new arrival. Remember, you would be bringing in new toys, furniture, smells, and sounds into your home. All of these could confuse your feline friend as they do not really like changes too much.
So it is better to start introducing those baby items, sounds, and smell into your environment long before your baby is born. This helps your cat get used to them.
You can play recording of a baby gurgling or crying. Start slowly and quietly, and once you’re happy that your cat is used to them, you can increase the volume.
Then you can try use a little of baby products you’ll be using. Try the soaps, baby lotions, shampoo, etc. to help your cat get used to them.
So when your baby arrives, all these things will look and smell “normal” to your feline friend.
Do not touch the kitty litter whilst pregnant
It’s okay to be around cats when you’re pregnant, but it’s not advisable to do touch the kitty litter during this period to avoid potential health concerns.
You can get someone else to help you change the cat litter if possible.
Although cats preen themselves most times, there are few cases where you kitty may get an infection. You should consult your vet as soon as possible to check them out.
Ensure your cat is healthy, fit, and happy
Of course you will be bringing a new baby home, so you need to have your cat checked properly by your vet to be sure of their state of health.
Ensure that your cat is free from worms and fleas and if you notice any sign of pain, get them checked out. If your kitty starts to pee all around the place, it is a sign that they are feeling unsettled about the new changes in their home. But do not worry, they will get used to it.
However, keep the same routine of playing and feeding your kitty before the arrival of your baby. You may need to put their water bowls and food up high off the floor. Ensure you do this before the baby arrives.
After birth stage
The birth of a child comes with a lot of demand for attention and it can be very stressful when you first come home with your newborn.
Sincerely, most of your attention will be directed towards your baby. But you need to try and spend a little time with your cat too. You can share some short alone moment with your feline friend, perhaps when your baby is sleeping. This helps to reassure them that you still love them.
However, you may notice that your kitty will sometimes disappear to have their own space in the safe area. When the settle things out, they will always come out of their hiding to explore more on their own.
Allow your cat to investigate the baby, but stay close to supervise their movements. With time, your cat will adjust and accept their new friend.
Make sure you have a safe haven for your cat
You would be having lots of visitors after your newborn is brought home. If you have a cat that is not sociable, they tend to fret out and become overwhelmed.
So to keep your cat comfortable, ensure you create somewhere safe for them to easily retreat to whenever they are nervous or feel threatened.
You can choose a quiet corner where people do not go through, or perhaps a separate room where they can hide until the house becomes settled again. Ensure you keep treats and their water bowls in these areas.
And if you’re going to be away for a long period, you can provide your cat with a litter tray, some toys and a scratching post to keep them engaged.
Separate the cat toys from your baby toys
Some baby and cat toys share so much similarities — They are cuddly and soft, and they rattle and squeak. Little wonder a cat can conveniently play with a baby’s toy, and when a baby starts crawling, they tend to play with a cat’s toy.
For health sake, ensure you keep your baby and cat toys separate. Keep the baby’s toy out of your cat’s reach and vice versa.
Maintain good hygiene
After welcoming a newborn into your home, you need to stick to routine hygiene. Ensure you wrap and remove wet and soiled nappies immediately so the house doesn’t smell bad.
Bad odors can cause your cat to become stressed and they may start to mark their territory by messing or spraying in that area.
Always ensure everyone washes their hands clean with an antibacterial soap and clean water before touching the newborn, especially when these person have played your cat first.
How do you know if your cat is coping well with the newborn?
If your cat is adapting well and adjusting to living with a newborn, you should expect that:
- The cat will sleep, eat, groom, drink and use their litter tray as normal
- The cat will still maintain their normal routine
- The cat will seem comfortable and relaxed around the house, even around the newborn
But if they are not adjusting well, you would often see signs of stress such as grooming too much, spraying in the house, and more. You can speak with a cat behaviorist to learn how to help your feline friend adjust to the new changes in your home.
Introducing your cat to your newborn requires good planning and a lot of patience. If you prepare your cat for the new sounds and smells that are associated with babies, you help them adjust ahead of time. Failure to do this may cause your cat to become stressed out as they struggle to adapt to the sudden chance.
So prepare your kitty ahead before the baby is born, and when the baby arrives, your cat wouldn’t feel much difference. You just need to ensure you spend some quality time with your cat from time to time. This way, they won’t feel abandoned or rejected.
If you do things right, your feline friend might end up becoming close friends with your baby as the child grows over the years.