When you share your life with a cat, any change is a big deal. Your house is their entire WORLD. Anything you put in it, anything you change affects them in a big way. Some cats are pretty finicky and can have very strong reactions to change, including peeing outside of the litter box, attacking new objects, or becoming shy and withdrawn. It’s really important to consider your cat’s individual personality and the way he reacts to change before you introduce something new, especially a baby.
Fortunately for us, our cat, Toby, is pretty resilient and adjusts well to change — so long as he still gets his food and lots of attention. That’s why I wasn’t too worried when we brought home our first baby. What happened next was nothing we could have predicted.
Toby came to live with us around Christmas of 2013 when I was eight months pregnant. We took our time introducing him into our home and made special care to let him smell everything and become comfortable in his new surroundings. He was especially fond of my ever-expanding belly and would take long naps curled around or on top of it. While I was in the hospital, my husband brought home blankets that had been used to swaddle our little girl for Toby to smell. He sniffed it a very long time, then decided it was as good a blanket as any and plopped down to take a nap.
Of course, curiosity was the first reaction we saw in both Toby and our dog, Axle. Who was this little creature? I’m not sure if Toby realized this little baby was the foreign creature that had jabbed and kicked at him as he rested on my belly. He met us at the door as we walked in with her, and followed me around the house, ever the faithful Shadow Cat. I sat down on the couch so he could get a closer look, and after a quick sniff, he wiggled his way into my lap and settled in for a nap. Clearly, things weren’t going to change much!
As the next few weeks passed by, the most amazing thing happened. Despite the new baby being, well, new, and different and loud (when she cried), Toby never left her side. It’s like they were both in love at first sight. Granted, our baby is still very young, but she hasn’t shown any inclination of wanting to tease Toby (even little babies can grab those twitchy tails). We all pile on the couch or bed and take naps together, clearly debunking the old wives’ tale that cats will try to “take your baby’s breath.”
Over the course of my maternity leave, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of observing this growing bond between the two and have captured some cute moments. One day, when our baby is much older and Toby has grey whiskers, our little girl will be able to look back at these precious memories of her first best friend. In the meantime, I’ll continue to encourage their relationship while teaching our baby the importance of respect for other creatures.
What about you? Did you grow up with a kitty? Have you ever had to introduce a new baby to your cat? Let me know in the comments!
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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.