Cat not sleeping at night
I am looking for suggestions for preventing cats from freaking out
when a newborn is brought home. My two (very spoiled) cats have
dealt with visits from friends' babies by disappearing down the
block and not coming home until the little visitors are gone. Now
that we are expecting our own little bundle of joy and noise, I'm
wondering if there are any strategies for introducing cats to their
new roommate with a minimum of trauma.
Well, you suggested yourself what we tried, and what seemed to work (sort
of.) We made sure we *introduced* the cats to the baby when she came
home. We let them sniff her up and down, and in general the cats kept
their distance and were mostly accepting. One of them, however, started
urinating in the house in protest (though, to be fair, she did have a
bladder infection too.) After my wife and daughter went away for a couple
weeks, the cat felt she'd won the battle, and it was never an issue after
As our baby grew older, she started wanting to maul the cats. One of them
(the pisser) simply ran away. The other refused to give ground, and
administered a couple of disciplinary bites. We decided to let the cat
discipline the kid. Kid listened to cat more than to us anyway :-< They
worked that out, without any damage to either party. It only took two
occasions where the cat (quite gently, I might add) bit and made a large
fuss for our daughter to get the message. Then we were able to draw our
daughter's attention to the fact that cat mauling was a biting offense,
and she should think twice about it.
In short: Don't worry; they'll work it out.
We had 2 cats age 6 and 5 when our first daughter was born. Our 2nd child
was born when they were 9 and 8. To make a very long story short, the cats
did not like being displaced by a couple of kids. Our cats got crankier as
they aged. Similar to you, they were kings of the house prior to the birth
of our daughters. They continued to get a great deal of loving attention
from my husband and me and probably too much from the kids. I think the
noise level was very disrupting to their pattern of living. They also did
not like the roughness of the kids touching them. We lost the older cat to
cancer this year and had to put the younger cat to sleep after he continued
to bite children, unprovoked, who visited our home.
After mourning our loss and thinking we would never own a cat again, we
ended up adopting 2 kittens from the Oakland SPCA in July. It's been a very
happy experience for us. As the kittens grow up with our kids they are
extremely playful and tolerant of being carried around, having their ears
pulled and being petted as only a toddler can. We feel like we've
recaptured the joy of owning cats once again.
There is a very good book about cat behavior called 'From the Cat's Point of
View' by Gwen Bohnenkamp. It's a paper pamphlet style book that's a quick
read and good reference. I ordered mine from Amazon. The book explains the
background behind why cats do what they do. Spraying, peeing in the sink,
biting, scratching, etc. It gives ideas on how to address the real cause of
these very annoying end results. Good luck.
I have four cats, and they felt the same about other people's kids too.
But fortunately, it will take awhile for your baby to be able to harass
your cats. In the meantime, there are some things you can do, that I did,
and seemed to work. I had the baby's room all set up in advance of her
arrival, and let the cats hang out in there to get used to it, and to
prevent it from being a novelty. By the time the baby came, they weren't
so interested in hanging out in there anymore, plus, it was a familiar
place/scent. I also took a bit of cloth to the birth in my bag, remembered
to get some "baby scent" on it, and had my husband take it home. Then once
home, I encouraged them to snuggle with me when nursing (makes for some
cute pictures). Anyway, I did not have a problem. The problem for me is
now trying to teach my daughter not to pull on their tails, and to be
gentle! Good luck.
this page was last updated: Aug 13, 2003
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