Uniting pets and children in the home

 

     Two and a half years ago we adopted two beautiful little kittens and welcomed them with open arms. Being from a pet-free home this situation was met with some challenges, but over the years we’ve grown to adore these two. One is a Male named Guinness, and the other is a Female named Daphne. Oh and did I mention they are brother and sister? They like to spend their days lounging around and their nights partying like it’s 1975. You can imagine that bringing a baby into this equation wasn’t the easiest. At first they didn’t seem to pay A any mind and as soon as they heard her cries, under the bed they ran; can’t really blame them for that. Soon A started to become mobile and they took great notice to this advancement. They would pass her and make sure to leave a few extra inches as they went by. But now that she is fully up and running it’s harder for them to avoid her. I remember the first time she plopped onto Guinness, he looked so terrified I thought he might have a heart attack. We make sure to never leave A alone in a room with either cat, unless she is sleeping. They have never once swiped or hissed at her, but as parents we can’t take the chance. I will say Guinness shows more of an interest in A than Daphne does; but she has always been a bit timid. Guinn will put up with A’s tugs and pats, in fact he will follow her all around the apartment if he’s in the right mood. Over time she will learn how to be more gentle and I’m sure by then both cats will be accustom to the rough ways of a toddler. I am grateful that the transition hasn’t been too stressful, so I’ve added a few tips that I believe helped us significantly.

Create a space just for your pet
When A was a baby we bought a little bed for the cats, and although only one of them took to it, I found it helped quite a bit. Daphne would lay in it whenever A was napping and it certainly helped calm her. She knew this was her spot and instead of hiding, she would go right to her bed and watch the “chaos.” 
Set aside one on one time
Sometimes we fail significantly in this department because well, life. But I’ve noticed when we set aside time to give them both attention we find they hide less. And now we are teaching A to do the same thing. This helps with every ones bond and initiates a positive learning experience. 
Remember that both babies and animals are unpredictable
Although our cats have never attacked or have shown hostility towards us (OK, there was that one time I took Guinn to the groomers…but that story is for anther time), we are fully aware that both babies and animals run on instinct. This is a new experience for everyone and we want to create a safe environment. I will say these days I don’t go running into A’s room if a cat is in their with her, but when she was first mobile I made sure to be present at all times. I show her how to treat the cats instead of telling her what to do. I also reassure the cats if she has been rough with them, which helps establish an even ground for them. 
Give your pet the benefit of the doubt
This experience can be hard for your pet. Any sort of change can cause them stress, but reminding yourself this is out of their comfort zone helps. There will be times they will rebel, and in the moment you will be frustrated, but I encourage you to take a step back and remember this won’t last forever. 

Lifestyle, Motherhood
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