From the moment you find out you’re pregnant, you have a limited window to get everything prepared for when the big day finally arrives, and it’s very, very easy to can forget how much of an impact a new arrival can have on the furry members of our family, particularly Cats! Do Cats get jealous of Babies? Absolutely! But there are plenty of ways to manage this, and avoid it becoming a problem.
It’s true that when a major life event occurs, such as welcoming a new baby into your world, Pets can, and will, experience a level of jealousy, and as a result this can often cause them stress, or result in undesirable behaviours. The trick is to prepare well in advance so that they don’t have too much of a shock to the system when that big day comes.
Sadly, due to a lack of preparation, some families end up in a position where they have to say goodbye to their beloved car and put them in shelters because it just isn’t working out. Below are some tips to help with preparing your cat for your new baby’s arrival, as well as introducing them in a safe, calm, and stress-free way that works for everyone. And who knows? It could be the start of an everlasting friendship between your fur-baby, and your not-so furry baby. Exposing your child to animals from a young age can be a wonderful thing as it teaches children to respect the creatures that we are blessed to share this planet with.
Why Do Cats Get Jealous Of Babies?
Like many pets (and people), cats are creatures of habit. This means any disruptions to their routine can result in feelings of stress and anxiety. Bringing home a new baby is a life changing event for the whole Household, not just for you as new parents. Everything your cat has ever known up until the point of the baby’s arrival is about to change, and for your cat, the baby can be seen as a threat.
They very things that make your cat feel safe and secure, such as their environment, objects, and even you as their humans, are what make them territorial. The feelings of jealousy that your cat can experience after your baby is born are therefore completely normal.
If your cat is continuously feeling distressed due to jealousy, then even as your baby grows your cat can develop behavioural problems and display negative emotions. Ensuring that your cat feels emotionally secure and safe is crucial as your family expands.
Do Cats get Jealous of Babies? Common Signs
A cat will express their jealousy in a variety of different forms, including through their body language.
- If your cat is crouching down and their body is tense with their tail tucked in, then they are probably having feelings of anxiety. Other signs include dilated pupils and flattened ears.
- If your cat is standing, arching their back with their fur raised, then this can be a sign that your cat isn’t happy at all, and may even be feeling some anger. Eyes again may be dilated with their ears flattened, but they may also be exposing their teeth.
- Hissing, Scratching, Biting and Batting are clear signs of Aggression.
- Urinating, Spraying or Defacting in undesirable Locations.
Cats need time to adjust to this brand new situation, and some cats may take longer than others. Remember, they used to be the ones who were getting all the attention, and now they are having to share it with someone else. A cat who is feeling angry or frustrated may take out their emotions on objects or other pets. They may even start to direct their aggression towards you if you approach them to pet them by swatting away your advances. It may seem as though your cat is being aggressive; however, they are merely defending themselves and trying to adapt to a new dynamic within the household.
Behaviours such as aggression are much easier to pinpoint, but jealousy towards Babies does not always manifest itself in this way with our feline friends. Another common way is through soiling outside of their litterbox. This can be a sign that your cat is feeling distressed, or frustrated.
Other excessive behaviours may present themselves, such as meowing loudly in order to get your attention. Cats may also isolate themselves and become less active, and even go so far as refusing their meals.
Helping Your Cat To Prepare In Advance
As we’ve mentioned, your cat’s routine is going to change. As is yours. The best thing to do for your cat is to establish a new routine gradually, and way ahead of when your baby is born. You’re going to be buying all sorts of new things such as a crib, pram, baby clothes etc. Give your cat the opportunity to approach these new objects, so that they can get used to them. Let them sniff and explore, but obviously don’t allow them to jump inside the crib, otherwise your cat might assume that this new bed is for them and the perfect new place to sleep! Not exactly ideal when baby moves in.
Introducing your cat to baby sounds is another way you can prepare them. Babies can be noisy after all, and if they are hearing loud cries for the first time after your baby comes home, then your cat may feel unsettled and anxious. Play recordings of baby’s crying or gurgling gradually, turning up the volume when you are satisfied that your cat is becoming more comfortable with the sounds!
