ENSURING HAPPY NEW ARRIVALS!
We know that cats and babies can get on purrfectly but when you first bring baby home, you might find that your cat feels some stress if they are not prepared for change in advance!
Don't forget, your furry friend has been the centre of your attention for a while, preparation for a new human arrival is just as important as preparing to bring another kitten into your home.
How your cat reacts to a new arrival very much depends on their age, temperament, genetics and experience around children or babies so it's wise to take all of this into account and prepare accordingly.
1. PLAN AHEAD - BEFORE THE BABY ARRIVES!
As soon as you know about the imminent patter of tiny feet, start to prepare! Of course, you will be preparing for your new baby, but you must also prepare your cat for the new arrival. You will be introducing new furniture, toys, sounds and smells into the home which could confuse your kitty - we know that cats don't like change too much! The earlier you start to introduce these into the environment, the more time your pet will have to get used to them.
2. BE CAREFUL AROUND KITTY LITTER WHILST PREGNANT!
It's perfectly fine to be around cats when you are pregnant. However, pregnant ladies should try to have someone else change the cat litter if possible, to avoid contact - which can have potential health concerns.
Cats are clean animals, always preening themselves, but make sure that if they do get poorly or get an infection, you have them checked out as quickly as possible by the vet.
3. GET YOUR CAT USED TO BABY SOUNDS
New sounds in the house might unsettle your cat, so prepare them gradually for the new arrival by playing recordings of a baby crying or gurgling. Introduce the sounds slowly and quietly to start with, increasing the volume once you are happy that your cat is used to them.
4. INTRODUCE BABY SMELLS AND OBJECTS
We're not talking baby nappies yet, but as a cat's primary sense is smell, try and use a little of the baby products you'll need on your skin - soaps, shampoo, baby lotions etc. so that your cat gets used to them, along with your familiar 'safe' smell. That way when your baby arrives, they will smell 'normal' to your cat.
Cats like familiar objects around them, so try and introduce new things like cots, high chairs and buggies, gradually. Give your cat time to get used to these one at a time so that they don't get confused and unsettled. If you start well in advance of baby's arrival, your cat will have explored and accepted the new items in the home.
5. MAKE SURE YOUR CAT IS FIT, HAPPY AND HEALTHY
It's good practice to have your feline friend checked regularly by your vet, but it's particularly key when you will be bringing a new baby home.
Make sure they are free from fleas and worms and if you think they are under the weather or in pain, you should get them checked out. If they start to spray or pee in the house, it could be a sign that they are concerned about all the changes in their home, and they are feeling unsettled.
Keep the same routine for feeding and playing with your kitty before and after your baby arrives, but if you need to make changes in their routine - for example, you may need to put their food and water bowls off the floor and up high - make sure these are introduced before the new arrival.
6. FIRST INTRODUCTIONS
Although it will be very exciting when you come home with your new baby bundle, it can also be a very stressful time and most of your attention will be directed towards the baby. However, try to spend some quiet time with your cat too. Take some time out to be alone with kitty to reassure them that you still love them and they are still a priority!
You may find that kitty disappears during all the fuss and excitement to have their own space in the safe area but once things settle, they will come out of hiding and start to explore on their own.
Let them investigate the baby under your supervision - this way they will adjust gradually. However, never leave the baby unattended with the cat in the same room.
7. MAKE SURE THEY HAVE A SAFE HAVEN
Your home will be an open house when you bring your new baby home - you will have lots of visitors! If your cat is sociable, they may not worry about this, but if they are nervous they might get a little scared and overwhelmed.
To avoid this, make sure they have somewhere they can retreat to. A quiet corner away from people traffic, or perhaps a separate room where they can snuggle away until peace returns to the household. Make sure there are treats available and their water bowl is close. If you are likely to be away for a long period, also make sure they have a litter tray available, along with some toys and a scratching post to keep them occupied.
8. KEEP BABY AND CAT TOYS SEPARATE
Baby and cat toys are amazingly similar! They are soft and cuddly, and they squeak and rattle so it's not a surprise that a cat can frequently be found playing with a baby's toy and conversely when the baby starts crawling, they will play with the cat's toys.
Try to keep the baby's toys up high out of cat's reach and keep the cat's toys separate and only leave a few around or get them out to play with your kitty at their playtime.
9. ROUTINE HYGIENE
Wrap and remove soiled and wet nappies immediately so that they don't leave odours around. If left lying around, your cat may become stressed by the strong odours or try to mark their territory by spraying or messing in that area - best avoided!
Always make sure that everyone washes their hands and cleans them with an antibacterial soap before holding the baby - particularly if they have been playing with the cat first.
Following the steps above will greatly help introductions between your new baby and your cat, and to provide reassurance, use FELIWAY Optimum Diffuser which helps relieve the worry and stress from new situations and provides constant comfort for your cat.