How to prepare your cat for the arrival of your baby
28th August 2014
Some cats might find the arrival of a baby more difficult to deal with than others, especially older cats that are set in their ways. But with a little planning, there are ways to alleviate the upset that the arrival of your new baby might have on your cat. Start making these changes gradually, before the arrival of your baby so that your cat doesn’t become overwhelmed.
Your cat’s resources
If your cat’s food, water and litter tray are positioned in areas that may become busy when the baby arrives, move them to more secluded spots in the house. All of these resources should be separate to one another as cats like to avoid contamination when eating, drinking and toileting.
Cats love high places to escape to when they feel threatened. The tops of wardrobes are often popular hiding spots. You could even install high shelves especially for your cat. Make sure your cat can access these high places easily.
As well as elevated spots, cats also like hiding in dark places, such as cupboards or cardboard boxes. Make these inviting for your cat by placing their favourite blankets or toys inside.
It’s important to allow your cat to escape if they feel threatened. Do not block their escape route, otherwise they could find the situation very stressful.
Install a baby gate
A baby gate will give your cat the chance to escape an excitable baby when he starts learning to crawl. Some baby gates even have an integrated cat door opening to allow your cat to come and go easily.
Playing with your cat
If you normally spend a lot of time playing with your cat, you will need to consider reducing the amount of time you spend with them prior to the arrival of your baby. Gradually reduce the amount of time you spend with them, taking into account how much time you think you’ll be able to spend with them when the baby arrives.
Reward good behaviour
Have treats on standby to give to your cat to reward good behaviour. Start this reward scheme before the baby arrives and continue it once you bring your new baby home. Good behaviour includes when your cat is relaxing or when he is playing with a toy on his own.
Introduction to ‘baby things’
The arrival of a new baby also means the arrival of lots of new objects that will seem alien to your cat. Introduce these new objects to your home one at a time so that your cat is not bombarded with too many new smells all at once.
The arrival of a new baby also brings new sounds. Try introducing your cat to these sounds by playing a pre-recorded CD of baby noises. Keep the volume low to begin with and then gradually increase it as time goes on.
Introduction to children
If your friends and family already have children, invite them round. If they are young children, give them a ‘look but don’t touch policy’. Young children can often grab a cat and frighten them, even if they are just trying to play. Small amounts of time spent with other children will help your cat feel more comfortable when your new baby is around all the time.
As your own baby grows up, be sure to teach him or her how to behave around your cat. Having a cat around the house can be good for your child as he or she grows up, teaching him or her gentleness and compassion.