Another thing you can do to help prepare in advance, and avoid Jealousy towards your Baby, is to spend less time petting your cat. We know that this may be difficult, especially if your used to spending quality time with your cat and you enjoy it just as much as they do. However, when your baby comes, a lot of your time will be spent focusing on feeding, changing, and just generally doting on your child. Gradually wean off petting so that your cat gets used to less frequent quality time. Reducing the time spent petting your cat will help them learn that you as their owner, are not always going to be available to give them your undivided attention that they crave from time to time. Start by allocating a block of time where you will spend quality time with your cat, perhaps in the evenings.
You may also wish to consider utilising Feliway Diffusers Which release an Odourless Pheromone throughout your Home. When plugged in, this releases the ‘Feline Facial’ Pheromone which will mark the area as ‘Safe’ for your Cat, and significantly reduce their levels of Jealousy, Stress and Anxiety. It is extensively recommended by Vets and Pet Behaviourist Specialists, and backed by 25 Years of research.
We have personally used this product, and highly endorse it. We Recommend that you begin using it around 8 Weeks before your baby is due to arrive, and that you spread them around the home.
Introducing Your Cat To Your New Family Member
When the time comes to bring your baby home, try to remain calm to ensure that your cat feels as unthreatened as possible. They may initially seem hesitant, which is to be expected. Perhaps coax them with a few treats or a toy to help make them feel at ease.
You know your cat better than anyone, so when you sense that they are calm, introduce them to a blanket or a clothing item that has your baby’s scent on it. Encourage your cat to sniff the objects whilst providing them with treats for reassurance and praise them for good behaviour. If your cat is still unsure, don’t force them by any means. Leave the blanket by their bed so that they can go and investigate on their own terms. Give them as much space and time as they need before repeating.
Now that you’ve ensured that your cat is calm, it’s a good opportunity to introduce them to the baby. If you can, then try to do the introduction with two people present, with one person focusing on your cat as the other holds the baby. Don’t bring your cat to the baby whilst holding them up as it’s much better for them to approach the baby as and when they are feeling comfortable enough to do so. Pet your cat for good behaviour and offer treats as you introduce them both. Rewards for good behaviour can work wonders, and if your cat is calm and gentle, then praise them. We used a Selection of Dreamies When training our Cat in this method, and they worked amazingly!
Do Cat’s get jealous of Babies? Yes! Do Well-fed Cat’s get Jealous of Babies? Much less likely 🙂
A Safe Space For Your Cat
Dedicate a corner of your home to be a safe haven for your cat when they are feeling uncomfortable or Jealous. Fill it with their favourite toys, a cosy space to sleep, and perhaps even a few treats. That way they can take themselves to their sanctuary to recoup before going back to bond with their new family member.
As a new parent, you want to protect your baby as much as possible, and cats obviously have sharp claws and teeth which can harm a child – even if it is accidental! It’s entirely up to you when it comes to deciding how close you are happy to let your cat get to your baby, and if you feel they are getting a little too close – then calmly move away or divert their attention with treats or toys.
We highly recommend utilising Safety Gates with Pet Access as these can be used throughout the home to control areas which your Baby can access, and areas which your pet can access. The access Panel for the Pets can be locked out in areas which are for ‘Baby only’, but can also be used to allow your Pets free access to Staircases etc whilst keeping your Baby safe – They are amazingly versatile and come in a wide range of colours and sizes to suit all households!
Cats will be less likely to experience signs of Jealousy is they can maintain access to essential areas of the Home.
Wondering What’s Best For Your Cat
If your Cat is Jealous of your Baby, It might get to the stage where you feel that your cat deserves an owner who can dedicate more time and attention to them. That’s a normal feeling. Of course, you want what’s best for them, and perhaps you think it would be kinder to rehome. It can be an overwhelming time for everyone involved, including your cat, but the truth is – you are doing what you can, and as long as you aren’t neglecting your fur-baby, then chances are, they are quite content exactly where they are. If you aren’t able to give them as much love and attention as you once could, then that’s quite alright. Perseverance and patience are key here. Cats are far happier living in a home that they know well. You’ll get there, and there will be plenty of opportunities to redeem yourself later.
If you want to read more on Cats and Babies, feel free to check out our Article on Tips for Introducing Cats and Babies