You’ve mastered cat-parenting, now it’s time for the human kind. Introducing a new member to your pride does not have to be a stressful experience. By providing a slow and steady introduction, the result can be enriching for both your cat and your child. Here are a few quick tips to make the initiation process as smooth as possible for everyone involved:
Prepare Your Pet and Yourself
Set up the nursery early. Let your cat explore the new setting and get accustomed to any new furniture or baby items that may frighten him.
Introduce your cat to all the baby supplies and scents. Rub baby lotion or baby powder on your hands so that your cat will associate a positive connection with the scent.
Introduce your cat to baby sounds by playing a recording of various baby noises (such as crying, screaming, giggling etc.) at a low volume while your cat is eating or playing. Raise the volume gradually with each session until your cat appears to be comfortable with the sounds. Gradually introduce your cat to any sound-making toys and devices that may be used when the baby arrives.
Praise your cat regularly. To avoid any potential anxiety, give your cat some extra pets and praise when they are around items such as baby tables and cribs.
Establish the ground rules early. Do not allow your cat to jump or sleep on any of the baby furniture. Pets tend to avoid sticky surfaces, so if your cat views the new furniture as a napping place, consider a double sided-adhesive to make the new items undesirable.
Take precautions against toxoplasmosis. Although toxoplasmosis is extremely rare in indoor cats, it is often a concern for pregnant women. Toxoplasmosis is only transmitted through infected feces or soil, so indoor cats are hardly ever infected. However, you should wear gloves when cleaning the litter box as well as when gardening and during contact with soil or sand. Try to abstain from adding a new cat to the family until after you have had your baby.
When the Baby Arrives
After arriving home from the hospital, greet your cat in a quiet room so you can reconnect and bond. After you’ve had a few minutes of undivided attention with your cat, you can let everyone else, including the baby, in the house.
Let your cat investigate by placing an item that smells like the baby, such as a receiving blanket or article of clothing, in a quiet place for him to smell and get acclimated with the item.
Don’t let your cat feel forgotten about. Praise your cat and give him attention when the baby is in the room. Baby naptime is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time, just the two of you.
If you would like information from an Anti-Cruelty Society Behavior Specialist regarding this behavior topic, please call 312-645-8253 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.