Introducing your cat to your new arrival
Today is World Cat Day! To celebrate, we’ve spoken to Cats Protection to find out how to raise your family whilst keeping your cats happy.
Most cats will get on famously with a new arrival in the household but a baby does bring a whole change of routine and lifestyle for everyone. The personality of your cat, whether shy or confident, will have some effect on how he reacts.
It is important to remember that, even though you have a new baby and all the sleepless nights to contend with, you still have a responsibility to keep your cat healthy and happy. Strict attention to hygiene, keeping your cat in good health and taking a few sensible precautions should ensure that everyone in the household is happy and contented.
Introducing a new routine for your cat before the baby arrives will help ease the situation when the big day comes. Begin by:
- Making the nursery room strictly out of bounds
- Reducing the amount of ‘lap time’ your cat gets as you will not have time to give your cat as much attention once the baby arrives.
- Make sure you clear away any leftover cat food as it attracts flies. If you need to move your cat’s feeding place, do it gradually so it will not upset his routine too much
- Make sure your cat is in good health by taking him for a check-up at the vets
- If your cat is not neutered, get this done without delay
- Introduce your cat to any baby stuff you buy, such as nursery furniture or prams – let your cat investigate but do not let him climb on them. It is important that he knows these are off limits.
Learning to live together
It is never too early for children to learn to respect, love and understand animals and it is important that they feel confident around them. Your baby will be about three months old before he/she notices there is something not human in the house. Conversely your cat will have noticed the baby from day one and may be curious about the new arrival so don’t panic if your cat wants to sniff it or hang around. Not all cats are baby lovers however and many will just ignore the new arrival.
Again, a few sensible precautions will ensure both cat and baby remain safe:
- Use a cot or pram net to keep the cat at bay – pull it taut to deter your cat from using it as a bed.
- Keep the nursery inaccessible to your cat whilst the baby is asleep and make sure that any open windows are cat proof
- Keep all of the baby’s feeding utensils out of your cat’s reach
- Keep the baby food and cat food separately
- Try to set apart a time of the day to make a fuss of the cat – it will give you a chance to grab a quiet moment and relax
- Remember to regularly treat your cat for fleas and worms and empty his litter tray
- Never leave your cat and baby together unsupervised.
Sadly, many mums-to-be feel the need to give up their cats over fears of toxoplasmosis – a micro-organism that can affect the foetus if a pregnant woman is infected.
Despite a popular belief that contact with cats can be a major part toxoplasmosis infection, a study by the British Medical Journal concluded that contact with cats was not a risk factor. To avoid any problems, you should wear gloves and an apron when dealing with your cat’s litter tray during your pregnancy. For more information on toxoplasmosis, see here.
Growing up with a pet can be an extremely rewarding experience for any youngster. Teaching your children to respect, love and help care for a cat will help them to become responsible and caring adults. Children learn best by example, so if you treat your cat gently with love and respect, it is more likely your children will grow up to do the same.
Source: Cats Protection
Photography: J. Jongsma