Both Jason and I are animal lovers. He had cats, and I had cats and dogs. When we were dating in college, he had three cats and I had my two. It’s probably a good thing that we didn’t live together back then, because all three of his kittehs were outdoor cats. I was a staunch supporter of keeping mine inside.
When I left for Korea, I left my two cats (Millie and Lillith) with my family. It was hard for me to leave them since I’d had them both (they are 4 years apart) since they were each kittens. When I came back after my initial trip to Korea in the summer of 2009, I was distraught: they essentially forgot who I was. This made it hard to leave again when I actually moved to Korea a few weeks later.
While in Korea, Jason and I decided to get ourselves a kitten. We figured that it would be fine getting the new cat back to the States when we moved home and my cats would adjust eventually. Well, we didn’t get a kitten; we got two. Two little boy Siamese cats (Abner and Ebeneezer). And we did get them home fairly easily–they actually seemed to have had better in-flight accommodations than we did. They’ve even been to more countries than I have! And the girls did eventually adjust to them. Although Millie (she’s 11) would pick on Ebeneezer (the smaller Siamese) mercilessly up until we moved into our new house last November. Now, everyone gets along and plays cat-tag and cat-chase and cat mock-fight. It’s been great. A real catopia.
When we first started trying to get pregnant, I was sort of hoping it would happen ASAP so I wouldn’t have to clean the kitty-litter (that’s not the ONLY reason I wanted it to happen ASAP, but one of a list of things). I was more concerned with the fumes of ammonia than the threat of toxoplasmosis. And I really never bought into that whole “cats steal baby’s breath” myth. If you have / have had cats, you know what I mean when I say I really hate the litter box. And lo, a month and a half after first ‘trying,’ I’m pregnant and Jason is the official and for-now cleaner of the cat box.
Since moving into the house, we’ve tried to keep the cats out of the intended baby room. My girl, Millie, sheds a lot. The boys do too. And Lillith, being a Maine Coon, gets hairballs you don’t even want to know about. So, we try to keep them out of the room. We don’t want baby to be having tummy time, grab a bunch of cat hair, and get it in his mouth. That would suck. I think we’ll have to get a roll out rug or something for him, but we will figure that out when he’s at that stage.
I have been trying to find source literature, you know–RELIABLE INFORMATION–about how my cats are going to interact with the new baby. But a lot of what I find are more for dogs. A lot.
Here I am, 5 months pregnant, and I’m STILL wondering why my cats don’t seem to get the fact that I’m pregnant. And why they insist on not only laying on my belly, but climbing on it, jumping off it, jumping on it (that one hurt, but the cat was pretty high on my chest really…freaked me out though), and don’t seem to get that I DON’T WANT YOU THERE. All of my cats are mamma’s cats and very clingy. At any given moment, I have 2-3 of them within arms reach. I enjoy their affection, I really do. I think it’s adorable and somehow a metaphor for world peace when I have all four of them stretched out in some precarious fashion on my person.
So Millie, Lillith, Abner, and Ebeneezer aren’t so quick about my being pregnant. What about with having a new baby in the house? Lillith was sitting on the top of my wing-back chair I use in the office, gently swishing her tail into my face when I decided to do more research. Google is my friend, and it lead me almost immediately to this gem of information courtesy of the ASPCA.
Now, I’ve done research on the taxoplasmosis before, and by all account we’re pretty safe. All our cats are indoor cats. We don’t feed them raw meat, and they don’t hunt and catch rodents. Growing up, I had a cat from the age of eleven to fifteen. When my family moved to Albuquerque and I eventually got a job in a veterinarian’s clinic while in college (a short-lived job as the doctor’s lovely rottweiler tried to bite my face when I was putting down food for it), I got Millie. And the rest is history. . . meaning that my exposure to any toxoplasmosis has been such that even if my cats did have it, I’ve had THEM for so long that I’m immune. It also means that the baby is immune.
The ASPCA recommends allowing the cats to get used to the idea of the impending new person by introducing baby furniture and letting the cats investigate. By allowing the cats to get used to their new surroundings BEFORE the baby is here, the cats will be less likely to be terrified of those things after the baby arrives. They offer a way to dissuade the cats from getting too comfortable by placing cardboard, covered with double-sided tape on top of the crib mattress and changing pad. Apparently cats HATE sticky.
They also suggest playing baby noises prior to bringing the new baby home. Let me set up this situation for you. Upon reading the article, I searched “baby noises” and found this page. At the same time, Millie is on the floor beside my chair, Lillith is on the back of it, Ebeneezer is on the floor somewhere in the vicinity of my desk, and Abner is at my feet. I find a WAV and press play. New born. Holy Kitteh Crap! Lillith is standing up, her eyes wide and looking super freaked out. Ebeneezer has bolted down the hall. Millie is scooching further under the desk. Abner is chill–for the time being.
Jason comes bounding into the office, super excited to listen. And see the cats’ reactions. As I play a few more variations of baby noises, Abner is done being chill and has gone to find his brother (both cower in the doorway of our bedroom just outside the office). Millie and Lillith are looking for the source–Millie HATES loud noises, when I talk on speaker phone, she attacks the phone. . . has for as long as I can remember. But, after a while, the girls perch themselves on my desk and go with it. The boys are still unsure. This whole thing was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen in a LONG time.
I’ll have to do this several more times in the coming months, but I’m doing it out of love for my baby and my Lumpkins. It’s still pretty damn funny.