Our cat, Orla Kitty, is a very important member of our family. When we were planning to have a baby, one thing we agreed on was that we would make lots of effort to get the cat ready for having a baby in the house. We felt as though we knew our cat very well and that she is very chilled, so didn’t anticipate any problems – but we were moving house whilst I was pregnant, the cat and I moved twice in fact, as we had to stay with my mum for five weeks. So the cat was put through a lot of changes in a short space of time.
Here is how we tried to get Orla ready for the baby:
1.Feliway defuser plugins
These defusers omit pheromones which are similar to those that a cat would secrete when they mark their territory – like if you’ve ever seen your cat rubbing their cheeks on something to mark it with their own scent. I guess it is tricking the cat in a way, to think that it is a safe environment that smells of them until they get used to it. If the cat gets stressed by the new baby, but the place still smells of them, they are less likely to be stressed. We used these for two months in a row, because we had to get her used to being at my mum’s house, then the new house, then three weeks later; having a baby in the new house.
2.Allowing her to explore the nursery
Rightly or wrongly, we kept the door of the nursery open for Orla to explore ahead of the baby being born. Once she found there was nothing of interest in there for her, she stopped going in. As she was getting used to the new house, she liked doing a nightly check of her territory, almost like a security guard, so a closed door was more interesting to her than an open one. The mattress was obviously still in the wrapper and all of the changing surfaces were antibacterial-ised ahead of using them.
3.Bringing home baby’s blanket from hospital for her to smell
I had to stay in hospital for one night, which allowed us time to bring a blanket home, which the baby had used for Orla to smell to give her time to recognise the baby’s smell. He must smell like me or an extension of me, because we have never had a problem, she’s accepted him from the start/not been that bothered about him. All through my pregnancy she was fantastic – I have read somewhere that she could probably hear the heartbeat and detected the hormones, not sure how true that is.
4.Giving her a place of safety at a height
Orla has two cosy mats on either side of our living room windowsill, which were great as she liked to know who was visiting, but she was out of the way so people couldn’t get to her. She also has a cat tree in the living room and another in the conservatory, as well as a bed upstairs in the study, so she always has somewhere to go that is just for her.
5.Giving her an escape route
If the baby cries in temper – the cat leaves the room. It remains important that she doesn’t feel trapped, therefore we have fitted catflaps; one to our back door to allow her to get outside when she wants and one between our kitchen and utility room. This also means that we can close off the utility room and keep her food in there – which provides a quiet, safe place for her to eat and also stops the baby getting to the food in future.
We are very fortunate to not have had any problems using these methods to help our cat adjust, obviously we are only eight months into our journey and this may change when the little one can pull her tail etc. The information above worked for us based on our cat’s nature and personality (and also me watching a lot of ‘My cat from hell‘ on Animal Planet), all cat’s are different, so please don’t use the information above as gospel!