Of Cats and Babies

IMG_20151103_211237It’s hard to believe that in less than one month, my husband and I will be holding our long-awaited baby boy in our arms! We are growing increasingly impatient as we anticipate our son’s arrival, despite there being so many things that we need to do before our boy actually gets here!

One thing that I have been wondering about lately is how the arrival of a baby human will affect our cat. We have had our furry “first child” for nearly seven years – just about as long as we have been married! Our cat is probably the most spoiled pet on this side of the United States, and as we have been running around getting ready for baby – I think kitty is already starting to feel a bit alienated and confused.

I did a little research on how to get your pets ready for a new addition to the family, and I wanted to share some of the tips I learned from the ASPCA website.

Keeping a steady schedule

Since I have no idea what kind of schedule I will be on when baby comes, I find this one a bit hard to do. However, the ASPCA website suggests setting up consistent times for feeding, play, and attention so that your cat will not feel neglected when the baby arrives. I’m not going to do this one, because I know that whatever schedule I set will change when the baby actually comes. I’d rather wait until the baby is here and I know what kind of schedule I am on before getting my cat’s hopes up.

Introducing your cat to baby smells, sights, and sounds

The website suggests that it is a good idea to get your cat used to the things that will be around the house when the baby arrives. They say it’s okay to rub some of the baby lotions on yourself so that the cat gets used to smelling them on someone who is familiar. They suggest leaving certain baby toys around – near the cat’s food bowl – so that the cat sees baby items and associates them with a food reward. They also say that it’s a good idea to play baby sounds and reward your cat with treats so that the real baby noises will seem less threatening. I like all except the second idea. I know I can always wash them, but – do I really want to put my son’s toys near the cat’s food? Especially because babies like to put everything in their mouths!

The Myth of Cats Smothering Babies

One of my biggest concerns with my cat is that he loves to be close to humans. This is great for us, as his “parents,” who love to cuddle him and give him lots of attention. I’m not sure that his snuggly desires will be so wonderful if he tries them on our infant son. I worry that my cat will jump into my son’s bassinet or crib and want to lay beside him all of the time. There is a popular myth that cats like the smell of a baby’s milk and the heat that comes from babies’ bodies – so they cuddle up close to the babies and “smother” them. I don’t think that my cat will smother our child, but we are planning to set up the bassinet this week and start training our cat to stay out of it.

Overall, I am really hoping that our cat likes our baby and that our baby likes our cat! Have you ever had to introduce your pet to an infant? How did it go?

Photo Source: Elisabeth Renne

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