Cats and grandbabies can become great friends, but you need to start things off on the right foot. If you haven’t already, please read this article on the basics of introducing pets to grandchildren. In this article, you’ll learn some cat-specific tips and ideas for making the introduction as smooth as possible.
Cats generally don’t like change. You’ve probably noticed how dramatically it affects your cat even when you simply bring home a new piece of furniture. This is why the process should be slow and gradual.
A Safe Place for Your Cat
Make sure that your cat has a safe place to retreat to. It probably already has a room or part of the house where it likes to escape when things get hectic. Make sure this safe place is there for your cat when it comes time to introduce the baby. Designate a room and never let the baby in that room. Don’t show the little one your cat’s hiding place if they’re curious. Your cat will need a place where it can get completely away from the child.
Getting Your Cat Ready
Start as early as possible getting your cat ready for the big change of the grandbaby. If there will be changes to its regular routine, start introducing these changes weeks or months in advance of the baby coming. Set up baby furniture and bring in toys early. If you do this, your cat won’t associate these changes with the arrival of the grandbaby. Add one new item at a time and let your cat get its fill of sniffing it.
Cats are easily frightened by the sounds babies make. A baby crying may sound like a kitten in distress. Play CDs or recordings around the house of baby noises like crying, laughing and gurgling. This will make it less stressful when the actual baby is there making those sounds.
Cats are highly sensitive to smell, so put baby lotion or powder on your hands occasionally when petting your cat. If the baby is already born, get some of its onesies or other clothing or items and bring them into the house for the cat to sniff and get used to.
Another idea is to give your cat the baby’s socks or other clothes first, and then give them to the baby. This allows your cat to leave its own scent on the baby’s things so that when the baby is using them, the baby smells like cat.
If you have friends with babies or grandbabies, bring them around to the house. It’s much easier for a cat that has been around babies already. If you have babies around enough, it will be no big deal to your cat when you grandchild arrives.
You should install a baby gate or other means of keeping your cat and grandchild physically separate. You’ll want to control contact. Like the furniture and toys, bring the baby gate into the house long before you introduce the baby so your cat can get used to it.
Sometimes, a cat will take to the baby’s crib or bassinet. You don’t want your cat to get too comfortable in the baby’s space. Discourage this behavior or put the baby’s bed where your cat can’t get to it. If your cat takes to sleeping in the crib, put objects in it so that the cat can’t comfortably lie down.
Make sure that the cat’s things, like its food dish, water bowl and litter box, are in a baby-safe part of the house. Cats like to be alone when they eat, drink or do their business. Put the litter box in a room that’s separate and secluded but not too far away for the cat to get to.
If you have a male cat that isn’t neutered, now might be a good time to get it done. Neutered male cats tend to be less reactive and wild. It’s also simply being a good thing to do.
Double down on your cat hair cleaning routine. Brush your cat regularly and use a roller to remove hair from carpets, furniture and clothes. Even if the baby isn’t allergic to cats, it may have a bad reaction is your home is constantly covered in a layer of fur.
Cat Meets Grandbaby
When introducing cat and baby, let the cat make the first move. Don’t force the baby on the cat or you’ll definitely see your cat disappear in a puff of fur. Even a sociable cat needs the opportunity to explore on its own terms.
If your cat is a spoiled little ball of fur that needs constant attention, make sure it gets that attention even when the baby is present. Cats are less likely than dogs to feel jealous of a baby, but there still could be issues.
When your cat first meets your grandbaby, keep giving it positive reinforcement and don’t scold, even if it swats at the baby or hisses. Try to be patient. Watch your cat for warning signs that it’s had enough and separate the two before things get ugly.
In general, don’t be too excited. Stay as relaxed as possible so and this will help your cat relax as well.
Adverse Cat Reactions
The typical reaction of a cat to things it doesn’t like is to run away and hide somewhere, sometimes for days at a stretch. It’s very common for a cat to escape stressful situations, so let your cat do so if it wants. Don’t try to bring it out of its shell; it’ll come when it’s ready.
Another way some cats react is to become needier and seek attention even more. If your cat does this, indulge them and let them know they’re loved. Some cats do bad things intentionally like soiling in inappropriate places or scratching where they know they’re not supposed to. This could be a sign your kitty isn’t getting the attention it feels it deserves.
When your cat shows signs of distress, give it the treats you save for special occasions, like special wet food or fish. This will help to get its mind off of the new family member and back on its belly where it usually is.
Baby and Kitty Safety
Never leave the grandbaby and cat together unsupervised. Although the old wives’ tale about cats stealing babies’ breath isn’t true, there are many ways your cat can inadvertently harm the little one. Cats can be rough even when they’re just playing, and a slight cat scratch can be very painful to a baby.
Watch for signs of allergy in the baby. Symptoms like itchy or watery eyes, an unexplainable rash, runny nose, sneezing, coughing or wheezy breathing could all be signs of allergy. The only problem is that it’s tough to know exactly what’s triggering the allergy. House dust, mold and pet allergies all look the same. The symptoms may also occur when the pet isn’t present. If you think your grandbaby might be allergic to cats, let the doctor check them out.
Cats are usually quite good with babies once they get used to having them around. However, the process can take longer for a cat than it does for a dog, so stay relaxed, be patient and keep praising your cat’s good behavior.