In the first part of our series on how to prepare your cat for a new baby in the household, we dispelled the myth about toxoplasmosis. Today we focus on practical measures that might be taken in order to get your cat ready for a tiny human that will soon appear on his territory…
Cats are sensitive to change. And you must admit that a new household member is a huge change. Apart from the baby itself, there are a lot of new object around the house: cot, baby pram, variety of accessories, toys, care products… In short – so many things to sniff and try (Is the baby pram as comfortable for a nap as the armchair? Let’s try!).
Let the cat get familiar with new smells. Let your cat sniff new equipment. It’s totally fine for your cat to take a nap in the baby pram or the empty cot. If after a few days your cat still hasn’t lost interest in baby stuff, you can proceed with the training part. Your task is to show your kitty that it’s much more fun to play, for example, on the floor or on your bed. The only thing you’ve to do is to move your pet to the chosen play area and reward your kitty with a little snack afterwards. If your cat likes brushing or petting, do this also away from baby appliances. It’s best to choose 1 or 2 permanent spots. After a while you will notice that your cat simply prefers to spend time in those areas. There’s nothing weird about it – we also like to chill in places we associate with comfort 🙂
Buy baby washing powder and use it to wash the household members’ laundry. Start doing it before the baby is born and continue afterwards. This method will help in familiarising your cat with new smells. Baby clothes washing powders smell differently to the “regular” ones. Gradual introduction of new smells will allow for a more gentle process of socialising the cat with the baby.
If you already have some baby clothes, wash them and place them around your house/apartment. It’s best to do it at least a few times (with the same clothes, of course – you don’t have to buy new ones every time). Your cat will get used to the smell and sight of baby items. After a few runs, you can wash the clothes again and put them away untill the delivery day.
Buy basic baby hygiene products before the baby is born. Of course, I mean those cosmetics you will actually use to care for your baby. Every now and then use baby shower gel. Once a week, use baby oil or lotion. Use baby wet wipes, scatter some baby powder around the house… Let the cat sniff, sniff and sniff…
Why all this hassle? Baby care products have lower level of fragrance than adult ones, but your cat will definitely detect a new smell. If we introduce changes gradually, the cat will quickly adapt to the new situation. A new addition to the family means not only new appliances, but also sounds, smells, different arrangement of the living space… All of this happening suddenly may be too much for your resident cat. That’s why it’s helpful to properly spread all of these changes over a period of time. So, first of all, we start with bringing in new accessories, then new smells, followed by sounds and, at the end, we bring in the new member of our family.
I will soon discuss next stages of familiarising your cat with a baby. Some of the advice may also help parents-to-be to deal with the new situation.