We just celebrated our son Bryan’s 2nd birthday last month and looking back it’s great to see how close he has become with our two cats, Axl and Slash. We were anxious how they were going to all get along and feel about each other. Axl and Slash were adopted separately from the same shelter. I got Axl when he was a kitten and Slash when he was a year old, and when we had Bryan, Axl was 3 and Slash was 2.
About three months before Bryan was born, we started thinking about how we would introduce them. Cats are very quirky, so we knew this would be a challenge. We had read to start out slow with the introduction since cats are very territorial. Cats, like dogs, go by scent and need to become familiar with the baby’s scent prior to the first meeting. The best way to do that is to bring home clothing that the newborn has worn and then leave it on furniture or the floor so the cats can get acquainted with the scent. Our cats are very different and have very distinct personalities. Axl is very shy and timid but very sweet and sensitive. Slash has lots of energy and is very sweet but is definitely the alpha male over Axl. Seeing as Axl is more sensitive, we decided we would introduce him to Bryan first.
When the big day came and Bryan said hello to this strange new world, we started the gradual introduction process. Bryan was born a few weeks early, so after 10 days in the NICU he was all set to meet his new furry friends. Before we brought Bryan home, we had been bringing home his clothing and leaving it on the furniture and floor to observe the cats’ reactions. They each reacted timidly at first and would go look at it and sniff it.
After a day or so, Axl sat down and snuggled with the garment and rubbed the side of his face against it. This was a good sign; it meant he liked the scent and was almost claiming it as “his.” Cats do that to claim what they consider “their property.” Basically, humans live to serve their cat masters, according to cats. In a cat’s world they own everything, and humans just exist to feed them, bring them gifts and scoop up their litter. Through his actions, Axl was showing he would be accepting of Bryan. Slash acted a little more guarded towards the clothing, but not aggressive.
When Bryan arrived at our home for the first time, we kept him in his car seat and placed it on the living room floor so both cats could check him out, under our supervision. I sat down next to Bryan and let both cats get acquainted with him. They both sniffed his feet and arms but kept their distance. After about 10 minutes we decided to put Slash in the bedroom and let Axl spend some time with Bryan, as he seemed to be more accepting.
Axl was very curious and eager to learn more about his new human friend. He mostly just observed him and watched his movements. Then we switched and let Slash have some time with him. The entire time we praised the cats and give them treats. It very important to give pets the same amount of attention as the baby so they don’t feel neglected, as it’s a big change for them too. If they feel neglected, they could resent the new baby.
I’m a stay-at-home mom so the cats were able to bond with Bryan and they get to see him grow and learn new things. He’s 2 years old now and he absolutely loves both cats. They are his friends, but when they knock over his food dishes he calls them “Bad Cat.”
He has gotten very close with Axl and they watch “Home Alone” together each night. Axl watches Bryan when he sleeps, to protect him. Slash is more of a typical aloof cat. Bryan doesn’t bother him and vice versa, but I can tell he loves Bryan in his own way. The biggest thing I’ve learned was to keep pets and babies together and not separate them. They can learn something from each other and grow to become best friends.
Laura Harrington is a married stay at home mom to a 2 year old toddler and 2 cats. She has an associates in Fashion Merchandising from FIT in NYC and resides in Connecticut.