Over our years in rescue I can honestly say 1 of the most common reasons for relinquishment of a pet is the arrival of a new baby. Sometimes the cat or dog is rehomed before the baby even arrives thereby denying their ‘loved’ pet any chance of forming a bond with their new human arrival & even remotely giving things a chance.
Before I go any further I want to qualify my experience here as no doubt some will read and think, how would you know? Clearly you don’t have children? Well guess what, we do.
We have a 10 month old little boy who adores the cats and greets them all with a huge smile. The cats on the other hand are quite happy to take or leave him but the key aspect is they have an understanding. I have no doubt whatsoever that he will be scratched as he gets older, but like I did as a child, he will learn not to annoy the cats if he doesn’t want scratched.
The famous line I hear is ” But the midwife said….” yeah yeah yeah.. I heard it all too and as I said to them. Toxoplasmosis can be an issue in some cats however basic hygiene and washing hands regularly will negate the risk. Having watched the poor hygiene of several so called professionals I can honestly say I would rather eat a sandwich I prepared after having petted my cat and washed my hands than I would one made by them.
Let’s be practical. You don’t have to run & hide from a litter box all you have to bear in mind is wash your hands well and use a litter scoop. Even don marigolds if you have to. Feel free to use it as an excuse to get hubby to do the litter boxes a while, but don’t make it a reason to get rid of your cat. After all you pett your cat everyday who cleans themselves with their tongue…. everywhere! Bet you never thought of that when you kissed them last night?
I’m not being naive and there is a period of adjustment for them all. But the bigger ordeal you make of small changes the more you feed anxious signals to your cat. The end result is a highly stressed cat and a cat who may become aggressive or spray / inappropriately urinate around the house.
If your cat develops stress related behaviours like these don’t look at it as an objection. An act of defiance or jealousy. Instead see it from their point of view.
Whilst you are all wrapped up in the excitement of the new addition your body is changing. Your cat can sense this and may even be anxious from not understanding what is happening. Next, you begin bringing things home for the baby and maybe even shutting them out a room they previously were allowed access to. Perhaps even chasing them from the babys things re- enforcing their anxieties and assuring them they have a reason to be unsettled or stressed.
By the time baby arrives they are SO stressed out they don’t feel safe in their own home. Everytime they go near this tiny noisy human they are chased away, building fear of the baby and often tipping the cat ‘over the edge’. Often this is when aggression can play a factor.
So how do you prevent this stressful situation?
By considering your cat and the role it plays in your life. If your cat was once your baby is it really fair to expect them to understand why you hardly have time for them once baby arrives.
Make changes at home, to their routine, access to the house gradual. Slow and steady and allow the cats a chance to see what is going on, to sniff items and gradually reduce contact if you have previously been very attentive with them.
1 mistake many people make is they take baby to see the cat or vice versa. Don’t.
Let kitty decide when they feel brave enough to come up and say hi. Your cat will be terrified of this strange small person and you forcing baby on them is going to completely freak them out and erode their trust with you.
Don’t faff or fuss. Keep calm and speak gently if you have to speak at all. Should baby move chances are your cat will run & hide anyway. Let them go. Don’t give chase & try talking to them. Ignore them and by doing so you are telling them they don’t have to be afraid.
Essentially use common sense and treat your cat with the consideration you would anyone else in your family.
It’s not impossible, you just have to be willing to try.