Monday, June 08, 2015

When Cats Meet Baby

I just unearthed a bunch of old files at work and found this's long gone on my job's website,
so I'll post it here for safekeeping. Complete with bad links :)

When Cats Meet Baby

Elyse is back and ready to report on life with two cats and a newborn!

A few months ago, when I was very pregnant, I asked for your advice on the ASPCA Online Community—how do I keep my cats out of the crib?  Community members offered me great tips on kitty deterrents. Alas, nothing worked…until I gave birth. Apparently a baby is the ultimate kitty deterrent.

When we brought Melody home from the hospital, we put her in her bassinet. Bruce and Maow, my orange tabby brother-and-sister duo, came over for a sniff. Up until then, the bassinet had been their territory (despite my best efforts). What was this little pink thing doing in their bed? After a few minutes of exploring, they sashayed away. Perhaps they lost interest. Or perhaps they understood that this was a baby, fragile and in need of protection. All I know is, from that moment on, the cats never again set paw in either the bassinet or the crib.

I can’t say the same for Melody’s toys or her stroller.

Photo: bruce swiping playmat

When the kid’s away, the cat will play.

Photo: Bruce and Maow cuddled in the stroller

Caught in the act.

Melody, now three months old, shows no interest in her orange brother and sister, but I look forward to watching them become friends. I imagine “cat” will be among her first words. Right now, my cat kids do little more than sniff her now and then, but soon enough they’ll learn she has a limitless supply of cuddling and playing energy, as all kids should—and do—have.

My cats aren’t exactly what you’d call good cats. I’d go as far as calling them pretty darn naughty cats. If there is wooden furniture, they will scratch it. If there’s an open drawer, they will empty it. If there are chicken bones, they will try to steal them. They are only two years old and still full of kitten energy, zipping and leaping around the apartment, not knowing the word “obstacle.” But when they met the baby, they intuitively knew to behave around her. They are gentle and move slowly in her presence. They remind me of Marley in John Grogan’s Marley & Me. I was moved to tears when Grogan described how “the world’s worst dog” was soft and kind as could be with his babies. How do these furry little ones know? Is it something we, as their owners, are doing right? Do babies have the gift of touching everyone? Maybe. But I say the credit goes to the animals themselves, and their beautiful instincts to nurture young life. Quite magical, really.

* Expecting a little one of your own? Learn how to prepare a cat for a new baby.

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