Old pet--new baby - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 02-03-2003, 01:53 AM - Thread Starter
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My sister is pregnant and due in July with her first. She has a cat that is about 12 years old. They have a king size bed and the cat has always slept between them.

Right now she's thinking about having the baby sleep in a co-sleeper, bassinet, or in the other room in a crib in deference to the cat. Her reasoning is that the cat would not take well to having its habits changed at this advanced age. Even more she's afraid the cat will try to sleep next to the baby and maybe hurt it if the baby accidentally bumps it or something.

Has anyone had this experience? What did you do?
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#2 of 6 Old 02-03-2003, 01:27 PM
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We have two cats and neither wanted to be near the baby for the first few weeks so the problem pretty much took care of itself. Babies make weird noises and move in unpredicatable ways. We also act "strange" around them and cats don't like any thing to change, ever. They eventually warmed up to us again.

Despite the recommendations of Dr. Sears, et. al., we never banished them from the bedroom. Figured we weren't the best housekeepers anyway, so it was unlikely the allergen level would be appreciably lower had we chosen banishment. Our little cat formerly slept in my armpit and the big one at our feet (their choices). The little cat moved to my husband's armpit and the other eventually came back to sleep at our feet. Ever since dd learned to get out of bed by herself we've had a gate on the door at night that only the little cat can jump, so we're down to one cat now, and miss the other.

That said, I would never put a baby in another room in an effort not to hurt the cats' feelings. [Having infants in your room in and of itself dramatically reduces the chance of SIDS.] I suspect your sister wouldn't either once the baby is no longer a hypothetical. Wouldn't help anyway... the cat would still be upset by the change in overall routine; why would this one thing out of all the others make such a big difference?

I'm a cat person... love them to death... but they've got small brains, they can adapt. If your sister and her SO manage to feed the cat on time and change the litter at acceptable intervals, they'll be miles ahead of most of us during the first few months. Just make sure the cat gets indivdual attention every day... brush it if it likes to be brushed, rub its ears, whatever.

One thing they can do it put as much baby stuff out as possible before the baby arrives so the cat has time to adapt to (and mark) some of the physical changes in the environment. I've also heard that if the baby is born outside the home it's helpful to bring an article of clothing that smells of the baby home for the pets to sniff.
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#3 of 6 Old 02-03-2003, 03:35 PM
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ITA with NoHiddenFees:

Our cat was 9 when DD came along and had always slept on my bed, usually between DH and I curled up by our faces, but sometimes by our feet.

When DD came along the cat had NO desire to be anywhere near her. As far as the cat was concerned, DD a strange noisy creature prone to sudden movements - kitty stayed away, sleeping at our feet. It wasn't until recently (about a month ago) that kitty started getting used to DD and decided to try and reclaim her space between us. Believe me, anyone who has slept with a cat for years cannot help but be woken up by them trying to wedge themselves between you and your nursing babe, lol! We just repeatedly banished her to the lower end of the bed and soon she gave up.

Tell your sister she has nothing to worry about and should keep both little ones in the bed!

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#4 of 6 Old 02-03-2003, 03:49 PM
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ITA with NHF and P68 - the cat will adapt. The cat will likely live under the bed or some other safe place (our cats chose the laundry room, just about as far away from the bedroom as it's possible to get in our house). Our cats have adapted so well they now treat ds just like they treat us - as furniture that feeds and scritches them. : We have had to toss them off the bed and even out of the room to teach them that no, they don't get to sleep on ds.

Your sis should make a special effort to love the cat when baby gets home, but shouldn't worry about the co-sleeping thing.

Besides, new research has shown that the presence of animals in the home helps kids under the age of one develop their immune systems so that they don't develop asthma - so think of cat co-sleeping as an immune booster!

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#5 of 6 Old 02-03-2003, 04:54 PM
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Good advice above. Our cat is adjusting just fine to DD and I'm a lot less worried about co-habitation than before the birth now. (All the above fits what I've seen happening since we brought DD home.)

I would like to add, though, if your sister thinks she does need to make certain changes in what the cat is allowed to do where (for her own peace of mind), all I can suggest in addition to the good advice above is that she make those changes starting NOW while she's still pregnant and baby isn't there.

That way, the cat has time to adjust before baby comes and there is less a chance that the cat sees the baby as pushing it aside or taking its place. If you see what I mean?

Our cat used to sleep on me but I couldn't stand the weight of our cat (BIG cat) anywhere near my belly or boobs when pregnant so she got weaned of that before DD came. And now the cat just snuggles on my lap instead of my chest. Which is great since DD is often snuggling on my chest... (but between the two of them, the weight sure pins me down, LOL).
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#6 of 6 Old 02-04-2003, 01:11 AM
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we've got three cats - and all of them used to sleep in bed with us. we didn't restrict them after our son came along, they just chose to stay away. now that he's 10 months old, i usually don't let them in the room only b/c they're a huge distraction. you see, my son thinks his kitties are the coolest (and therefore would rather play with them than sleep). tell your friend not to worry.
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