Tips for Preparing Your Cat for a New Baby
Having a new baby is a big change for everyone. But it can be especially difficult for your cat, who is a creature of habit, to adjust to such a big shift in your household.
How can you prevent your cat from becoming upset by your new baby and all of the unfamiliar sounds and smells that accompany an infant? Continue reading for a few tips that will help you prepare your cat for baby’s arrival.
Gradually Change Your Cat’s Schedule
When your baby comes home, your schedule will shift dramatically and become pretty chaotic. Your cat won’t appreciate the sudden changes and may become stressed as a result. Therefore, it’s a good idea to gradually change his schedule and habits prior to the baby’s arrival.
Start by thinking about the times of day that you’ll be able to clean the litter box, play with your cat, and feed him. Then slowly start to follow this new schedule by gradually changing the times at which you and your cat enjoy these activities.
Having this schedule sorted out before the baby arrives will also ensure that you don’t end up neglecting your cat. He’ll already be used to getting extra attention from you at certain times and less attention at other times throughout the day.
Decide if Your Cat Will Be Allowed in the Baby’s Room
You and your spouse should decide if the baby’s room will be off-limits to your cat.
If your cat won’t be allowed in the baby’s room:
- Move any pieces of furniture that your cat enjoys sitting on to another area of the house so that he’ll still have access to them.
- Start to restrict your cat’s access to the room before the baby arrives. Use a tall baby gate or simply keep the door closed to train him that the area is off-limits.
- Place a cat tree or cat bed outside the baby’s bedroom door so that he can still be near you while you’re in there.
- It’s also a good idea to keep some cat treats in the baby’s bedroom so you can leave treats for your kitty each time you go into the room to spend time with your baby. This will reward him for staying outside while ensuring he doesn’t feel neglected or left out.
- Never punish your cat for going into the baby’s room. Instead, gently pick him up and take him out of the room. You don’t want to instill fear or aggression, and you don’t want him to associate negative experiences or emotions with your baby.
If your kitty will be allowed in the baby’s room:
- According to the ASPCA, you can discourage your cat from jumping into your baby’s crib by filling up some empty soda cans with coins. Place these on the rim of your crib so your cat will knock into them when he tries to jump into it. The noise the cans make will dissuade him from trying to jump in again and will train him to stay out of the crib before your baby arrives.
- Give your kitty a cat tree or bed to relax in while inside the room. You can train him to stay in his place by using treats on the tree or in the bed as a reward.
Expose Your Cat to Baby Smells and Sounds
Expose your kitty to baby sounds, such as crying and cooing, before your infant comes home by playing these sounds on your computer or off a CD. As he listens to the sounds, offer him treats to create a positive association. Play these sounds at a low volume and gradually raise the volume over the course of a few weeks, making sure your cat is comfortable at each step.
You can also expose your cat to baby smells by using products like diaper cream or lotion on your skin before playing with him.
Make Your Cat Comfortable Around Your Baby
Finally, after bringing your baby home, offer your kitty treats and praise when he’s safely near the baby. Don’t force him to come near you and the baby; instead, it’s best to let it happen naturally.
Lisa Selvaggio is a freelance writer and editor, and our resident cats-pert, with certifications in pet nutrition and pet first aid. She enjoys producing content that helps people understand animals better so they can give their pets a safe and happy home.
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