Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Additions

Whenever I get the privilege to see a new puppy or kitten, there's a small part of me that thinks, "wouldn't it be great to have a puppy or kitten?".  Then I think about all the hard work, cleaning and training and the desire passes.  At some point, I'm sure we will add another four-legged member to our family, but not any time soon.  The ones we have right now take up enough work.

When I first brought my cat Duchess home to meet with my family dog Hayley, it was love at first sight.  That was one of the reasons I was actually able to keep her in my family's house despite them originally not being cat lovers.

A couple years later, when I was ready to get a dog.  I carefully tried to prepare my cat.  I placed a feline pheromone called Feliway diffuser (kind of like a plug in diffuser).  I was initially skeptical and thought maybe it was just expensive water, but as soon as I plugged it in Duchess started rubbing up on it and purring.  She could obviously smell something I couldn't.  The 30 pound rottie/shepherd/lab (we don't know for sure, but that's my best bet) puppy was still a little much for her.  Let's just say he's always kind of been like a bull in a china shop.  I think that he's the biggest reason my son has really good balancing skills.  When you've grown up with a 60 pound dog who's tail is a force of nature, you learn how to keep your balance.

I always provided a safe area for Duchess to escape to (my bedroom) and when I wasn't around to supervise, I kept Dewey (the dog) in the kennel.  I did this for awhile, and tried to prohibit the dog from chasing the cat.  Until, one night I noticed the cat sticking her paw and probing the dog with it,  taunting him.  From then on, whenever Dewey chased her, I knew it was probably because she deserved it.  She still rules the roost and kicks the 60 pound dog off of his spatial bed so she can have it to herself.  Every 6 months or so Dewey and Duchess' relationship became stronger.  So strong, at this point, I'm worried what will happen if we lose Dewey first, because Duchess can't tolerate being separated from him.

Originally, my husband wasn't a huge cat fan, but I really recommend others do what we did when introducing cats to significant others.  My husband moved into our house and I didn't join until a couple months later, once we were married.  About a month or two before we got married, I moved my cat in with my soon to be husband.  I was hoping this would help with the transition and also minimize her anxiety of having her whole apartment packed up in boxes and worry about that as she is a very sensitive, anxious cat.  It ended up working out well, because my cat bonded with my husband.  He was the first face she saw and the last face she saw every morning and he fed her, gave her treats and let her sit on his warm lap when he read the paper.  They bonded.  Almost to the point where I'm jealous.  If I had moved in at the same time as my cat, I suspect she wouldn't have bonded, or not nearly as well, because she would have had her favorite human and in a feline world, they like to have "preferred associates" and don't need to be social butterflies.

We knew we were hoping to have children so the room we were intending on having as a nursery we kept both the dog and cat out of, so that way, once we had a small one, they wouldn't think that they were getting kicked out by our newest addition.  We also tried to acclimate them to the sounds of a baby, by having friends bring a baby over and playing the noises on TV, so a baby's cry wouldn't be a completely new event.  We also had my parents bring home a receiving blanket from the hospital with our son's scent and put it in the middle of the family room.  Both the dog and cat got familiar with the scent on their own terms.  When we brought the baby home, we had a grandparent stay in the car with him while I went inside and spent a little bit of time with both the dog and the cat.  This way, they got to greet me from my "trip" and didn't associate this new little baby with not getting attention or to be able to greet me.  The first week or so, both the dog and the cat would get up anytime we did a late night walk to the nursery.  After that time, the dog thought the crying was no longer interesting.  The cat continued to be protective of our son and continues to today.  She does not like to hear him in distress or crying and will let us know...

Whether you are adding a dog, cat or kid to your family, the website below has great information about making the transition as smooth as possible.


As discussed in a previous post http://allcreaturesgreatandcrazy.blogspot.com/2015/05/sibling-conflict.html
always be alert of everyone's safety and signs of stress while bringing your family together.  I still tell my clients and abide by it myself, no matter how wonderful your pet is, don't leave your pet and child alone in the same room.  Too many things can happen.  Once your child is of the age where he/she is responsible and can defend (or run away) you may be able to consider this, I wouldn't consider leaving my son alone with my pets under 7 years of age though.

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