*This story is dedicated in loving memory of our beloved cat, Lily, who we lost in January 2016 to cancer.
Our pets are more than just pets as they become a part of our family. When my husband and I moved into a place of our own, we knew that we wanted to share our lives with a furry family member. We decided that adopting a cat would be the best option for us. We adopted our cat, Lily (6 years old), from a humane society in 2009 and she instantly brought great joy to us. Lily came with a past of abuse, neglect and abandonment. The transition to get her comfortable with us took some time and we helped her along the way to trust us.
After nine months, she was so comfortable that she slept on my husband's lap for the very first time and she just got more loving from there. Lily got lots of love and attention as she was our one and only. So as soon as we got the news of a baby entering our lives, we knew we had to start early in teaching Lily that a new family member will be joining us. With time and care we knew that they would become the best of friends really early on.
During my pregnancy and preparation for our new arrival, we would allow Lily to smell all the baby clothes and any other items we had for the baby. The beautiful part is that animals' sense change and Lily knew that something was coming. Lily would also lie her head on my tummy many times and our vet told us that she can hear the baby's heartbeat which we thought was amazing!
Before Baby Arrived Home
Since I had to stay in the hospital for a couple of days, it gave us the opportunity to bring home the blanket that our baby was wrapped in home first. My husband brought it home and allowed Lily to smell the blanket and kept it in Lily's favourite spot. This blanket then became Lily's blanket as she loved it.
Baby Arrives Home
When we got home from the hospital we brought the car seat into our bedroom and placed it on our bed for Lily to see. Lily looked in the car seat and slowly smelled the baby. Lily just looked at my husband with inquiring eyes. We told Lily that her sister has arrived and that our love has just tripled for her. One more person to now love Lily and for Lily to love.
Baby Love and Bond
As the days turned to months, we slowly taught Lily what was okay to do and what was not okay to do with a baby. Lily learned quickly and bonded with our daughter very early on. At first, it was frightening for Lily to hear baby screams and cries but she adjusted quickly. With time, Lily would run to our daughter if she was crying in pain and wouldn't leave our side until our daughter was okay. It's amazing how Lily was able to tell the difference between a pain and fussy cry. Lily would also follow our daughter everywhere she went and loved to play with her. The bond between them has been beautiful to see grow.
Cat Love and Bond
Not only do we need to teach our furry family members how to interact with our babies, we as parents have to teach our babies how to interact with them as well. Of course, only as our daughter got older we started showing her how to interact with Lily. Babies can be very rough as they don't know any better so I knew I had to patiently teach her how to pet and love Lily. Eventually our daughter learned how to pet Lily with lots of love and as she pets, we say "nice". This way she knows to be gentle. Many times our daughter would want to hug and kiss Lily but of course Lily being a cat she wasn't a big fan but she never complained. Nikki just adored Lily and every other cat and dog she meets.
The bond that they have created is heartfelt and sincere. I know that the love they have for each other will be treasured for the rest of their lives.
Advice for Others
- Start the transition early with your furry family members. Let them smell the baby items and talk to them about the new addition. You would be surprised on how much they understand.
- Have your furry family member smell a baby blanket from the hospital before the baby arrives home. This will help them recognize the scent when your baby goes home with you.
- Be patient, present and help your furry family member(s) adjust to the new baby.
- Don't forget to teach your baby as they grow how to treat their furry family members as well. This is very important as you want your child to love and treat them with respect and kindness.
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