When a new baby is due to come home, there are a lot of things to be done. Setting up the nursery, picking out all the baby paraphernalia and setting up the house, but don’t forget there’s other family members that need to be readied for this new family member. Cats crave routine and need to be in familiar surroundings, a new baby can cause them stress if they’re unprepared. Below are 13 ways to prep kitty for the new baby.
BEFORE THE BABY IS BORN
- Keep a consistent schedule. If baby may change kitty’s feeding times, gradually change kitty’s schedule now so he’ll be ready for the new routine.
- Allow kitty to touch, sniff and investigate all the new baby gear. Unless all your baby’s gear will always remain in the nursery, your cat will probably see all this new stuff regularly. Let him investigate everything so he can be comfortable around them. You can even take it a step further and dab toiletries, such as baby powder, on yourself so your cat can get used to the new scents.
- Decide what you will allow the cat to do and start enforcing it early. If your cat won’t be allowed in the nursery, keep him out from the very beginning. If you want to allow him, put a cat tree in the corner so he can observe all the action from an out-of-the-way perch.
- Acclimate kitty to baby noises. Find CDs of babies crying and various other baby noises and start playing them softly at first and gradually increase the volume to get your cat used to the loud sounds your baby will make.
- Have a baby visit. Bringing in a live baby will help prep your cat for what a baby will do. Don’t force your cat to interact or the cat may react badly. Try to give him treats to keep him in the same room. This will encourage your cat to hang around and not to be afraid and associate the baby with positive things like treats.
- Don’t force an introduction. If you were able to bring in a baby visitor before your baby was born, the same rules apply. If you weren’t, don’t force an introduction between baby and kitty. Retrieving your cat from his safe spot is stressful for your cat on its own, and he may associate baby with these negative feelings.
- Use familiar furnishings or blankets when you introduce kitty and baby. When you cat has had a previous opportunity to investigate baby’s furniture, this can help your cat accept the new baby. If your baby is on a blanket when kitty comes to say hi, if the blanket smells like you or another family member, this can help to create positive associations.
- Use treats. If your cat is shy or nervous, treat him to lure in the room with the baby to ease into the introduction. Cats associate food with good things, so treats may be a great push.
- Monitor all interactions between kitty and baby. Both your cat and baby will be curious about each other and will want to interact. Babies kick and pull and cats lick. Neither will realize why they shouldn’t, so be present to be able to supervise.
- Be consistent. The rules were made before baby came home so try not to change them now. Your cat just used to the new changes and more changes will confuse and possibly stress kitty.
- Let your cat retreat. When your cat has had enough and is feeling overwhelmed, he needs to be able to escape and recharge. If he doesn’t have any, now is a good time to provide him with some tall cat trees. He can retreat to them but still be able to oversee the family’s goings-on.
- Clip kitty’s claws or use claw sheaths. To avoid an accidental scratch from being startled by a loud noise or other surprise, keep your cat’s claws regularly or use claw sheaths.
- Don’t be afraid to enlist help. If your cat remains tense around baby, there are pheromones or supplements you can obtain to help your cat adjust. Consult your veterinarian or a certified cat behavior consultant.