A crying baby can get on anyone’s nerves so imagine what it’s like for a cat who is used to ruling the roost alone. If you are bringing home a bundle of joy, there are steps you can take to create a lasting friendship between your cat and your infant.
Start Before Your Baby is Born
Try to get your cat used to the forthcoming environmental perturbations as far in advance of the baby’s arrival as possible. For example, put baby powder and lotion on your own skin before you play with your cat so that she can get used to the smell. If your friends have babies, have them record their babies cries and play the recording at home for your cat, starting softly and gradually increasing the volume. “It’ll help desensitize your cat to the new sound,” explains New York City-based veterinarian Dr. Peter Kross.
Ask your friends to bring their children over for short visits to get your kitty used to scampering feet, but supervise the children closely so that they don’t make any sudden moves or grabs for the cat. After the baby is born, bring a blanket home from the hospital that has baby’s scent on it and leave it around the house for your pet to sniff.
You should also visit the veterinarian with your cat. Take Kitty in for a clean bill of health. Make sure she is free of fleas, tapeworms, ticks, etc., and update necessary vaccinations to make sure nothing can be passed on to your baby.
When the New Baby Arrives
Clean the soiled areas with a good cleaner so that there is no trace of a smell left. Otherwise, your cat may keep going back. Getting her a cat tree with plenty of different levels will give her more turf to claim and reduce anxiety. She will also feel more secure from this vantage point. She can escape when things get to be too much, and she can get a better view of what’s going on.
Overall, the two most lovable creatures in the universe, cats and babies, can get along. All it takes is preparation, patience, practice and common sense to keep your family happy and your home, peaceful for a long, long time.
A Word on Toddlers
While active toddlers and playful cats can live in peace, human moms and dads need to keep an eye on both of them. Give your toddler some toys to use with the cat so they can interact with each other in a positive way. A fishing pole toy is great since cats get a good work-out and each keeps a safe distance from the other.
If you are selecting a purebred cat, choose a breed that is known for getting along with children. “The Siamese and Tokinese are two purebreeds that get along with children the best,” says Toby Hempel, author of The Cat Lover’s Handbook.
Keep cats from passing parasites to your child, or causing other health concerns, by scheduling regular vet exams, vaccinations, and nail trimmings. Make certain your cat has her own eating and sleeping space away from your whirlwind toddler. And put the litter box where your toddler can’t get at it. Cats need to feel secure when they are most vulnerable, that is when they are eating, sleeping, or using the litter box.