Babies and Cats
One thing Laura and I were both worried about before Baby A came along, was how our cat Bella would cope with our new arrival.
Bella, like a lot peoples pets thinks she rules the home (she pretty much did until recently) and we were both worried about how she would deal with a new arrival being the centre of attention.
We have not really helped the situation by letting Bella sleep in our room at the end of our bed since she was about 3 weeks old.
Getting your cat ready for baby’s arrival
Whilst Laura was pregnant we were determined to help our cat try to adjust to sleeping in a separate room, in plenty of time before the baby arrived.
We didn’t want Bella to have to cope with being shut in the kitchen at night and dealing with a screaming new bundle of joy all at the same time. We carefully set out a plan to get Bella used to the kitchen about three months before Baby A was due to make an appearance.
We also wanted to make sure Bella understood that the baby’s crib was strictly off limits. We discouraged her from jumping into the crib whenever possible, by clapping loudly near her if she jumped in.
Like all best laid plans the day Laura got home from hospital after giving birth to our daughter, we found the cat asleep in baby A’s crib and it was also going to be the first night Bella spent shut in the kitchen…
Bella is a clever cat
After a few of nights of listening to Bella meowing all night, suddenly one evening she appeared in our bedroom. Assuming I had not shut the door I took her back downstairs and shut the kitchen door properly.
Half an hour later she appeared in our room again…. A little puzzled I wedged a door stop under the door which seemed to do the trick.
The next night the same thing happened again and so out came the door wedge again.
Determined to get to the bottom of this I decided to shut the cat in the kitchen one evening whilst I was cooking dinner. She sat by the door for about ten minutes before she jumped up, clumsily put both paws on the door handle and used her body weight to open the door!
The crib was an issue
Having the cat locked away in the kitchen each night meant Baby A could sleep safely in her crib, but the problem was when she slept in the day.
As the cat would probably have some kind of breakdown if we kept shutting her in the kitchen every time baby went to sleep we needed to find a solution.
First of all we bought one of those nets you put over the crib to stop animals jumping in. Within a few hours I saw our cat claw the edge of it and watched it fly across the room as the elastic broke.
We clearly needed something a little more substantial and so I ended up buying the Inovi Cocoon Travel Cot, which has a much more sturdy netting which seems to have done the trick nicely.
Aside from trying the jump in Baby A’s crib, for the first few weeks Bella generally stayed well clear of her when she was awake (especially when baby was screaming).
Slowly though over the past couple of months Bella has become used to Baby A and now she will happily curl up and go to sleep next to her on her play mat, or watch over her when she’s sleeping.
My advice to anyone with a spoilt pet is to actually do what we had originally planned. If you have a cat and plan to make any changes to her routine, do it before your baby arrives. Trying to cope with a new baby and a distressed animal at the same time is a bit of a nightmare.
I’m not sure how long Baby A and Bella’s current friendship will last, I expect it will be until she learns to walk and grab things, like Bella’s tail. For the time being they seem to be getting on pretty well.