If you are expecting a baby, getting married, or having a friend or family member come to live with you, your cat may become anxious about the change in the routine and lifestyle. Not only that, but the new family member may not be all that comfortable with the cat, and will have to learn about how to care for your cat properly. This stress can be very difficult on your cat, and you need to do what you can to minimize any distress.
The New Baby
During pregnancy, you need to start preparing your cat for the new addition. If you are the pregnant one, and you have been the primary caregiver for your cat, your cat will already be stressed out. You will be much more careful about touching and cleaning up after your cat from fear of toxoplasmosis. While your cat is trying to rub his or her scent on you, you will be washing it off just as fast.
However, you can do some things to make your cat more comfortable. First, if you are going to change the house rules, do so before you have the baby. This way your cat will not resent the new infant when it arrives. For instance, if the nursery is going to be off-limits to your cat, you will want to start that limitation as soon as possible. This way, when the baby comes, the cat already thinks the room is off limits, not that the baby kicked him or her out of the room.
If your cat is allowed in the nursery, you will need to teach your cat that the crib is off-limits. There is a risk of suffocation or allergic reaction when the cat sleeps in the crib, so you will want to keep your cat out before the baby comes. You will also need to get your cat used to baby toys. Cats will be very tempted by mobiles and rattles. Make sure that the novelty of these items has worn off before you bring the baby home.
Also, make sure your cat is healthy and vaccinated before your baby arrives. It allows you to get rid of parasites or other issues prior to your baby coming home. Also, be sure that you clip your cat’s nails. This prevents any accidental scratches.
When your baby is born, have the father bring home a blanket or something that has the baby’s scent on it. The item will get your cat used to the new scent, so it will not be a surprise when the baby comes into the house. When you do bring your baby home, have the cat’s primary caregiver be free to greet the cat. This lets your cat know that he or she is still important to you.
After you have greeted your cat, allow your cat to approach the baby. Your cat will be hesitant at first, and your cat may even be a little skittish with sudden motion. However, newborns are not overly threatening to a cat, and your cat will get used to him or her soon enough. In fact, your cat may feel a sense of protection about your baby.
Even though you may be exhausted, when your baby sleeps, spend time with your cat. Make this your bonding time with grooming and play. Since babies tend to be on a schedule, your cat will actually enjoy the routine.
As your baby grows, you will need to teach both your cat and your baby how to play with each other with respect. Do not allow them to play together unsupervised. However, do not be surprised if your baby is playing right alongside your cat with the same dangle toys.
The New Spouse
The transition to a new household member is much easier than the transition to a new baby. A grown person can understand directives and the needs of your cat. Yet, the addition of any new member of the household can be rather distressing.
Hopefully your cat has met your spouse a number of times before he moves in with you. Your cat should be used to your being in the house, and should be comfortable with him or her playing with your cat. However, it is still not the same as someone moving in.
Before your spouse moves in, you should start collecting his or her belongings and slowly placing them appropriately in the house. This gradual process will allow your cat to get comfortable with new items. Also, your spouse’s scent will become more prominent in the house. Also, your spouse will need to spend much more time with you. You may even want to include your spouse in playtime and grooming. Start having your spouse develop a relationship with your cat.
In the meantime, you will also need to let your spouse know the house rules. If your cat is allowed in and out, you need to tell your spouse the schedule. Feeding schedule and appropriate treats are important. Your spouse will need to learn what behaviors are acceptable and which ones are not. If your cat sees any way to manipulate someone to misbehave, he or she will not hesitate to take advantage of it.
Also, your cat will need to get used to you sleeping in the same bed. This may sound odd, but if your cat is used to sharing your bed with you, there could be some “accidents” on the bedspread from time to time. Start off by trying out a pillowcase or sheet from your spouse’s bed on your own. Then move on to allowing your spouse to nap on your bed with you. Then allow your spouse to nap on your bed without you. Eventually your cat will get used to sharing the bed with both of you. If it does not work, you may need to keep your bedroom off-limits to your cat.
The New Roommate
The transition to a spouse moving is similar to a roommate, but you may have to do a little different transition, as your new roommate may not be someone your cat knows as well as your spouse.
Again, start off by allowing your new roommate and your cat to get to know one another. Bring your new roommate over quite a bit before he or she moves in. Also, have your new roommate leave items at your home every time he or she comes over, so that your cat can get used to the scent being in the house. While your new roommate visits, you may want to leave from time to time so that your cat is used to being alone with the new housemate.
If there are going to be any new house rules, you will need to set them before your new roommate moves in. For instance, if your roommate’s bedroom will be off-limits, set that rule ahead of time. This way your cat will not resent the new member of the household.
Also, you will need to set house rules with your new roommate. He or she will need to know your cat’s schedule and limitations. For instance, if your cat is an indoor housecat, you will need to tell your roommate, who may not know better. Teach him or her how to keep the cat inside, and explain why you do not leave doors or windows wide open. It is better to be safe than sorry.
When your new roommate moves in, be sure to pay good attention to your cat, and be sure your roommate does, too. Allow your new roommate to play with your cat and develop a bond. Eventually the house will return to a routine and harmony, and your cat’s stress level will decrease significantly.