My son, Jordon, was born on the winter solstice 13 years ago. On our last day in the hospital, I called my other son, Tishon, who was at home taking care of our cat, Earl Grey. A nurse overheard my conversation and asked, “What are you going to do with your cat?”
I had her repeat the question because I clearly didn’t understand it.
“When you bring your son home,” she said, “what arrangements do you have for your cat?”
I told her that we had no arrangements, and that I looked forward to introducing our new son to our cat.
She gave me an odd look and said, “You should be very careful. Don’t leave your son alone with the cat ever.”
I was starting to take offense. We found Earl three years prior, and he was an integral part of our family. The thought of getting rid of him because we were bringing home a baby didn’t enter my mind. I wanted to raise a child who loves animals just as much as I do.
Unfortunately, a lifestyle change—like having a baby—is one reason people give up their pets.
The nurse was correct when she said that I should not leave Earl alone with my son. Tragedies can occur, so it is best to keep a watchful eye over both child and pet. You want to keep them safe.
When we pulled into the driveway of our house, my husband sat in the car with our new son. I entered alone and lavished a lot of love on Earl. Then I went back to the car and got Jordon. We sat on the sofa for a while, and Earl came over and sniffed Jordon.
As Jordon grew into that baby grabby stage, I made sure Earl was safe. Jordon knew that Earl was part of the family. They were buddies.
Last year was hard on all of us when we had to put Earl down. He was 21, and developed kidney failure. I’ve had cats before with kidney failure, and knew that ending his life would be the kindest act. However, it was hard, especially on Jordon, who grew up with Earl.
A few months after Earl’s passing, we decided to adopt two kittens from a nearby shelter. Jordon requested kittens even though I wanted an older cat. Kittens can be a handful. Jordon’s response was that he was afraid an older cat wouldn’t be around as long as a kitten. As I explained to him that anything can happen, he insisted. On this one, my husband and I gave in.
When we brought the kittens home and watched them play, Jordon remarked that “watching the kittens was more fun than playing on the iPad.”
A few weeks ago a friend of mine came over for lunch with her new baby. She knows I have cats. When she and her son, Henry, who was six months old at the time, entered and sat down in the living room, my two cats sniffed him. Karma showed some interest. Chai, however, took an immediate liking to Henry. When my friend put Henry down on his blanket, Chai proceeded to curl up next to him. She was extremely gentle.
I was beaming at how well my cat was behaving. Cats and babies can bond, and the nurse was right about being watchful.
The ASPCA has helpful guidelines on how to get your cats and dogs used to your new baby.
Michele C. Hollow writes about pets and wildlife here and at her blog, Pet News and Views.