Preparing for the arrival of a new baby requires so much preparation. Aside from practical considerations like furniture, clothes, toys – and finding the space to fit it all! – there’s the emotional side too. The dynamics in your family are about to shift, no matter whether you’re new to parenting, or have kids already.
And what about pets? Dogs can be managed somewhat with training, and by gradually implementing a new routine before your baby arrives. But what about cats? Our feline companions are often extremely set in their ways, and might find it confronting to sense all the changes in your household that a tiny baby brings.
So how can you help prepare your cat for a newborn baby? And what should you watch out for?
Here are 5 practical tips to help make cats and babies work in your home.
1. Make any changes you need to make to the cat’s space in your home as early as possible.
Cats are creatures of habit. They can find events such as moving house really stressful, so a significant change in your household like bringing a newborn home can also rattle them, which could lead to behavioural issues. If any items your cat regularly uses such as scratching posts and their litter tray need to be moved to accommodate the nursery, it’s best to move them at least a couple of months in advance.
This will reduce the stress on your cat and help to manage the transition better.
"Cats are creatures of habit." Image: iStock.
2. Don’t overwhelm your cat with a house full of guests the day you bring your baby home.
If you’re from a large, noisy family and they all want to descend on you the day you bring your newborn home, keep in mind this might intensify the distress your cat experiences. An abundance of new noises and smells will only exacerbate any stress your cat might be feeling as it gets used to your new addition. If possible, greet your cat in a quiet space alone before you introduce it to the baby, to reassure them and make them feel secure.
3. Prevent your cat from entering the baby’s room.
If your cat is a bit rattled by your baby’s new nursery, it might startle and jump into the cot, in a mixture of fear and curiosity, which we obviously want to avoid. Unattended to, a cat that’s craving some warmth might think it’s a good idea to snuggle up to your sleeping baby, which could be extremely dangerous as a newborn is too young to turn its face away from the approaching mass of fur! So it’s best to keep your cat out of the nursery at all times if possible.