Baby

How We Introduced Our Cats to Baby

 

So our cats love Tav.

When he cries, Tiger is all over him. When he’s feeding, Lula will groom him or grind her face against his toes. When he and I are cuddling or feeding on the couch, they’ll curl up and snuggle in beside us as close as possible. If I plop Tav in his bouncy chair while I’m cooking dinner, they’ll watch him. When he’s wailing for one reason or another, sure enough, one of them is circling my ankles and meowing to the cat-baby symphony. When he fusses, the other is ready to jump into his crib with him.

I’ve decided they’re either jealous or secretly judging me as a mother.

Lula will even go so far as to hide in his room just before I put him down for the night. I’ll close the door without knowing she’s in there. When she’s satisfied he can be left alone, she’ll scratch at the door to be let out.

It annoys the ever-loving shit out of me, but in a way it’s awesome.

I’ll admit, I was afraid of introducing our cats to Tav when he first came home. Nightmares of clawed out eyes, scratches and bite marks haunted me. And our cats HATE other cats. Why wouldn’t they be threatened by this new little creature sharing their home? They had only ever been around adults and even that was a stretch with how much T likes to chase them around the house…

Our girls ended up loving the baby, but we did take a few precautions to help smooth the transition.

This is what worked for us:

1 – Introduce the Scent
The main thing was getting them used to the baby’s scent so there would be no surprises when he came home. While we were in the hospital, we had my in-laws bring one of Tav’s hospital blankets home. We got them to rub the blanket on the cats and leave it in a spot they frequented – in our case, our bed. They reported that Lula had rolled around on the blanket and I took that as a good sign.

2 – Establish Boundaries Early
Our cats are the worst kind of nosy roommates. They hate closed doors. Even if we’re in the washroom and they decide we’ve been in there long enough, they’ll start scratching at the door and clawing underneath to see what we could possibly be doing without them. This happens everywhere in the house and though we could struggle to sleep through it, we knew the baby wouldn’t be so lucky. We kept Tav’s room shut for the month leading up to his arrival and after a few weeks they lost interest. This also helped keep their fur out of his room.

3 – Act Normal
Our girls are very sensitive to our emotions. When I’m sad, they cuddle with me. When I’m angry, they’re agitated. So when we finally came home, we carried on as if nothing had happened, save for the routine of changing, cuddling and feeding a crying baby. Acting normal and not forcing an introduction to the baby seemed to work well. They stressed and nipped at each other when they first heard him cry, but when it became a regular noise and we weren’t alarmed by it, they were calm. They even started following me when I carried Tav around the house.

In terms of behavior, we had both ends of the spectrum. Where Lula was very receptive to the new baby, our second (and older) cat Tiger was indifferent. She didn’t dislike him but unless she was in a good mood, didn’t really care to get close to him either.

I can really only speak from the cat perspective. Introducing any pet to baby can be scary for a new mom, but with proper attention and patience, it’s a simple adjustment. Our cats were members of our family and they weren’t going anywhere. We had to help them get used to the newest member.

In our minds, as long as they weren’t trying to eat him, we were cool.

 

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