I have three of the most adorable kitties that ever existed. The two males are very friendly and docile, except when they want to play. When they get that playful look in their eye, watch out! My female cat is an entirely different story. She has a big attitude problem. My fiancé and I think it’s because she was the first and is suffering from first child syndrome. Why am I telling you this? Well, when bringing my son home from the hospital I worried about how the cats, especially that temperamental female, would react. My biggest fear was that they’d hate him and scratch or bite. Fortunately, that was not the case…
So, how do you go about introducing baby to your pet cats? Follow these rules and you’ll be well on your way!
1.) Kitty Encounters
Encourage supervised, positive interaction time between baby and your cat. I call these sessions “kitty encounters.”
- Always supervise these interactions! Never leave baby alone with kitty until baby can sit up and move away from danger on his own and a bond has been formed between kitty and baby!
- Only do this with one cat at a time. Or, if you have two cats that are very docile and get along well with each other (like my two male cats) you can try a group session.
- Sit on the floor and allow the cats to come up to baby. Don’t rush the cats. Allow them to sniff baby and rub on him. Cats use their face to rub on objects and leave their scent behind as a way of claiming the object. If kitty does this, it’s an awesome sign!
- Take baby’s hand and gently stroke it through the kitty’s fur. Eventually, baby will learn to reach out on his own and gently stroke kitty. My son is 4 months old and pets our kitties gently (which shows excellent control for such a young child) in a one-directional stroking motion after only 3 or 4 sessions.
- The moment baby gets upset or kitty gets angry remove baby from the situation immediately, but calmly and quietly so as not to upset the kitty or turn it into a negative experience. Never punish the kitty during these session! Just remove baby. The reason?…..
2.) Don’t Punish Kitty When Around Baby
Doing so will only make baby scary to the kitty. The cat may begin to associate baby with being punished (think Pavlov’s dog) because kitty will think, “Every time I come near baby I get punished, therefore baby must be bad because I get punished around baby.”
3.) Teach the cats that baby’s room/crib is off limits when baby is around.
At night we close the door to baby’s room to keep kitties out. This is a safe practice since kitties can sometimes overshoot and jump or lose their balance and jump on baby if they try to get in baby’s crib. But during the day I leave the door open. Doing this helps dissolve the mystery of the room and some of the mystery of baby… “What is this screaming thing they lock up every night?”