Blended Families, Part II
There’s so much good stuff to share about that, but I wanted to take a few seconds to let you know how my cat girls, Max and Katie, are doing with the new arrival. Our cats and dogs don’t peacefully coexist, so Max and Katie had the most exposure to the gradual changes upstairs in the room that became the nursery. (Isn’t it scary that I cannot remember what used to be in that room?!)
To help the cats adapt, we took things slow and made small changes each week or month. So, we’d put a piece of furniture in the room, and they’d spend a few days lying on it, making it their own. By the time the baby came into the picture, he was just one more little change—easy to deal with.
Another key to their overall acceptance of Isaiah is that I didn’t shoo them out of the crib or off the changing table. I still don’t, unless I need it (and then, food bribes work magic and don’t cause resentment).
I know that for 400 years, people have been telling pregnant women and new moms that they have to watch out to make sure that the cat doesn’t steal their baby’s breath. I don’t know about any of y’all, but my cats avoid DS like the plague. It’s not that they hate him, but with his erratic movements and high-pitched cries, he’s not exactly an attractive kitty plaything.
So, when he’s sleeping in his crib or bassinet, they leave him be. And when he leaves it, they make themselves at home again. It means that everyone always has a warm place to lie down.
What it all boils down to is setting your mind to making sure that your animal companions get the same kind of love and attention after the human baby arrives that they got when they were your only “kids.”
For a sleep-deprived and overwhelmed first-time parent, this might seem like a tall order, but it’s really easy. Here are just a few little things I’ve done in the past few weeks:
• Sing to your cat while you feed the baby.
• Give your cat an extra-special treat every day—just a tiny, tasty morsel or a present from your yard (a leaf can provide many fun moments for your kitty!).
• Put one of your cat’s beds or soft places to lie in a corner of the baby’s room so that your cat knows that he or she is welcome, wanted, and provided for.
• If your partner has taken over baby duties for a while and you’re taking the opportunity to rest, invite your cat (or dog) to join you. Spend a few minutes petting your cat and saying how much you love him or her—if it’s been a stressful day with the baby, you’ll be doing yourself a favor too!