Prepping your cat for a new baby is crucial for a peaceful home. Bringing home a baby is a huge adjustment for both people and our cats. If your cat has spent limited time with a baby or children, or your cat has been your only “child” for some time, many of the adjustments may be upsetting.
Take action now to avoid additional stress and make this time of transition as smooth as possible.
Here are some tips to help your cats adjust to the new baby:
- Do not try to love/snuggle/play with your cats as much as possible right now! While it may sadden you to think your time with your cats will soon be shared, or significantly reduced, showering them with extra attention now sets them up for an even bigger letdown when baby arrives.
- If you currently sleep with your cats and plan on having your baby sleep in your room for any length of time, kick your cats out in advance. You can't supervise while you are asleep. A baby may be viewed by your cat as a soft, warm spot to sleep, which could be deadly for a newborn or infant.
- Review the steps to avoid bites between cats and children pronto and learn how to recognize signs of stress Your cat will be stressed; you can just assume that.
- Change up their routine. If your cats are on a schedule, it's time to break out of it. If they are used to being fed at 7 am, try altering that time and order. Babies bring chaos; acclimate your cats now to reduce stress.
- Introduce your cats to baby objects, sounds, and smells. Some easy ways to do this are simply setting up the nursery and having baby objects out in the home. Play a YouTube video of babies crying for your cats with regularity or consider playing a CD of baby lullabies if you will be using one. Some people find it useful to carry a doll around and initiate the rules you will enforce when your real baby arrives. You can even have someone bring home a blanket your baby was swaddled in at the hospital before you are discharged so your cats can acclimate to the smell.
- Arrange for help so your cats won't be neglected. You will want at least a couple of people lined up to care for your cats when you go into labor, as you may not be able to get in touch with everyone. Once home, see if you can arrange for a friend to provide a petting session for your cat for a few days while you and baby get adjusted.
- Don't wait until month nine (or right before the estimated arrival of your adopted little one) to make these changes. Due dates and adoption dates are only estimates and constantly changing. The more time you spend prepping your cats for baby's arrival now, the less time you will have to spend troubleshooting problems after your little one arrives.
- Make sure your cat has an enrichment environment. By that we mean a home with safe places to hide, scratching posts, perches and window views. Read how to make your cat a home your cat will love.
Sadly, many parents give up their cats after the arrival of a baby because of behavior problems that could have been largely avoided.
I hope these tips help your cat and home adjust to your new baby.