Before I brought my new baby home to meet Furball, I had a lot of concerns because Furball is fairly highstrung and becomes agressive when he feels threatened. I researched the advice from animal experts and came up with a few of my own ideas before the baby was born. It’s been a few weeks since the baby arrived and I can now report on the reality of implementing the expert advice.
1) Advice: Play audio of babies crying before the baby is born so the cat gets used to it.
Reality: Furball never got used to the audio of the babies crying and would always be freaked out by it. However, I didn’t play it as consistently as was advised or start as early as recommended. I’d still recommend doing this. We discovered by accident the best and safest way to get the cat accustomed to the crying. Here’s what happened. We kept the crib in our room and spent most of the time in the bedroom with the baby. When he started crying at night, the bedroom door was shut, so Furball was freaked out, but he was freaking out outside of the room. After a couple of nights, he started to ignore the crying. Then, when he was in the same room with the crying baby, he didn’t pay too much attention.
2) Advice: Bring something scented with the baby’s smell home before you bring home the baby (eg. wipe, towel). Place it down under the cat’s food bowl and give your cat a special treat.
Reality: If you’re doing this, bring something that you’re going to throw away right afterwards because once it’s been on the floor and slobbered on by the cat and crusted with cat hair, you won’t want to put it back near your newborn even if you wash it a dozen times. Furball sniffed the wipe once, then completely ignored it and went straight to the food. Also, since we were in the hospital for a couple of days, the cat was just happy to have company and was fairly oblivious to the wipe. I think this advice might work better for dogs.
3) Advice: Give your pet lots of attention when the baby is in the room with them.
Reality: This is pretty good advice, but the reality of a newborn is that you won’t even have time to wash your face in the first week or two, let alone spend lots of time with your pet. We tried the best we could, but Furball is used to being the center of attention. I’d advise you taper off attention starting 3 to 6 months before the baby is due. Whatever you consider to be minimal, give even less than that because when the baby arrives, that’s what the reality will be.