About 25% of households in the U.S. have a cat. In addition to this pet ownership, a good portion of those households have brought — or will bring — a new baby into them. As exciting and heartwarming as it is to bring a newborn home, it’s also overwhelming, stressful, and difficult to get used to.
Your cat, in particular, may have a hard time adapting to a new baby at home. But with your help, they too can get ready for the arrival of your little one. Read on for a list of actionable tips new parents can implement to prepare a pet cat for the arrival of a new baby.
Remain Flexible and Stress-free
Being pregnant is challenging in general. Navigating a pregnancy in the wake of COVID-19 is especially stressful. For example, virtual visits are replacing a chunk of in-person ones. Women aren’t able to stay in the hospital as long after birth. Also, guidelines for best navigating a pregnancy during this time are constantly changing.
All of this can send your stress levels through the roof. Unfortunately, your cat can feel that stress too. A stressed-out cat isn’t safe for a new baby. Thus, keeping yourself peaceful and happy during and after pregnancy is vital. Your cat’s peace and happiness will follow. Remain flexible and as stress-free as possible through mindfulness activities, rest, and keeping an open mind. Your wellness, your cat, and your new baby depend on it.
Take Care of Your Cat’s Health and Hygiene
Newborns don’t have strong immune systems and, therefore, can’t fight off illnesses. If your cat is sick or doesn’t have good hygiene and comes into contact with your new baby, it can be detrimental to their health.
Your cat’s health and hygiene must be a priority before and after you bring a new baby home. Prevent fleas and pests by taking care of your yard, vacuuming and cleaning high-traffic areas inside your home often, and giving your cat a quick brush before they come in from outside. It’s even better to keep your cat inside during your pregnancy and for a while after your baby is born. Keep up with regular vet screenings and any prescriptions for your cat as well.
Play Baby Sounds
If you can count on anything with a newborn, it’s that they will make many different sounds. Whether it’s crying, cooing, gurgling, or whining, your newborn baby will be vocal in some way. Constant noise can irritate your cat and cause them to lash out. In addition, crying can be exceptionally distressful because baby cries are similar to kitten cries.
You must acquaint your cat with baby cries and sounds as early as possible. Start playing baby sounds for your cat early in your pregnancy. The volume should be low to begin with and gradually get louder over time.
Get your cat used to baby smells, too. Because cats communicate with scent, it’s a good idea to start small when introducing new scents. For example, you could put baby powder and lotion on your hands so that your cat associates these smells with someone they’re familiar with. You should also let your cat sniff and explore the baby blanket your newborn was wrapped in when they were born.
Let Your Cat Spend Quality Time With the Baby
If you only prioritize cat and baby time once a week, it will take much longer for a relationship to develop. On the other hand, if you let your cat spend as much quality time with your baby as possible, they’ll cozy up to your newborn much quicker.
Your first introduction between cat and child — and all interactions after that — should be held in an open space. Cats hate to feel trapped. Keep the door open, at the least, to ensure your cat remains calm and can leave whenever they want.
Also, allow your cat to approach you and the baby every time. When your cat makes the first move, you can rest assured that they’re actually comfortable with the interaction and aren’t being forced into it.
Finally, don’t ever leave your cat alone with your newborn. You should be present every time your cat engages with your baby. If you ever can’t be there, close the door to the room your baby is in or put protective measures around your baby’s crib to ensure your cat can’t approach.
Allowing your cat to spend quality time with your baby often betters the chances of both becoming comfortable with one another.
Gradually Implement Changes
It’s never a good idea to spring a new baby on your cat without preparing them for the new addition. It’s also a bad idea to wait until the last minute or become impatient at any point in the process.
Instead, use the entire pregnancy to implement changes and continue the process gradually after the baby arrives. It may take a while for your baby and cat to become comfortable, so practice patience and grace.
Pets can be incredible for mental health and well-being, which is why so many people welcome cats into their households. But as wonderful as cats are, they may not do well with a significant change like bringing a new baby home — at least, not without your help. Assist them in adjusting to such a change by implementing the tips above.
About the Author
Ainsley Lawrence is a writer who loves to talk about how business and professionalism intersect with the personal, social, and technological needs of today. She is frequently lost in a good book.