7 Tips to Prepare Your Cat for the New Baby
Posted on April 15, 2015 under Cat Training and Behavior
By Arden Moore, a certified dog and cat behaviorist with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. Arden is an author, radio host, and writer for Pets Best Pet Insurance, a cat insurance and dog insurance agency.
Aah, it’s truly a cat’s life for the pampered feline in your home until the day you enter the front door cradling your new baby. What kind of reaction can you expect from your cat when you bring home your newborn baby? And more importantly, how can you ensure a safe introduction between your cat and your infant?
Here are 7 tips to help prepare your cat, and your home, for life with a new baby.
1. Think like your cat. Felines are creatures of habit and some take a long time in adjusting to changes in the household routine, the addition or deletion of a person or pet in the home, and even relocating furniture in the living room. Cats don’t like surprises. Period.
2. Plan and plot now. While you’re pregnant, take advantage of the nine month preparation time to make your cat – and your home – baby ready. Designate a room in your home that serves as your cat’s welcoming getaway. This room, be it a spare bedroom, bathroom or other room with a door, should contain pet necessities and amenities: litter box, food and water bowls, comfy pet bed, elevated sturdy perch or shelf, scratching post and a couple favorite toys. Usher your cat into this room for a few minutes at a time, with the goal of expanding that time to a few hours.
3. Fake it at first. Silly as it may sound, get your cat used to seeing you cooing and carrying a baby doll wrapped in a blanket during your pregnancy. And be sure to devote even a few minutes each day to one-on-one time with your cat and treating her to a preferred treat or chin scratch. The goal is for your cat to develop a positive association with this faux infant.
4. Practice “dress” rehearsals. When family or friends visit and bring their babies, continue this positive association by serving your cat her favorite meal in a safe corner of the room or an elevated vantage point – like the top of a sturdy cat tree – to view the visit without being forced to interact.
5. Accept your cat’s personality. How a cat reacts to the arrival of a baby depends on their temperament. Some felines are more affected than others. Some flee the room at the first sound of a baby wailing while others stick around and observe with curiosity from a safe distance. Ensure your cat has access to her safe room by keeping the door ajar and then closing it once she scoots inside.
6. Maintain your cat’s health and grooming needs. Make sure your cat is up-to-date on their vaccinations to keep him or her healthy. Keep your cat’s nails trimmed. Or consult your veterinarian about fitting your feline with tiny plastic nail caps for cat nails, such as SoftClaws.
7. Keep your cat out of the baby’s room. Curious cats are attracted to the feel of the warm, soft crib and the sweet-smelling milk breath from the baby. So the best solution is to keep your cat in another room and keep the baby’s room closed or place a cat net over the crib.
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