Tips On Cats And Kids
How will Puss react to the new addition?
A timid cat that is over-dependent on you, but hides from other people may become jealous and spray to cover up the scent of the baby. It needs to become less dependent on you well before the birth. A devoted cat that joins in human activities will have hurt feelings, but is likely to join in with caring for baby if you let him. An independent cat who treats you like a hotel will probably ignore the baby if hotel services remain unchanged. Many cats become protective of what they view as a 'people-kitten'. Cats' emotions are different to human emotions and. contrary to common belief, cats do not plot or plan to do future things through jealousy or vengefulness.
• Ignore scare stories about cats harming infants, they are usually exaggerated and are only newsworthy due to their EXTREME rarity
• Tales about cats suffocating babies abound, but actual occurrences are very rare; in many cases the presence of the cat was incidental. There was one confirmed case where the baby inhaled the cat's fur and its breathing was obstructed. Use a crib-net to keep your cat out of the crib or pram - this will reduce any accidental scratches and the transmission of bacteria.
• Get information from your doctor and your vet about cat-borne organisms that can harm unborn babies and take appropriate precautions e.g. don't handle soiled cat litter and scrub garden vegetables before eating them.
• Ensure Puss is healthy and vaccinated. De-flea and de-worm him regularly.
• Establish the cat's new routine gradually. Let him sniff the crib, pram etc but teach him not to get inside them. Let him investigate the nursery before making it out-of-bounds; if he knows what's in there, it is less of a tantalising mystery. You may need to fit a scratch-guard to protect the shut door from an over-curious cat.
• Get crib and pram nets so that the cat cannot bed down with baby. They must be taut when fitted or the cat may use them as a hammock.
• Gradually reduce the amount of time spent petting your cat. After the baby arrives you will have less time for petting. Establish a special 'cat-time' e.g. in the evening (after a baby's bed-time) or get your partner to become more active in caring for the catand giving it attention.
• Ensure Puss's feeding area and litter tray are well away from areas needed for preparing baby's meals. If you use litter trays, persuade Puss to use a covered litter-tray with a cat-flap entrance. Establish a feeding area out of reach of a toddler e.g. on a table in the utility room.
• When baby arrives, Puss will be curious and slightly wary of the new and noisy arrival so don't panic when he sniffs the crib or hangs around. Many cats soon lose interest and look for entertainment elsewhere.
• Keep the nursery door closed or fit a screen door when baby is asleep, but make sure Puss is not shut in the nursery as well. Keep windows closed (or fit mesh screens) to keep cats from entering from outdoors. A baby alarm or intercom will allow you to monitor baby.
• Keep baby's feeding utensils out of Puss's reach and wipe up spilt baby food before Puss gets into the habit of hanging around and doing it for you. Keep cat food and baby food well separated.
• If you get tired or irritated, don't take it out on Puss.
• Keep a sense of priorities. You only have one pair of hands: baby is top priority, cat usually second and most other jobs can wait a few minutes.
• Regularly de-wormed and de-flea Puss. Check which flea powders are safest in a house where there is a baby or toddler.
• Wash your hands after petting the cat and after cleaning litter tray, cat bedding and food bowls.
• Encourage visitors to pay attention to the cat as well as the baby. Don't make Puss feel rejected, the baby is part of his life too.
• Beware that some cats love to suck on wool and may be attracted to baby blankets!
Don't leave cat and baby together unattended; most scratches are due to a cat fending off an inquisitive crawling baby. The warmth of a crib is attractive to cats and though they usually stay away from a baby's face (most dislike the smell of human breath) it is a good idea to fit a crib net or "tent" made of net curtain.
Cats and kids have coexisted for centuries, and it probably won't take your cat long to discover that a baby's not so bad, after all. Follow these suggestions and chances are, when your cat and baby meet, it will be love at first sight.
- Cats pick up on our thoughts. If you're stressed, the cat will be too. If you act like having a new baby around the house is not a big deal, your cat will probably agree. So think positive thoughts, and send your cat mental "I love you" messages. Picture you and the baby and the cat all living happily - and cooperatively - together.
- Keep him in the loop. Tell your cat what's going on and what he can expect after the baby arrives. Strange as it may sound, he'll understand and will appreciate being kept informed.
- Every animal needs a job. If you're worried about the baby or not feeling well, tell your cat, and ask him to comfort you. Believe it or not, that will help the cat as much as it helps you!
- Don't feel guilty. A new baby requires a lot of time and attention, and you can only do so much. If your cat has to settle for less attention from you for a while, he'll adjust. Getting used to less attention from a person he loves is easier than getting used to a new home and family. Please don't consider giving up your cat just because you have less time for him. He'll be okay!
- Know Your Cat. Is your cat timid and dependent on you, devoted and friendly, or resolutely independent? Understanding his personality will help you predict how he'll react to the new baby. For instance, a timid, dependent cat may be frightened and jealous. He needs to become less dependent well before the new little one arrives. A devoted cat that participates in human activities will have hurt feelings, but is likely to "help" care for the baby if you let him. An independent cat will probably ignore the newcomer as long as his own life goes on uninterrupted.
- Check him out. Have your cat seen by a veterinarian to make sure he's free of parasites and in good health. He'll need to be in top shape to handle the stress of the new arrival.
- Set up the nursery as soon as possible. Do your redecorating one step at a time - paint one weekend, wallpaper the next - and let your cat be part of things. When you set up the crib, cover it with a net or fill it with empty soda cans to discourage cat naps.
- Introduce him to the new scents he'll smell once the baby is home by putting the powders, soaps, and lotions you'll have for the baby on you.
- Make any changes in the cat's routine at least a month before the baby arrives. If his dinner time is going to change, start slowly adjusting the time when you feed him. And try to establish a daily "cat time," when the two of you will have a few minutes alone together after the baby comes.
- Close the door to the baby's room or in- stall a screen door, so he knows that area is now off limits unless he's with you. A screen door will let him see what's going on inside, so he won't be tempted to explore on his own.
- Get him used to the sights and sounds of babies. Ask friends with babies to visit. And get an audio tape of a baby crying. From the cat's point of view, baby sounds may be the most frightening part of having an infant around. While the tape's playing do something fun with the cat, like playing. That will help him associate the sound of a baby crying with things he enjoys.
- Before the baby comes home, have your husband or partner bring the cat an unwashed towel or piece of clothing so kitty can get used to the baby's scent.
- Give the cat a warm welcome when you and the baby come home. Let someone else hold the baby, while you snuggle with the cat.
- When it's time for the cat and baby to meet, sit in your favorite chair with the baby on your lap. Let the cat sniff and observe, and encourage him calmly and quietly.
- Keep company to a minimum for the first few days. Both you and the cat need to get used to having a new baby around the house before visitors start flooding in. When visitors do start to arrive, ask them to pay some attention to the cat so he won't feel rejected.
- Don't be nervous when the cat and baby are together. Remember, the cat will pick up on your thoughts and fears. But, supervise any interaction.
- Try to keep the cat's routine as close to the one you established before the baby arrived as possible. Cats are creatures of habit, and they find constant changes in routine very stressful.
- Give the cat praise and attention when he and the baby are in the same room. That will help him associate the baby with things he likes, and he won't see the need to compete for attention.
- Be alert to changes in behavior. Improper elimination, aggression, excessive grooming and hiding can all be signs of distress. Bach Flower remedies, available at health food stores, can ease the cat's stress and restore his emotional balance. And be patient. Your cat will need time to adjust to his new lifestyle. Remember that a new baby is a big change for everyone in the family - including the cat.