About 25% of households in the United States have cats. In addition to owning a cat, a large percentage of these households have or plan to bring a newborn into their home. Welcoming a newborn can be exciting and thrilling, but it can also be overwhelming, stressful, and difficult to adjust to.
Your cat, in particular, may have a hard time adjusting to a new baby in your home. But with your help, they can prepare for the arrival of their little one. Read our list of tips on what new parents can do to prepare their pet cat for the arrival of a new baby.
Stay flexible and don’t stress
Pregnancy in general can be challenging; getting through it can be especially stressful in the wake of COVID-19. For example, virtual visits have largely replaced face-to-face visits. Postpartum hospitalizations were also not long enough. In addition, guidelines for successfully navigating pregnancy during this time are changing.
All of this can cause your stress levels to skyrocket. Unfortunately, cats feel stress too. Stressed cats are not safe for newborns either. That’s why it’s so important that you yourself remain calm and happy during and after your pregnancy. Your cat will be peaceful and happy with it. Stay flexible and avoid stress as much as possible through positive thinking activities, rest and an open mind. Your health, your cat and the baby in your womb depend on it.
Take care of your cat’s health and hygiene.
Newborns do not have a strong immune system to fight off disease. If your cat is sick or has poor hygiene and comes into contact with your newborn, it could negatively affect the baby.
Whether before or after welcoming your newborn, it is important that you prioritize your cat’s health and hygiene. Keep your garden tidy, vacuum high-traffic areas of your home regularly, and give your cat a quick brush before she comes in from outside to keep fleas and pests at bay. It is best to keep your cat indoors during pregnancy and for some time after giving birth. Don’t forget to have regular veterinary checkups and prescriptions for your cat.
Let your baby purr
Newborns make all sorts of sounds. Whether it’s crying, cooing, gurgling or purring, newborns make some form of noise. Constant noise can irritate a cat and cause it to lash out. A baby’s cry is similar to a kitten’s cry, so crying can also be very distressing to a cat.
The baby should be accustomed to the cat’s cries and purrs as soon as possible. Play the baby’s cries for your cat from the beginning of pregnancy. Start with a low volume and gradually increase it over time.
Get them used to the baby’s scent as well. Cats communicate through scent, so start small when introducing new scents. For example, apply baby talcum powder or lotion to your hands so your cat associates these scents with people it knows well. You can also let them smell and explore a baby blanket that your newborn is wrapped in.
Enriching cat and baby time together
If you only prioritize cat and baby time once a week, it will take longer to bond. Conversely, if you allow your cat to spend as much time as possible with the baby, then the cat will soon become attached to the newborn.
All initial and subsequent interactions between the cat and the baby should take place in an open area. Cats do not like to be tied down. At the very least, leave the door open so the cat can remain calm and be ready to leave at any time.
Also allow the cat to approach you and the baby one at a time. If the cat takes the first step, it will be reassured that it is used to the interaction and not forced into it.
Finally, never leave your newborn alone with your cat. You should always be present when the cat interacts with the baby. If you cannot be present, close the door to the room where the baby is or take protective measures to keep the cat away from the area around the crib.
Allowing your cat to spend quality time with your baby will increase the likelihood of mutual comfort.
It’s not a good idea to suddenly welcome a baby when your cat isn’t ready. Waiting until the last minute or rushing is not a good idea either.
Instead, use the entire pregnancy to introduce changes and continue to make gradual progress after the baby is born. It may take a while for baby and cat to adjust.
Pets are great for mental health and well-being, which is why many people welcome cats into the family. However, as great as cats are, they may not cope well with major changes in the family, such as welcoming a new baby. At least, not without your help. Follow the tips above to help your cat adjust to these changes.
by Ainsley Lawrence.