Once you know that a baby is on the way, you should prepare yourself and your family for the changes ahead. The cat also needs to be prepared as there will be changes in the home environment and routine once the baby arrives.
Use the entire time of pregnancy to prepare your cat for the baby. This is especially important if your cat has difficulties to cope with change.
Get your cat used to baby noises
Play recordings of baby noises such as crying, screaming, screeching with joy, etc. This can help your animal get used to the new background noise. Initially, the sounds should be played quietly. Over time, the volume can reach the frequency of crying, etc. Gradually increase the noise level so that your cat is not frightened.
Get the cat used to baby smells
A cat's sense of smell is very well developed. Start distributing the new fragrances (baby powder, baby soap, baby lotion and all other baby care products) around the apartment months before the birth. You can put the cream on yourself, so that it mixes the familiar, "safe" smells with the new ones.
Resting and sleeping places
Before your baby arrives, you have to make a decision about where your cat will rest and sleep in the future. If a change of room is necessary (the cat room becomes the baby room), get your pet used to the new sleeping place early enough. Cats are usually very sensitive to sudden bans and changes. Make the change positive for the cat. Gradually encourage your cat to sleep in the new room in the apartment. Reinforce this process by making the new space particularly attractive to the cat. Do not close the door to the former cat room until your cat has accepted the change.
A quiet place for the cat
It is obvious that as soon as your baby arrives, many family members, friends and neighbours will come to visit to welcome the baby. Sociable cats may enjoy the extra attention. Other cats, however, react stressed. They should always have a quiet and safe place available to go to when they want to rest or to withdraw from visitors.
The place of retreat will be especially important for the cat once the baby starts crawling around and starts exploring more and more by itself. Popular places of retreat may include a high cupboard from which the cat has a good overview of what is happening, and which is inaccessible to the baby, but also a place in a room to which the baby has no access.
Cat and baby meet for the first time
The first meeting of the cat and the baby should be done in a quiet room. Allow your cat to smell the baby. Treats and praise can help to make the meeting of the baby to a positive experience for the cat. If the cat prefers to withdraw, that's fine.
Do not leave your cat or baby unattended
This is especially important in connection with very lively cats, as they can jump on the baby and injure the baby in their exuberance.
Feed the cat in a "baby-safe" location
When your baby begins to crawl and explore their surroundings, the baby will sooner or later discover the cat food bowl as well. In order to have your cat food undisturbed, place the bowl in a place that is inaccessible to the baby. If that means changing rooms, get your cat used to it well in advance.
Before the baby arrives, it is advisable to have your cat checked by a veterinarian. Any suspicion of an existing or expected disease must be checked. This is especially important with regard to pain, since pain reduces the tolerance to change and can lead to aggression.
When your cat gets restless
Your cat can react to changes with protest – fouling, throwing up and scratching furniture are common signs of protest. Don't punish your cat for any of these behaviours. They are trying to tell you that they are not happy with the situation. Try to find ways that make your cat feel comfortable with the changed situation. You should always remember: your cat came first and is part of the family.