Baby Talk

Get the lowdown on how to help kids and cats mesh into one happy household.

By Sandy Robins

Page 2 of 4

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Feline Integration
Feline curiosity and determination mean if you deliberately exclude cats from a certain room in the house, they will make concerted effort to gain access on their own. So simply involve them from Day 1. Let them in and let them lie around while you redecorate and set things up. Even play with kitty here so it feels comfortable in this territory.

If you want to keep your pet off the changing counter and out of the crib, use basic training tactics. Put aluminum foil on the countertop. Kitty will quickly get the message. To keep it out of the crib, simply place a couple of cans with a few coins inside and taped shut on the mattress. They will clink noisily with any movement and soon make your cat realize this is a no-kitty zone, too.

If friends with babies visit, keep your cat around and let it get used to the sounds of crying and gurgling. In fact, take a tape recorder on a visit to the gynecologists office. Theres bound to be a crying baby you can record. Replay the recording at home, especially when you are working in the nursery and in the room in which you intend to feed and entertain the baby. Play musical toys, too.

Because scents are important to animals, start wearing baby powder, lotion and other baby-related products.

While you are out shopping for baby, shop for kitty, too. Buy new cat toys, even a new kitty condo. But keep these items hidden and bring them out only when the baby actually arrives home to create a diversion. Its the same thing you would do if there were older children in the house who may be apprehensive of the babys arrival.

However, don't lavish an overabundance of attention on your cat before the baby arrives, said cat behaviorist and author Pam Johnson-Bennett. Chances are you won't be able to maintain that schedule when the baby is home, and this could cause some feline anxiety.

A Little Preparation
Its a good idea to let your spouse or whoever will be kitty sitting take over feeding duties at least a month before the babys arrival. Let the same person be the dispenser of treats, too. Cats have a very keen sense of smell, and this is an excellent way to help them become comfortable with their caregiver during your absence.

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