Bringing home a new baby is such an exciting time for your family; and who doesn’t love excitement, change, and loud noises more than your cat?! Ughhh…. Right…. The sudden change of a new family member entering your household can send your feline into a tail spin (see what I did there). Preparing your cat for the new baby takes time and attentiveness. Keep reading for some simple, smart solutions to help you get started on your next chapter.
12 SMARTY Tips to Prepare Your Cat for A New Baby
Ease the Transition. As you’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of your bundle of joy, it’s important to set up the crib and other items you plan to use right away. This is also a great time for your cat to explore the new baby furniture and get used to their presence prior to the arrival of the loud noise making, odd smelling infant. Allow your kitty to explore the baby’s room or furniture on their own terms and just get used to the idea that a change is coming. Unwrap baby toys and other objects in advance for your cat to become familiar with the baby’s “things” taking up space and being around the house.
Desensitize Your Cat to Baby Noises (as best as possible). If it’s just been you and your cat for a while, chances are as an adult you’re pretty quiet; and that’s all about to change overnight. Goodbye glorious sleep (but it gets better, so I hear). A wailing baby is difficult for adults to listen to; let alone for your feline. Their ears are much more sensitive. One way to help acclimate your kitty is to play recordings of baby noises. While listening, pet and reassure them in the moment. Offer a treat sometimes too to make it a more positive experience. If you plan on using a sound machine (I do recommend that for the baby) or any of the musical toys like the baby swing, turn them on in advance to get used to the noise.
A New Sense of Smell. Preparing your cat for a new baby comes with lots of different smells. To help get your feline used to the new smells, try using some baby lotion on your hands before engaging in a fun activity with your cat to create positive associations with the baby scent. Try using a fragrance free or unscented lotion. A cat’s sense of smell is much more sensitive than ours. In fact, cats have 200 million scent receptors in their nasal cavity while a human only has 5 million. This makes a cat’s sense of smell about 14 times more sensitive than a human’s sense of smell. Keep in mind, if a fragrance is strong to you then it definitely will be potent for your kitty.
Set a Routine. You may think lavishing your cat in lots of love and attention right before the baby arrives is a good idea. Maybe that sounds like a good choice out of guilt or just knowing you won’t have as much time in the future, but it can really hurt in the long run. You want to avoid your kitty feeling jealous of the new baby at all costs. Setting a designated time to play is a much better option. Perhaps you set aside ten minutes to play with their favorite toy at night or after dinner and give them some treats and lovins’. Although your kitty still needs one-on-one playtime and snuggles, it may be a good idea to start introducing your cat some toys for independent playtime leading up to the new baby. It doesn’t need to be extreme, but it does need to be something.
Stick To It. Sticking to a routine helps your kitty know what to expect. This helps create some calm amid the chaos of the house. In the beginning, it’s hard to set a schedule for anyone. But, you do fall into a rhythm eventually. Find a time that works for you to dedicate a few minutes of play time and attention to your first baby. As much as you want to cut that part out, do try to stick with it. Your kitty needs an outlet too and they’re feeling the stress and anxiety of change just as you are. Sometimes it may feel like ‘just one more thing on your plate,’ but you’re better off in the long run. And remember, you’re in this together as a family!
Create a Safe Place. Chances are your cat already has their favorite hiding or sleeping place in the house, but designate a spot away from where you plan to keep the baby. Make sure your kitty has a safe place to retreat to when things get loud. Setting up their cat bed or cat tower in their own quiet location will help. If you can, set up two different spots in the house for them to have options. Once the baby is mobile, make sure there are places out of reach from little hands. Even putting a blanket on top of the couch can make a world of difference. Give them a high place to claim for their own.
Getting Acquainted. Once you fall into a routine as a family, it is important to immerse your kitty into getting to know the youngest member. Place a blanket or some worn baby clothing in a quiet area where the cat can investigate it on their own terms. Allow your cat to approach and check things out when quietly feeding the baby. Let your kitty to smell the baby’s head when the baby is quiet and contained.
Cuddle Up. We know kitties love to be warm and they may even choose to cuddle up close to the baby. Although it’s adorable it’s not safe when the baby is sleeping and can even make it difficult for the child to breathe. It’s important to remember newborns do not have the ability to turn over or adjust their body independently. As a preventative measure, simply closing the door to the nursery when the baby is napping or sleeping will do the trick. Another great option is a crib tent to prevent your cat from climbing inside the baby’s sleeping area. This is also the purrfect time for you to grab a quick catnap with your kitty when the baby is safe asleep.
Be on Your Best Behavior. It’s important for both cat and baby to learn how to behave around one another. Always help facilitate how to show love and pet your cat properly. Babies tend to get excited and want to scream or grab/pull fur. Teach them with gentle strokes, from head to tail, with an open hand and explain that aloud during the process in a calming voice. No matter how much you trust your animal, at the end of the day they are still an animal with instincts. Please never leave your child unattended with the cat until they know how to properly treat them. Even then, always watch from the corner of your eye to mediate if necessary.
Calming the Catitude. If your kitty is really having a hard time adjusting, perhaps a conversation with your veterinarian is needed. Just like people, some cats will adjust better than others to new situations. Examine what could be missing in your cat’s routine that is leaving them to desire more and act out. If your cat has any behavior issues, it’s important to resolve them before the baby’s arrival. Afterward, you’ll be distracted and focused on the infant’s needs and the cat’s behavior issues will be more difficult to handle. Plus, the arrival of the new baby may exacerbate some of your kitty’s behavior problems.
Homeopathic Remedies. CBD oil or calming treats are great homeopathic remedies to try and help calm some tension. These will help kitties mellow out a bit and find some Zen. These also have some other health benefits for your feline as well. Using a calming cat bed may just be what your kitty needs to relax. Some cats just love some good old fashioned catnip. Try some simple solutions to help them destress a little bit. If you’re having a particularly hard time with your cat adjusting or misbehaving, there are cat behaviorists that can help. Do your research and see what would be a right fit for you and your pet.
Remember, All Good Things Take Time! Be patient with yourself and be patient with your kitty. Preparing your cat for a new baby takes time. It’s a big change for everyone and you will all adjust and fall into a routine. All will be okay and you all will have a new understanding of normal! Who knows, your cat may even be the calmest in the house! If you want to up your cat parenting game, check out our 10 cat care tips article here.
Do you have any tips for helping your cat adjust to a new baby? Tell us about it in the comments!