There is nothing more exciting than being pregnant and planning for the arrival of your new baby. However, many new parents are naturally concerned with how to introduce their cat to their baby. They worry if the cat will be jealous of the baby, if his nose will be out of joint at the new arrival, if the cat will harm the baby, either intentionally or unintentionally. The good news is that cats and babies can live together. Some cats won’t be bothered or interested at all in the new baby, other cats may have feelings of jealousy.
I have successfully raised two children around cats with no issue at all. My experience was that the cats generally wanted to stay away from the weird-smelling, noise-making babies. They were mildly curious, but nothing more than that.
Preparing the cat
- Firstly, if the cat isn’t up to date on his medications, flea, and worming treatment then make sure this is done prior to the arrival of the baby.
- Take the cat to the veterinarian for a health check.
- Trim the cat’s claws before the baby arrives.
- Play recordings of crying babies. I’m sure there are plenty of these on YouTube.
- Set up the baby’s arrival before the birth to allow the cat to become familiar with the baby’s items. Let it become used to smells such as baby powder and wipes. While I think it’s a great idea to let your cat become familiar with the baby’s furniture, I wouldn’t recommend allowing the cat to jump in or sleep in the crib, as it will lead to confusion once the baby arrives and the cat is no longer permitted to do this.
- Before you bring your baby home from the hospital, send home a blanket that your baby has been wrapped in, so your cat can become familiar with the baby’s smell in advance. When the cat sniffs it, give it lots of praise.
- If you are concerned that your cat may be upset by the new addition, you could try using some Feliway diffusers around the house. They are synthetic pheromones which have a calming effect on your cat.
Bringing your baby home
- Keep the same routine for your cat; they are creatures of habit.
- When you are with your baby, talk to your cat. Make sure that the cat has positive associations with the baby.
- Let the cat become familiar with the baby in its own time, don’t rush the introduction. We found our cats showed mild curiosity by coming up and sniffing the new baby in our arms, but that was the extent of it. Naturally, only permit your cat to come near the baby when you are around to supervise.
- Set aside time during the day just for your cat, so he still feels included in your life. This time may be spent grooming him, stroking him, playing with him, walking him on a leash or some other activity your cat enjoys doing with you.
- It will be some time before your baby is mobile, but it’s always an idea to think ahead of time. Place food bowls and litter trays in an area your crawler can’t access. Also, provide your cat with a place to escape to if need be. We have a large scratching post for our cats which our children can’t climb. We also have two gated areas which the cats can hop over but the children can’t.
- Keep the sleeping baby in a room away from the cat. You can close the door, or replace the door with a screen so that you can hear the baby, but the cat cannot get to the cot.