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Happy Cat Expert: How to Prepare a Cat for a Baby

Happy Cat Expert: How to Prepare a Cat for a Baby

The arrival of a new baby is undoubtedly a stressful event for even the most sociable of cats. Babies bring a host of temporary and permanent changes to a cat’s territory and can also change the behaviour of the people they live with. This can significantly impact your cat’s wellbeing.

Fortunately, there are a number of steps we can take to help. By making small changes over time, instead of one big overhaul when the baby arrives, we can avoid those dreaded signs of cat stress. And remember, a FELIWAY Optimum diffuser can be installed from the start to help your cat adjust to these changes!

Think Ahead to Any Large Changes

Think about what changes you need to make in preparation for your baby’s arrival. Then, and as early as is practical, begin to acclimatise your cat to these in small steps.

For example, redecorating should be one of the first things to tick off. This often involves strong-smelling substances and removes the familiar and reassuring feline scent profile from the room. By the time the baby comes home, the strong smells should have gone, leaving the room smelling safe and normal again.

 

Cat watching humans decorating.

Introduce Essential Baby Items

The next step for preparing a cat for a baby is to gradually introduce essential baby items that are soon to be in frequent use. Consider sights, smells, and sounds, and expose your cat to these at low levels so they become part of their daily life. 

For example, creams, baby wipes, and other lotions can all be used in moderation before the baby arrives. This helps accustom your cat to these new and sometimes overpowering smells. New, noisy toys such as baby gyms and mobiles can also be brought into the home and played away from the cat. As for new furniture such as cots, carriers, and changing tables, these can be gradually added to your home. This enables the furniture to be scent marked by your cat, so by the time the baby comes home, the environment already feels safe and comfortable.

Consider Your Cat’s Territory

Introducing a baby to a cat could mean new restrictions on your cat’s territory. For example, a spare bed your cat normally sleeps on may be replaced with a cot and your cat may no longer be allowed into this space. This can cause a cat to feel frustrated and, in some cases, even lead a cat to show anxiety symptoms. This will not set them up for a good introduction with the baby. 

To counter this, consider creating another space with similar resting areas that your cat can access freely. This will help to reduce that frustration or anxiety, and provide a safe space when the baby arrives. This will also be useful if you plan to close your cat out of the bedroom at night when the baby comes home, especially if they are used to sleeping there with you. 

 

 

Cat sleeping on human’s bed.

 

Just bear in mind, this will potentially cause problems with your cat scratching at the door or the carpet as they try to come in - something no new parent wants to hear while their baby is sleeping!

Relocating Your Cat’s Resources

If you are planning to move your cat’s resources – such as food and water bowls, litter trays, scratch posts, and so on – provide an additional set of these in the new area as well as keeping the old. Then, wait until your cat is happily using the new set before relocating or removing the old ones. This can be done well in advance of the baby arriving to allow time for your cat to adjust.

Introducing a Cat to a Baby

When the baby finally comes home, allow your cat to approach them in their own time and always be there to supervise. Provide perches high up so your cat can keep an eye on the baby and still be sociable with you, though without being too close. Remember, you should always let your cat move to a different room if they choose to do so.

Cat investigating a new baby by sniffing their feet.

Prepare for a Change in Routine

Babies bring changes to the routine and activity of everyone in the household. You may be home more during the day, awake more during the night, and potentially have less time to give to your cat. Many cats adjust without issue but be prepared that it may take some time. 

If you are worried, provide activities that your cat can do independently. For example, place food in puzzle feeders and provide interactive toys for your cat to play with. FELIWAY Optimum can also be used long term to help your cat adjust to the challenges of life with growing babies. If you are worried your cat is showing signs of stress or begins to display any behaviour problems, consult an appropriately qualified behaviourist.

Would you like to find more advice from our team of Happy Cat Experts? We have a whole range of expert articles and guides online! You can also stay informed with all the latest tips, Q&As, and FELIWAY product info by signing up to our newsletter.

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