Cats, Canine and babies
Today a great number of women have chosen to pursue a successful career before motherhood. But many couples that have postponed parenthood haven’t wasted the love they have to give; they’ve simply spent years redirecting it to non-human babies – their pets.
Years later, many couples expecting their first baby are faced with the reality that Fido or Felix may not be too thrilled about the whole idea!
Questions prospective parents-to-be often ask:
• How will an older dog or cat react to the birth of my child?
• What kind of behavior problems—if any—can we expect? Should we get rid of the pets?
Then there are well-meaning friends and relatives who flaunt heart-wrenching tabloid headlines like “Doberman Eats Baby Alive!” and other equally unbelievable (and untrue) horror stories.
These questions, combined with fears of how the pet will react and self-doubt about their own parenting skills, lead many expectant couples to give up their pets.
Ultimately, many of these much-loved animals wind up in the adoption kennels at ananimal shelter. Not all of them find new homes.
While some pets may have a difficult time adapting to the presence of a new family member, most dogs and cats will take the change in family dynamics in stride. In the majority of cases, children, cats and canines can co-exist in the same household.
Common Sense Rules
• Never allow a pet of any kind to sleep in the baby’s crib, playpen, or car seat, or on their toys and blankets.
• Never leave your pet and your baby unattended in the same room. Remember, it only takes a split second for a child (or the pet!) to be scratched or bitten.
• Always keep the door to the baby’s room closed. (Ensure that your cat or dog hasn’t snuck in unseen.)
• Use a baby monitor so you can hear your baby if he or she cries out for you from behind the closed door. If you think you really can’t endure the thought of closing the door, install a screen door for safety’s sake.
• Wash your hands thoroughly after playing with your pet or handling their food or kitty litter.
• Train your dog not to jump up on people, but to sit and stay, well before baby’s arrival.
• Give your pet an opportunity to meet the baby by letting him sniff. Discourage licking!
• Never allow your dog to jump around in your car when you have your baby in the car seat. (Fido can stay at home for a while or leave to ride in a dog crate or be secured with a dog seat belt.)
• Ask a friend or neighbor to help you exercise your dog during the first few weeks, while you adjust to life with a newborn.
• Don’t forget to take time to play with, groom, and bond with your pet when baby is sleeping. Regardless of how much you love your pets now, when your first child is born they can no longer take first place in your heart and home. The important thing to remember is they still can have an important place in your life.
Article submitted by: © Terri Perrin