Q: My baby boy is due in about three months. I worry that Chloe, my little calico cat, will not adjust to the new baby. Chloe has always been my heart-cat and now she will have to share me with a baby. What should I do? I’m very worried about my cat adjusting to the new baby.
A: Now is the time to start preparing your cat for a new baby. Bringing home a newborn is understandably stressful for cats for many reasons: disrupted schedules, changed focus of attention and strange smells and sounds. Additionally, the cries of newborns and young babies sound like animals in distress, and can stress cats and other resident animals. Newborns of all species are supposed to sound alarming and insistent when they cry so that their moms rush over and attend to them.
Help your prepare your cat for the baby before he comes home by desensitizing your cat to the sounds and smells of newborns and accustoming your cat to the new routine. Find recordings of newborn baby cries and play them softly, for short time periods. Gradually increase the volume and the duration. If the sounds stress your cat, then decrease the volume and proceed slower. Give your cat her coveted treats and engage her in activities she enjoys while the recordings are playing to acclimatize her more quickly to the cries.
Another first for your cat will be new-baby smells. Ask hospitals and friends with newborns for blankets and items that newborns and infants have slept on. Place the items in different areas around your house for your cat to sniff and explore.
Keeping a consistent routine will also help your cat feel secure with all of the changes. When the baby comes home in three months, make sure that your cat is an important part of the household and daily routine. Play with her, cuddle her and give her the love and attention she deserves.