Many people are naturally concerned about how the arrival of a baby will affect the behaviour of their cat. The good news is that cats and babies can live very happily together, provided you plan well in advance and respect the needs of your cat.
Make changes to routine in advance
If you are no longer going to allow your cat to enter certain rooms or sleep on your bed, start making those changes now.
Create a barrier to the baby’s room or cot
Cats love sleeping somewhere warm and high, and nothing is cosier than a baby’s cot. If you are worried about your cat jumping into the cot, you can install a screen door – this way, you can still see and hear the baby but puss cannot access the room. A tall baby gate may also do the job, although some cats may still jump over this.
Allow your cat to smell the new smells associated with the baby such as powder and wipes well in advance.
Send home a blanket from the hospital that has baby’s smell on it so kitty has time to get used to the new smell.
Worms and fleas
Make sure flea and worm control is up to date. A check up by your vet is a good idea while you have the time.
Trim claws in advance of baby arriving.
If possible, obtain a recording of a baby crying and play this regularly at home so the cat gets used to the new sounds prior to the arrival of the real thing.
When you bring home baby, don’t force the introduction. Cats like to do things in their own time. Ideally have someone hold the baby while you give your cat lots of attention.
You want the cat to think of baby as a positive addition, so when baby is around try to get someone to give your cat some attention and if he/ she likes food, then give lots of favourite treats. That way the baby starts to become a good thing in the eyes of your cat.
Always allow kitty to escape if he/ she wants. Cats do not respond well to being pushed into circumstances they are uncomfortable with, so make sure he/ she always has somewhere to run to and feel safe.
Stick to some kind of routine if possible
It is the change in routine and all the new smells that tend to upset cats, so try to stick to regular feeding times if possible. Try your hardest to find some time in the day to give your cat some individual attention – this is important to help your cat feel like he/ she is still an important member of the family.
For more information see Kids and animals or Parenting.