Tag Archives: Behavior

How to prepare your cat for the arrival of a baby in the family ?

Claire’s adorable sport coach will soon become a dad, that’s what motivated us to write this post.

From a purely feline point of view, a baby resembles an alien from the planet Mars. If it’s not well prepared, his arrival can cause excessive stress or anxiety in your cat, which could result in inappropriate elimination, escape behaviour where the cat will hide, or manifestations of aggression. Indeed, your cat was there before your baby, and it’s important to do everything possible to ensure that everything goes well and that your cat doesn’t consider the baby as a threat, but as a member of his family.

In order to allow your cat to consider your baby as a possibly frequentable human, a few preliminary steps are necessary.

Several weeks before the baby arrives

Let your cat walk around the nursery, and let him be present when decorating and assembling furniture. The change has to happen gradually; let your cat freely explore this new environment as you go.

The door of the baby’s room will be closed at times: get your cat used to the fact that this room will not always be accessible by closing the door at times when it will be closed once the baby is there.

Talc and various lotions have a very special smell. The cat universe is a world of smells, and much of his communication with his congeners goes through this channel. Apply baby products on your skin to get him used to these new smells.

Finally, a baby chirps, babbles, gargoyles, cries, yells, gesticulates awkwardly, briefly said, makes all kinds of noises and gestures: if your cat has never been in contact with very young children, you can make him listen to recordings of baby crying, first at a very low volume. If your cat stays calm, reward him with a treat. Gradually increase the volume and duration, rewarding your cat at every step. If the noise stresses him, play a while with him before playing the recording so that he creates a pleasant game-noise association.

On D-Day

Baby is here, congratulations ! As soon as possible, ask a person who can do it to take a blanket or suit impregnated with the baby’s smell, bring it home, and rub the places where your cat usually rubs to deposit the smell of the newborn baby before leaving the blanket or clothing in a common area (living room for example): this will allow your cat to become familiar with the smell of the baby, and help him to identify the newcomer as a member of the family.

Back home

You will probably be overwhelmed and focused on your baby, but don’t forget your cat: he needs as much attention as before. Keep a certain routine, do not move his litterbox, his bowls or his favorite blanket. Play with him regularly, give him a few treats in the same room while you give the bottle to your baby, congratulate him every time he calmly joins you when you’re in the presence of the baby so that he associates his presence with something pleasant. Let him explore the nursery again now that it’s full of new noises and smells, and don’t force your cat to the baby : if he approaches to smell your baby, watch the maneuver calmly, but let him. Let your cat integrate all these changes at his own pace.

In any case, any interaction between your cat and your baby must be under strict supervision. Plan where your cat will have access, but not your child, right from the start, so your cat can step back when he wants, and escape the little grabbing hands. As your child grows up, teach him to respect your cat: show him how to pet him, teach him how to decode the subtle signs that show to leave the cat alone, and be ready to intervene. Even a very nice cat can scare or unintentionally hurt a child if he’s disturbed or caught off guard.

All these precautions should allow the birth of a long and beautiful friendship, in mutual respect of each other.

Photo by blmurch on Foter.com / CC BY

Does your cat change the resting places with the seasons ?

After going directly from summer to winter, we finally arrived in autumn, with a weather more or less consistent with the season.

We have two cat trees in the living room, in diametrically opposite angles: one towards the entrance, and one in the corner between the two windows, not far from the radiator.

At the season change, I changed my habits: I left the tree near the entrance of the living room, and went back to the other that I had not occupied since March.

Zorro, on the other hand, sleeps more indoors: we can say that he has also changed his habits.

What about your cat ? Does he also change the resting place according to the season ?

Is my cat smart ?

What is intelligence ? Or rather, what are the different characteristics of a kind of intelligence ?

Intelligence is a very complex concept that is still poorly defined : for the moment there is no scientific consensus for a precise definition. In fact, genetics, substances ingested by the mother during pregnancy, nutrition, or even the environment have an influence on the development of intelligence, which leaves thousands of possibilities for a kitten to become a feline genius… or not.

For us, intelligence is the ability to understand, learn and adapt to new situations, and to modify our environment to adapt to our needs.

Is my cat smart - Zorro on the heater

It took a long time for the notion of animal intelligence to be accepted and measured under correct conditions : animals were first subjected to tests similar to those carried out on children. This is of course biased because it completely ignores the specific needs of different species and the environment in which they operate. Is an elephant’s intelligence measured by his ability to climb trees, or a human’s intelligence measured by his ability to hunt mice in a field ?

Is my cat smart - Pixie on her trunk

How do I know if my cat is smart or not ?

That’s the question ! So we have prepared a brief overview of several characteristics of feline intelligence :

  • Is your cat creative ? Has he found a way to open the cupboard you thought was inviolable ?
  • Does your cat have the ability to focus ? Can he stay for hours to watch for the lizard that got under the cabinet, or stalk from the bushes ?
  • Does your cat have a good memory ? If it’s an outdoor cat, does he know how to find the way home ?
  • Does your cat have the ability to form concepts ? For example, wings + black + bzzz = fly = yummy, wings + striped black and yellow + bzzz = wasp = ouch, DANGEROUS
  • Is your cat able to learn new behaviors ?
    – by direct experience : not react by hearing the vacuum cleaner, go to the kitchen when the fridge door opens at the end of the day, meow hard enough and long enough for a human to give me a treat, play with me or open the door to me, discover the hidden treats in a game board, …
    – by transmission : kill a prey by observing how a more experienced cat makes, open a door by pressing the handle, …
  • Does your cat know how to use his body with precision ? Is he skilled ? Can he use his claws or teeth to open a bag of treats ?
  • Does your cat show emotional intelligence ? Does he recognize your emotions and act differently based on them ?

If you answered YES to most of these questions, no doubt, your cat is smart ! A specific training can even help him develop amazing abilities.

Cats and their humans are, however, equal in the face of aging in the sense that this phenomenon can impair their cognitive abilities.

Is my cat smart - Pixie wondering

To learn more about it…

To learn more about animal intelligence, we recommend « Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are ? », Frans De Waal, 2016.
For more information on cat learning, we recommend « The Trainable Cat : How to Make Life Happier for You and Your Cat », John Bradshaw, 2016.
These are two books that we found very comprehensive, interesting, and easy to read.

What manifestations of intelligence did you observe in your cat ? Tell us in your comments !