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Your Cats And Children

Congratulations, you expecting a baby, this is wonderful news, but what about your cat? People often go into panic mode when a new member of the family arrives, “the cat will hurt my baby” or “we have to get rid of the cat as the new baby will feel rejected”. This is simply not true, and this is one reason why so many family cats are abandoned or sent to cat shelters every year. So before you start to panic about the situation with the family cat, stand back and take a bit of perspective on the situation – cats and babies have grown up with each other for thousands of years. How often do you hear about a baby being seriously injured by a cat attack? Not very often, if at all. 

You really need to take into consideration the welfare of the cat, rather than that of the baby. You have about nine months to get the cat used to the idea of a new member of the house (as most owners own a cat for a long time before they have a baby), where as you cannot expect a new baby to just accept your cat. You need to plan ahead. Think about the type of cat you have, is it shy and introverted or a family cat that is in to every thing? For a shy cat it will be difficult as often they don’t like noise and people, so start introducing more noise and people (invite your friends round more often) in the run up to having the baby, this way the transition should be easier. As for an out going family cat, this type of cat may be upset by the lack of attention it is receiving when you have the baby, there is not really any way to resolve this, just make sure your cat still gets family cuddles when the baby arrives. The easiest type of cat to deal with is the adventurous type, it comes and goes as it pleases and really treats the house as a hotel. These cats will not be bothered by the arrival of the new baby as long as the warm bed and good food remains the same. 

Before the baby arrives, make sure you give your cat a good check up, and take it to see the vet if necessary. You’ll need to check your cat for fleas, ticks and worms (you should check your cat for these regularly anyway), also check your cats teeth and ears. Normally the teeth and ears will give you a good indication if anything is wrong with it’s health. Keeping your cat healthy, will protect your cats health as well as your baby’s and your family’s. It’s also a good idea to neuter you cat before the baby arrives if you have not already done so. A neutered cat is a much friendlier cat, and will use their claws much less when playing. The last thing you want is your cat to scratch your baby because it thinks it’s play time, neutering your cat is the best way around this; plus this will stop your cat from straying which will prevent it from picking up diseases from other cats. 

Also think about changing the cats routine before the baby arrives. For example your spare room may have been an office which the cat had free range of, however you are going to turn it into the baby’s room. You’ll want to stop your cat from going in there, as far in advance as you can, so the cat begins to understand that it is no longer aloud in the room. Also move you cats food and toilet area to a safe place, this needs to be where your cat will not spread bacteria to your baby and where you baby cannot get to, your cat will probably accept a new feeding and toileting area quite easily, just make sure you show it where it is, so as to avoid any accidents. 

Your baby will probably not take any notice of your cat until it is about three months old, when it can move about freely; however, long before this you cat will be very intrigued as to whom this new little person is, and will start to carry out it’s own investigations as a curious cat. This is nothing to worry about and is perfectly normal, as soon as your cat realises that you baby is not a provider of food or another cat then it will soon loose interest and go on to more interesting adventures. Although you may still want to use a net to cover your pram or cot, as often cats find these very warm and inviting area to make into a cosy sleeping please. Just make sure that the net is fitted securely otherwise you may find your cat using the net as a sleeping hammock. 

When they baby arrives, make sure you keep the door to its room close, this should keep both your cat and your baby out of harms way. However some babies do not like this, and if this is the case then you can if your babies room with a small cat detecting alarm, which are cheap and easy to install. 

Give your cat attention, most cats love fuss and will follow you around until they get some. Once your baby has arrived you will have to make sure that you give your cat the fuss and attention that it needs. Doing this in the evening is a good idea, when your baby has gone to bed you can lavish affection on your cat, this will not only strengthen the bond between you and your cat, but the stroking action will have a claming effect on your nerves, which is often needed once a new baby arrives. 

From an early age your child will need to learn to love and respect your cat. And a cat should not be given as a gift to a young child as they do not understand that a cat is not a toy and discard it when it gets bored. You need to teach your child not to make loud noises around your cat as this will scare it, and that your cats tail and whiskers are not for pulling. This will help keep you cat and your child safe and prevent injuries. 

You do not need a miracle for cats and children to live together in harmony, you just need respect and understanding. Once your cat and your child get to know each other a strong bond will be formed and you’ll wonder how they ever lived with out one another.

 

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