The following post comes from guest blogger Kali Sakai. On her own blog, Evidently…, Kali shares observation, commentary and funny stories arising from everyday life as a married, pet-owning, Internet savvy, multi-ethnic, shark-loving, do-gooder wannabe, new momma, “Domestic Project Manager” ninja. Read her story of how she handled bringing a new baby home to her cat, Oliver.
Prior to our daughter Sidney’s arrival, we already had a ravenous, excreting, 11-pound bundle of joy: our cat.
Oliver was our first baby and we spoiled him. Whether it was the organic cat food, the newest toys/entertainments like the Cat Cam, Panic Mouse 360, Video Catnip or an automatic electric feeder (so that he would never be without food should we work late, get caught in traffic or become trapped under something heavy)–nothing was too good for our kitty. We also took him on rides when my husband or I would pick the other up at the airport. Oliver would sit in the passenger seat and look out the window. Then he would be the first to welcome Mommy or Daddy back from their respective work trip. He even had a magnetic collar that let him (and only him) in his cat door. Free range inside and out, it was a grand life for a cat. Then, we became pregnant and it all changed.
The small house in which we live had to accommodate our soon-to-arrive offspring and space came at a premium. No longer was Oliver welcome in the office that was being converted into a nursery. The basement (his lair), which he primarily had all to himself, was now encroached upon by our displaced office. There were lots of colorful, new items which arrived by mail or came in the door every weekend for the baby that he was not allowed to lay on or play with.
We took a class at Swedish Hospital that devoted part of the discussion to how pets react to bringing home a baby. The instructor assured us that cats don’t really care much and are not “pack” animals in the sense that they need to know where they fit in the hierarchy. But we knew that this would somehow affect our furry guy. We admit that Oliver is a little odd. He is regal, disdainful, dim but pretty and doesn’t play well with others—cat, human or otherwise. This slightly worried me with a baby. When we had visitors, sometimes he was nice, sometimes he was not. You could never tell which way he was going to go. But how do you prepare a cat for a new arrival? We did make efforts to pet him more and hang out with him but that was it.
When our daughter finally came home, Oliver seemed a little put out that we had brought in this small creature who smelled of poo, cried a lot and caused Mommy and Daddy to wearily trudge by him every 3 hours 24 hours a day on the way to or from a feeding/changing without so much as a pat on the head. Mostly the first 3 months were the worst–those were the dark days. Oliver noticeably began eating more. He seemed to find solace in the food dish. He put on weight. Once he walked into the nursery, looked me straight in the eye and peed on the floor in front of the crib. I was furious but I felt bad too. It was all we could do as new parents to focus on the human child.
As the routine established, we had a tiny sliver of energy to give back to Oliver in the form of a few minutes of petting or talking to him. I took to giving him a dehydrated fish treat everyday as a sort of penance for our ignoring him in the beginning. This is the thing he lives for evidently and is waiting behind the kitchen door at 7:30am every_single_ morning now to bug me for it.
A truly wonderful surprise out of this whole thing is the fondness Oliver seems to have for Sidney. Just about when she became mobile a few months ago, he really seemed to take an interest in her. And the feeling is mutual. Sidney loves to watch Oliver walk around, hop up on boxes, eat this daily treat and walk to the bathroom to drink out of the toilet. I really want her to grow up with animals. I think you develop another level of compassion and further understanding of what it takes to care for another living being. It also makes you more fearless around animals but you also learn boundaries with them. Let the lessons begin…
Read more about Kali, Sidney and Oliver on Kali’s blog Evidently…