Bringing a new baby into your family is an exciting time! And if you already have a feline family member, you may wonder how they might react to a new addition to the family - and what you can do to support them.
We all know that kitties aren't big on change, so we've put together some tips to help you support your cat as they adapt to a new scent profile in the home, new noises, new objects and a change in routine!
Understanding How Scent Can Impact Your Kitty
Cats have the most amazing sense of smell! The family scent profile in your home is important to them and they deposit their scent around the home to help them feel reassured. During pregnancy, the change in hormones will alter the scent of the woman slightly which kitties can detect.
You might notice your kitty rubbing themselves on you more often as they 'update' the family scent. Other cats might be upset by this perceived change and their stress may become clear through increased scratching of objects, other than their scratching post, or urine spraying.
Prepare Your Kitty For Changes Around The Home
New Furniture and Equipment
As you prepare for your new human bundle of joy, it's important to remember that your feline friend isn't a fan of change! When preparing for the arrival of your baby, you're likely to be making changes to the home - for example decorating a nursery - as well as bringing lots of new baby equipment into the home but, as you introduce new baby equipment into the home, make sure you let your cat investigate them in their own time and on their own terms.
If you need to move any of your kitty's resources, do this gradually over a period of time to help them adjust - and ensure they're kept to low traffic areas of the house. You'll also want to start limiting your kitty's access to the nursery if they've been used to accessing all areas of the house. Make sure that your kitty can still continue to access their favourite hiding and resting spots so they can go and get some peace and quiet.
Getting your cat slowly used to baby sounds before the baby arrives will help them adapt. There are sound training tracks available online that you can play - quietly at first - at times when nothing else stressful for your cat is happening (for example, don't do it when the washing machine or hoover are on).
Slowly increase the volume of the sounds as your cat gets used to them. If your kitty starts to look uncomfortable or fearful, return to a lower volume next time, gradually turning it up again till they get used to it.
As we highlighted above, the family scent profile of your home will change during pregnancy as well as once your baby arrives. However, there are some ways to gradually prepare your kitty for the new smells. For example, start to use the baby lotions and products you plan to use so they become part of the normal household smell.
Also consider inviting a friend or family member with a baby to your home for visits so that the new smell and sounds of the baby are introduced. Don't force your kitty to interact with the visitors, but ensure you have treats at hand to reward them if they come to investigate.
Make sure your kitty is up to date with their preventative healthcare needs (e.g. vaccinations and parasite treatments) well in advance of the arrival of your baby. Pregnant women should also be aware that various bugs and toxoplasma is one of these; contact with cats was shown by a study in the British Medical Journal not to be a significant risk factor for toxoplasma infection - infection is more likely through contact with contaminated soil when gardening without gloves, eating unwashed fruit and veg or eating undercooked meat), but there are still measures that should be taken to reduce the risk:
- Get someone else to clean out your kitty's litter tray (or wear a disposable apron and gloves). It is still important to clean the litter tray daily, to keep your kitty happy and to reduce the possibility of toxoplasmosis spores developing from infected faeces.
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water after handling your cat.
- Cover children's sandpits.
Nurture Your Relationship With Your Kitty
Welcoming a baby is a busy time! However, it's important to ensure your feline friend still gets lots of attention and that you keep them entertained. Try and incorporate a regular daily play time with your kitty that you can continue when the baby arrives so that they have some dedicated time with you and this also helps them keep active.
Consider introducing your cat to puzzles or activity feeders if they don't already use them as these help keep your cat entertained and mentally stimulated. If your kitty is a lap cat, try and encourage them to sleep next to you rather than on you, in preparation for when there's no space when your baby arrives.
Help Your Cat Feel More Serene!
Remind yourself of your cat's body language so that you can recognise when your furry friend is feeling stressed and take steps to help them feel more secure. Also consider plugging in FELIWAY Optimum before your baby is due to arrive and continue using it, to provide your kitty with constant reassurance as they adapt to the changes that are occurring. Clinically proven and recommended by vets, FELIWAY Optimum is the best solution to solve all common signs of stress and help your kitty feel more serene!