One of my pet peeves is new parents surrendering their cat(s) to shelters when a new baby joins the family. These people should never have been permitted to have pets in the first place. Pets are not mere possessions to be acquired and disposed of on a whim. They are sentient beings with rich emotional lives.
On the Guidepost blog last week, 4 Feline Fanatics described their experience when twins joined the resident cat’s household:
Cats and Babies Can Get Along…
By 4 Feline Fanatics, August 13, 2010
When my wife was toward the end of her pregnancy with our twin son and daughter, Henry and Louisa, certain family members asked us what we were going to do with our cat, Lucy. Why would you ask such a silly question, I thought.
To my relatives, this was a serious issue. After all, Lucy still has claws. What if she scratches one of the babies? One family member went so far as to suggestonly half in jestLucy might suck the breath out of one or both of the babies. Some even offered to adopt her they were so serious.
Of course, that was an option Id never once considered. I grew up with petsmainly dogs, but also fish, hamsters, the occasional lizard of one variety or anotherand I wanted my children to have the same opportunity to experience the joy of loving (and being loved by) a pet. Plus, there is evidence that exposing children to animals at an early age may improve their immune system.
To be fair, cats do present certain risks to pregnant women, but we were sure to follow these ASPCA guidelines while my wife was pregnant.
But since the kids were born, its been mostly smooth sailing. There was a brief period when Henry and Louisa were learning to crawl when Lucy would bat at and sometimes lightly scratch them. Thinking she might be jealous of the kids, I made a special effort to spend five minutes of quality time with her a day and she stopped. Now, as you can see in this video, its all about lovies.
Cats are hypersensitive to change. If you have a new baby in the house who is diverting your affection and attention away from Fluffy, there’s a chance that Fluffy might act out in rebellion. But, as the blogger notes, making a point of spending just a short time each day in concentrated one-on-one time with the cat will usually resolve such issues.
In addition, using claw tip covers (like SoftPaws®) will eliminate the potential for scratching the baby. If your cat tends to be bitey, you should monitor his interactions with the baby, and use clicker training to modify his behavior. Purina Cat Chow Mentor Amy Shojai explains how to do this.
Until your child is old enough to follow your instructions as to proper behavior with a cat, you should never leave cat and kid alone together. A baby cannot be expected to refrain from tail-pulling or rambunctious behavior, just as the cat cannot be blamed for defending herself against such behavior.
One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is the companionship of a pet. Ditching the pet when a child joins the household is a disservice to both.
[PHOTO: Critter Chronicles; Thanks to 4 Feline Fanatics for sharing this post.]