One of my biggest concerns about having our first child was how our cat, June, would do with the new baby in the house. She’s already a temperamental calico with her own issues and I stressed a lot about how she’d react to the new baby. On top of my own stress, our closes friends and family often voiced their concerns and warned us against keeping our cat. I desperately didn’t want to loose of our little fur-baby, so I did a good amount of research online to help acclimate and transition our cat for the arrival of our new baby.
Background of Our Cat
June is a calico, which are known for being temperamental and often difficult cats. I took her in several years ago as a really small kitchen from a home that no longer wanted her. She was very young. Likely, too young to be separated from her mother and other kittens. She didn’t get too much interaction from people for the first few months of her life and often spent most of her day locked in a room before she came to live with me. I think this made her extra scared of humans, especially new people.
It’s taken us many years to get to a point where June is more comfortable around humans and any changes in her environment. We meet with several different vets, tried many difference approaches over the years, but it wasn’t until about year or two ago did we feel like our cat was “normal.” So, the impending arrival of our daughter had me all freaked out that June would regress and we’d be dealing with a very difficult cat again.
Preparing Your Cat Before The Baby Arrives
Before our new baby arrived I did many things to help acclimate June.
- Washed and stored the new baby’s clothing and blankets so they would smell like our home. Cats communicate with the world often through smells. By making the baby’s stuff smell like her home the hope was she would view them as normal and just part of her home.
- Introduce the new baby products in the home gradually. This was a big that I think really helped our cat. She’s very sensitive to changes in her environment, so it was important that we gradually added baby items throughout the home. We added new pieces to the nursery overtime and well before baby arrived. She didn’t seem to mind the new furniture pieces. She loved the Snuggle Me and often thought it was her new cat bed. One thing that terrified our cat was the Rock-n-Play. We started by just adding the assembled Rock-n-Play to the living room (it’s likely future home when baby arrived). A few days later we would turn it on for a few minutes and gradually turned on the other functions over a few weeks. After a few weeks, she was not scared of the Rock-n-Play and walk right past it without any attention.
- Talk to and cuddle your cat. This one might seem weird, but I felt like our cat knew something had changed about my body during pregnancy. I tried to talk to her gently about it and cuddled up with her on the couch when she wanted in hopes that she would “bond” with the growing baby a little bit. Not sure if this one actually worked but cuddles and talking can’t hurt even it makes me sound like a weirdo.
- Catify your house. Most cats are either “bush dwellers” or “tree dwellers.” June is definitely a bush dweller, so we made sure to have safe spots for her throughout the home. As our daughter is getting mobile now we’ll be adding more spots for June to get up and out of her way and grasp!
- Consider adding stress-reducing cat scented products like Feliway. We’ve used Feliway for many years with June. We did add a diffuser for her in the upstairs of our house before the baby arrived and left it going for awhile after she came home.
When The Baby Arrives
We didn’t have big routine for how we were going to introduce June to the baby. We opted for the business as usually approach.
- Keep things business as normal. Don’t force a big introduction. What we did was just bring our daughter inside in her carseat. Took the baby out of the carseat and let June sniff away. June was skittish at first, but after a few minutes of sniffing she relaxed. Also, we tried to keep June’s feeding schedule the same and attend to her cat box to keep it clean.
- Keep the cat away from or out of the room the baby is sleeping in. This was never an issue for us, but for safety be sure to keep you cat away from your baby and baby’s head when sleeping. Cats often try to find cozy, warm spots to sleep.
- Continue to give your cat attention and play time. June is a cat that definitely needs lots of playtime. We try to play with her often to keep her happy.
Hope all these tips help! Our cat has had a great transition and now even lets our little 7 month old pet her very gently under our supervision of course!