Those who know me well know how much I love my pets. I've had a string of "misters" in my life that pre-date my husband; Mr. Bill (a 17 lbs rabbit), Mr. Chow (a super chubby long haired cat), and currently Mr. Fritz (the most affectionate and dog-like cat you've ever met.) Needless to say, the thought of subtracting his from my life to add my son to the family was not an idea that crossed my mind. It was just a new "mister" to add to the clan! It never occurred to me that Fritzy might not feel the same way, and the transition was not exactly smooth... Based on the experience of my friends and I, we hope to help you ease the joining of your family with these tips!
Your feline family friends are extremely territorial; they have spots for sleeping, good vantage points for surveying their land, and... well, and a couple more good sleeping spots, let's be honest. The very fact that they sleep in your clean sweater purely because it's slightly more elevated than your bed, tells you their attitude. They are in charge, and your are their loyal subject. It only makes sense that when a tiny new interloper takes all of your time, plus has lots of cozy places only they're allowed to sleep, the adjustment would be abrupt. To prevent undue wrath from your feline overlord, follow these tips.
- Be firm with the rules from the beginning. Cats respect you until they find a crack in your armour. If you put Sir Fuzzington on the change table for a picture, it will never be off limits again.
- If you can, avoid putting baby things like cribs, bassinets, and play pens in "designated" cat areas. It will only tempt them to sleep in and/or destroy the offending item.
- Do your best to maintain your cat's routine. Of course, in the delirium of taking care of a baby, you might not get food in their bowl for 7 am on the dot. They will, however, let you know that you're late, and remember the offence for later.
While your cat might be a little ticked, you risk really hurting your dog's feelings, and this is so much worse. The loss of their spot on your bed, the decrease in walks, and less cuddle time will have a huge impact on Spot. A puppy lives and breathes for you, and if you start to yell at them or ignore them to take care of junior, they can get depressed or start acting out to compensate. A good friend of mine has a gorgeous big dog, and I asked her how she prepared for him to meet her new daughter.
- Bring a blanket that was used by the baby home from the hospital for the dog to smell and get used to before the actual baby gets there.
- While you might not think you have the energy, walks and play time are important to address your puppy's energy in a healthy and safe way. Hey, it might just give you a nice break and help with the mommy tummy at the same time.
- "When we brought her home my husband went in and greeted Henry while I waited outside with Adeline, then we switched and I let him say hi to me. We let him get his excitement that we were home out of the way so that he would be as calm as possible when we brought the baby in."
Pets don't end with our four legged pals either. Whether you have fish or a hamster, the fact is that animal is going to have to cede some of it's attention to a new person, and you are going to have way more to consider than you did before baby. Good friend and diaper bag alumna Eva, for example, has a bird. She told us "After two weeks Gus completely ignored Gilad and only in the last three months has been showing interest in Gilad. She flies down to the floor to see what we are doing when we play there. Now she flies over to see us when he's eating in his high chair. I am still nervous to let them touch because Gus is a biter but they get super close."
Integrating pets and children isn't impossible, but it's not always easy. Not all pets are capable of the discipline you want and not all parents want to deal with the additional work once a little one arrives. You wouldn't be the first to choose flesh over fur if push came to shove. The additional cost, care, and supervision might not be for you, and that's okay too. If you're determined, just don't give up. Be consistent and patient. They will grow to love each other, and having a pet can be a very rewarding experience for the whole family.