Whether your baby or your cat was here first, they’re going to have to find a way to get along. The best way to make that happen is by starting with a good first impression.
As a parent, there’s a lot you can do ensure your cats and babies share a healthy, loving bond for life.
Like us, cats need an adjustment period. Whether you’re bringing a new cat into the home or you’re adding a new bundle of joy to your cat’s territory, it’s going to take time for your cat to come around to the change of scenery.
Rather than forcing introductions, let your cat call the shots. Take your time and let your cat come to you and your baby. Cats are naturally curious, so he’ll make his way around to saying hello sooner or later. But things will go much smoother if it’s on feline time.
Think about your first impression of a coworker, a neighbor, or a friend. That initial impression may have changed over time, but you always remember those pivotal first few seconds. Cats are the same way.
When you’re first introducing your cat to your baby, keep a close eye on both parties. Toddlers in particular tend to be eager to explore their surroundings and may want to grab at the cat. Help your child redirect any attempts to grab into soft petting. This will teach your child how to interact with your cat while also teaching your cat that your kiddo is a source of loving attention.
Get to Know Their Personalities
Just as babies are born with unique temperaments, cats have unique personalities. Some cats are introverted, shy, or reclusive, and others are outgoing, affectionate, and downright talkative. Also, some cats are more prone to bonding or may become attached to one particular member of the family.
Enjoy the journey of getting to know the personalities of your cat and your child as they grow together. Respect whatever temperament or personality each has. Talk to your child about your cat’s personality and help your little one appreciate what makes your cat special.
One thing your child and your cat have in common is they each think they’re in charge. Whether it’s meal time or nap time, kids and cats naturally think their needs come first.
As your cat and child spend more time together, they’ll inevitably cross a boundary that one or both isn’t comfortable with. In most cases, it’s the cat who feels like things have gone too far. While kids tend to be cuddlers and believe play time should never end, cats aren’t always inclined to agree.
Teach your child from an early age that when a cat leaves the room, runs away, or retreats to a hiding place, it’s best to let him be. Cats who don’t want to play or be picked up are more likely to scratch or nip when their patience is tested.
Keep Watch & Prevent Mishaps
Until children are old enough to interact with pets on their own, parents should always keep an eye on their kiddos when they’re around the family cat. While cats and babies can certainly form strong bonds, there’s also plenty of opportunity for mishaps.
Start by teaching your child the dos and don’ts of having a feline sibling - like that kitty litter isn’t an approved snack and cats don’t enjoy having their tails pulled.
If you’re concerned about your cat scratching your little one, consider using Soft Claws or a similar product. Rather than declawing - which is a painful, debilitating, and traumatizing event for your cat - Soft Claws are a humane way to prevent scratches.
Soft Claws are a set of silicone sheaths that can be safely glued onto your cat’s nails. As your cat’s nails grow and the outer layer sloughs off, Soft Claws fall off too. Replace each nail as it comes off, or do a full kitty manicure about once every six weeks.