Your pet can completely revolve around your life and then a baby comes along. Like a new sibling, there’s a big adjustment to make when a baby arrives. Get the first weeks right, and they’ll probably become best friends. Get it wrong and the results could be fatal.
Before your baby’s arrival
Most cats detest the sound of a crying baby, so before the birth, try playing a tape of crying while stroking your cat. You could also ask friends with babies to visit. Keep the cat out of the room the baby will be sleeping in and teach him not to sit in the new pram.
Keeping a happy home
Handle your cat with care – if he is constantly turfed out of the room when your baby appears then it’s likely to leave or turn on you – include your cat by talking to him or giving him a treat when you feed the baby.
If your cat tries to sit on your lap when feeding, firmly but gently encourage him to sit next to you instead. When your baby’s in the pram or cot, use a cat net, making sure it’s taut or your cat will simply use it as a hammock. Finally, many cats end up loving playing with children, but teach your child early on that cats are not toys.
‘The dogs come and get me if Ella cries’
Jane and Bryan Cameron introduced baby Ella, now five months, to their busy household of three dogs and two cats…
“We treated the baby like we would a new kitten or puppy: telling the retrievers to be gentle, letting them approach Ella slowly, giving lots of praise and fussing them while holding the baby. However, unlike with animals, you can’t leave your pets and the baby to sort out their own pecking order. The dogs have to realise that Ella is higher in the pack order than they are. This means she is fed or fussed first. Ignoring attention-seeking behaviour, like bringing me a ball when I’m feeding, works better than telling the dogs off. Now they’ll come and get me if she cries, or lie by her pram. And Ella is completely unfazed by them. She doesn’t even flinch when they bark – she must have got used to the noise when she was in the womb!”
By Sue Rose