“My cat is jealous of my new baby”, is quite a common statement on the internet. Is it jealousy? Or is it a territorial thing? Or both, and more besides.
This is a real situation and one we read about on the internet not infrequently. Some mums (moms) give up their cats when they have a new baby but that is unnecessary. However, it seems that some cats relate to the new family member as an unwelcome intruder onto their home range (the cat’s territory, which is the house and perhaps back yard etc.) and also, perhaps, as an interloper breaking up a stable family unit and existing relationships.
A visitor, Jasmin, made a comment, yesterday on this tricky topic….
I have a cat that has been living with me for almost 7 years. Her name is Baby and she has been spayed.
She sleeps with me every night ever since we adopted her from an animal shelter.
Ever since our daughter, Leah came into our lives last September, Baby has been showing signs of jealousy towards our girl.
The latest incident happened on 01-24-13 at about dinner time. Baby turned around instead of joining us for dinner (my wife, daughter, another cat named Sophie & myself). We didn’t see Baby at all during the entire time we had dinner.
What happened was Baby went into my daughter’s room and defecated in one corner of the room.
Baby has previously smacked Leah on her head and cheeks. She has even lured my daughter into giving her a kiss and then smacked her on her head.
Baby has hissed many times at Leah even though both of them have played together nicely as well and giving each other kisses.
How can I stop Baby’s behaviour or is she just plain jealous of my daughter?
I answered the question as best I could but I would love it if one or two people could assist in finding a neat solution, if there is one. My personal view is that there is no neat solution.
The problem is about the individual character of each cat. Some cats won’t mind so much and some cats will be upset and stressed. Defecating in the corner of a room is scent marking and a sign of stress due to territorial issues.
In summary, my suggestion was (a) that Jasmin spent more time with her cat to try and offset the stress and (b) allowing more time to adapt and adjust to the new family member, which applies to all the family.
I also believe that for some cats no amount of time can resolve the problem. It may be partially resolved but for some individual cats life is never as good again. It can be hard as well, to tell if a cat is stressed or discontent. Not all cats will pee on the bed or whatever as a sign of distress.
In the wild, cats fight over territory. One cat wins. He has his territory. It is not shared. In the wild cat world of the big cats a male cat will have female territories within his extended range.
Feral cats choose their associates (friends). The introduction of a baby is rather like the introduction of a new cat into a household where there are existing cats. There is no automatic acceptance of the new cat by the existing cats. Cats do have preferences and ideas on who they like as an associate.
Returning to the case in point, there may be other factors that are causing the cat to be stressed and it would be wise, I feel, to check all the possibilities as well the central issue: the introduction of a new “cat” (the baby girl Leah) into the household.