Further Observations on My Cat’s Relationship With My New Baby


Seven months ago I told you how my cat would not look at my baby, and I proposed a number of reasons why that might be. Did the cat think the baby would disappear if she refused to look at him? Did she think he was a Decepticon who would devour us all if she looked at the diode implanted in his retina?

You know, I made jokes.

Well, here I am seven long months later to say that things have improved in terms of behavior. The cat looks at the baby! It’s mostly with a horrified expression. You see, the baby has made it his 10-month goal to reach the kitty and grab the kitty. That involves spotting the kitty, issuing a delightful squeal, then setting out on a grueling army-crawl operation toward the location of the kitty, which takes several minutes of sustained focus and effort. Imagine Bruce Willis with a belly wound dragging himself down your hallway to reach his gun. The baby grits his four teeth the entire way.

During this time, the kitty will stare at the baby, impassive, as the baby inches closer. She is not a cuddly kitty. She does not understand this operation and believes the architect behind it is mad.

Once baby gets within a foot or so, kitty is faced with a decision. Despite her blank expression, which betrays nothing of the fact that a hyperfocused baby is on a collision course with her, her mind is racing. She knows she must move, but dammit to hell, she was there first. She seems to debate the merits of holding her ground, but only for a moment, because things start to happen fast.

Specifically, one chubby little hand swings out, fingers extended, aiming for belly floof, tail, really anything that belongs to the kitty. And then kitty is just gone, springing up and aside like Bruce Lee, and the baby is left grabbing handfuls of air, confusion and sorrow clouding his features. All that effort for nothing.

Saddest thing you’ve ever seen.

But then, inevitably, the baby swivels his head and again squeals in delight, for the cat has just moved a handful of feet away and is again staring into space as if the whole operation never happened. The baby grits his four teeth, sets his course and commences army-crawling for the 10th or 20th time that day.

I think kitty secretly likes it. I know the baby does. But the baby still wants a handful. And kitty does not intend to let that happen.

As for me, I am on them like an MMA referee. I won’t let the baby get a handful. I intervene. But I also need to let them get to know each other, so I try to keep my hands to myself. I issue a steady stream of calming words to kitty, some tinged with a gentle warning that hurting the baby will be bad news. As for baby, I often discourage his prolonged forays toward kitty, I redirect him, I step in and present him with a ball or an empty water bottle to crinkle. He is easily distracted. He is 10 months old.

The other day, the cat had to pass the baby to do some cat stuff, and the baby simply raised his index finger and pointed at her as she edged by. The cat paused, leaned in and sniffed the finger, then continued on her way. That was enough for the both of them. The baby might have even felt her nose. It was a big moment.

I think the baby is learning that the subtle approach will eventually get him what he wants — belly floof, most likely. Maybe tail.

I’ll update this post once the baby can walk and things start to get heavy.

Have you ever had to deal with a grouchy, disinterested kitty and a new baby? What did you do? Let me know in the comments.

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