You know, I heard alot of people rehome (ditch, abandon) their pets when they find out they’re pregnant. Either that, or they wait until after they bring the baby home, and then they get rid of the pets. I’ve had friends who were asked point-blank if they’d be removing the pets.
I don’t subscribe to that idea.
It is quite doable to live in a house with a baby and pet(s) and have everyone get along. We’ve been doing it for 8 months, with little problem. But it takes work. It takes diligence on the part of the adult pet owners (aka, parents). And, quite frankly, it takes knowing your pets.
I am pretty dialed in to the personalities and activities of my pets. I know when things change with them. I know what makes them tick. And as much as I love them, I never loose sight of the fact that they are animals. They will behave in certain ways, and it’s my job to learn.
Our prep work started with our baby shower. We received lots of cool baby gear. Slowly, one by one, D started assembling the gear. We’d place it where we wanted that piece to be in the house. Then we’d leave it for the animals to explore. Mind you, they weren’t allowed to sleep in the items. But they were allowed to sniff and get used to them. By doing this a little at a time, we didn’t disrupt the animals’ lives all at once. It was a gradual change they could get used to.
We had grand plans of having my cousin record his infant crying, so we could play that at home, or to take a baby blanket from the hospital for the pets to smell, but well, that didn’t happen.
So we brought baby home to a house of 3 cats and a dog. Things have gone pretty well. Sure, the pets pouted a bit. But they got over it. Now we’re just vigilant for any teaching opportunities…or to diffuse any problem situations.
For example…if a pet comes close while H is watching, we make a big deal of showing her “see we pet kitty nice.” She’s just now becoming fascinated with the animals. So we’ll start her out right…no dragging a cat through this house on her part. (Keep in mind….we have 3 fully-clawed cats.)
Other examples…I know Bugsy the Pug. He loves kids. He won’t bite or nip at H. But Pugs like to stand/stomp on their owners. No idea why, but it’s a Pug thing. So we’re careful to teach him not to step on her.
Or Kieran. He does NOT like it when H plays Squealer Monkey. (Familiar with that high-pitched squeal babies make? Yeah.) But I already knew he’d dislike that noise, since he also gets upset when D whistles. So ok…Squealer Monkey makes her appearance, and I start with Kieran…” It’s ok bud. She’s fine. She’s just making noise. Relax buddy.” He usually calms down.
Then there’s Elly, who likes to climb on things up high….and fall off them. So we have no baby furniture in her “drop zones”, and we remove baby if we see her heading into one. She also likes to go behind our flat screen tv, for some reason. D is still tasked with anchoring that, so I remove baby….and cat, if I can entice her out.
Joey…he’s different. He’s the one that will scratch if he feels cranky. He’s still young. So I just remove him. He’s also the smallest, and easiest to remove.
My secret weapon, though, is knowing whom the animals prefer. I “belong” to the cats, if you know what I mean. So I use that to my advantage. H is sleeping in the pack-n-play, and I need to use the restroom? No problem….all 3 cats follow me. They always have. Even today, 8 months down the line, I headed upstairs to put away laundry, with a crowd of felines. They can’t resist seeing what I might be doing.
Now of course, if allergies were involved, I’d have more to do. But they’ve done studies that suggest children exposed to pets at a young age are less likely to have allergies. D doesn’t have them. I only have skin allergies…and one weird food allergy. That said…we keep the pets out of H’s room. Once every few months I’ll allow the cats in to explore while I’m putting laundry away. But they’re not allowed in her bed ever. And they’re removed from the room when I leave. At night, they sleep in our room, not her’s.
So we’re doing it. It’s possible. No need to rehome pets just because a baby is moving in. I’m determined to make this work with 1 baby, 3 fully-clawed adult cats, and 1 pug. I promised them ALL they had a home for life with me, and I’ll keep that promise. It just takes a little work…and knowing that this is important for D and I, who are HUGE animal loves, and for H, who is already showing herself to be an animal lover. It’s a trait I want to foster.