Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: Your cat is going to be ticked.
That doesn’t mean you can’t safely, successfully bring baby home. A little preparation goes a long way towards easing the transition for your cat from only child to big sibling. Here’s what to do to prepare your cat for the baby.
Get Your Cat’s Head in the Game
The good news is, babies don’t just show up. Whether you’re adopting or pregnant, you’ve got a while to get your cat used to the idea of an interloper. It’s not a bad idea to play YouTube videos of babies making noises in the background from time to time so they become familiar with the sounds. Try petting your cat or even giving him treats while the sounds play so he’ll associate positive things with baby gurgles in his mind.
Set Up the Nursery as Soon as Possible
But I’m only five months along? you say. Yeah, but change is scary for cats; the more time he has to get used to upheaval, the less likely he’ll be to cause trouble once the baby comes home. Set up your nursery ASAP and give your cat a few weeks to explore the furniture – yes, even the crib – before you declare it off limits. He’ll get the curiosity out of his system and, bonus, you’ve already checked a huge to-do item off your list!
Make Inevitable Switches Now
Are there things that are going to change dramatically within your cat’s life once the baby comes home? If you’re going to be moving the litter box to accommodate the new playroom, for example, do that now so your cat has plenty of time to get used to it. Also, remember that pregnant and nursing mothers shouldn’t handle kitty litter…are you and your partner going to be switching up caregiving duties for the cat? If so, the sooner the cat can get used to a new set of hands who’ll groom, feed, or pet him, the better.
The First Introduction Matters
If possible, bring something that smells like the new baby home for the cat to check out before you bring the actual baby home. Some people even take a pair of baby socks, rub them on the cat, then put them back on the baby so the cat “thinks” the baby is one of the fam! During the first introduction, don’t make a huge fuss; you want the cat to know that the baby is just a Totally Chill part of everyday life now. Praise him when he shows gentle interest in the baby and be sure to give him treats or fun playtime while you’re feeding or caring for the baby the first few times. Cats are advantageous animals, so it’s in your best interest to reward him for playing nicely.
Remember, there is NO truth to the old wives tale that cats are aggressive or somehow more dangerous for babies than any other animal. It simply isn’t true. What’s more likely to happen if you don’t adequately prepare your cat for the new arrival is that he’ll begin to act out, marking around the house or ripping up your favorite curtains. In the interest of family harmony, do the heavy lifting now.