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Two kids later, the cats just don't know what to do

The Baltimore Sun

I knew that having kids would change my relationship with our pets, no matter how much I tried to avoid it. But based on the amount of time the cats have spent glaring at me lately, I think I underestimated how much it would change.

Our three cats -- Billy, Spencer and Lucy -- dealt OK when our first son was born four years ago. Billy tried to sleep in the baby’s crib, until there was a baby in it. Then he was over that idea. Mostly, they watched him, and otherwise, they left him alone. But they didn’t act out or anything.

The past year, though, their lives were turned upside-down. First, my husband left for his deployment to Afghanistan, and they weren’t sure what to make of that at all. Then Spencer was diagnosed with kidney disease, and after that happened, he went fast. (I had to have him put to sleep just a few weeks later. It was terrible.) So the remaining two were already not sure what was going on -- where was their favorite person? Where was their de-facto brother?

Then the baby was born, and along with him came five weeks of houseguests who were helping me out. Since then, and even since my husband returned five months ago, they’ve just seemed so confused.

I knew that their lap time would be lessened -- I’m not sitting as much, and often as not, when I am, there’s a kid there. But their reaction to all the chaos has been to follow me around all the time. I never wonder where they are because they are sure to be underfoot. This has cut my patience with them, of course, especially since they always seem to be underfoot right when I am carrying the baby up or down the stairs.

Since I posted about this on the Homefront Facebook page a few days ago, I’ve been making an effort to give them more individual attention, more scritches, allowing more cuddle time before I crash at night. I’m hoping they’ll relax a little and realize that everything really is OK.

The good thing is that Billy and Lucy don’t seem scared of the baby -- they check him out, as they did with his brother. And the boys looooooove the cats. Isaac’s favorite thing is to give them (gentle) hugs, and Aaron lights up whenever he sees them. (This backfires when Billy wants to snuggle with me during Aaron’s middle-of-the-night feedings, waking Aaron all the way up, but oh well. At least there's no ill will toward the baby!)

How has having kids affected your relationship with your pets? And what have you done to help them all get along?

(P.S. If you haven't noticed, we now have Facebook commenting, so you can leave a comment that way and keep the conversation going. Thanks!)

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