Friday, July 13, 2012

Interspecies Jealousy

Boo Bear posing. See: Attention, Crying for.
I used to be SO in love with Booyah. He was always the wallpaper on my phone. I set my alarm to go off 5 to 10 minutes earlier just so I could give him some good morning pats. He was worth getting up before the sun rises - at 8 years old he still chases his tail, attacks cat nip toys and is the most vocal cat you've ever met. When I came home from work, he would run to the door and greet me with a squeaky meow, a telltale sign he had just woken up from a nap. We would cuddle or hang out together until Chris got home.

Fast-forward to late January. I enter the hospital with irregular bleeding. We spend the night. I have an emergency c-section. We spend the night. The next day Chris is able to get home for an hour to shower and put out fresh food and water for Booyah. We spend the night at the hospital. The next day, we bring Hannah home. Booyah looks happy to see us. Not so much the little crying human in the car seat.

Those first few weeks were the worst. Poor Booyah got put on the back burner. We always made sure he had food, water and clean litter. But our pats and cuddle sessions seemed to all but disappear. I even went out and bought him some new toys because I felt guilty I didn't have as much time to pay attention to him. I was so happy when Hannah reached his weight because it meant I could pick him up and cuddle him.

Checking out the Baby Einstein
When Chris went back to work and it was just me, Boo Bear and Hannah I used him as a sounding board. "Do you think she's crying because she's hungry?" "Meow." "Or maybe she's tired?" "Meow." "Maybe she just doesn't know what she wants?" At this point, Boo usually got sick of the conversation and left the room.

Booyah loves to hide in the bathtub or beneath the covers of the bed. Being on mat leave, I've realized a cat sleeps so much more than humans assume (and that the term "cat nap" really needs more thought - Booyah naps for HOURS, Hannah naps for minutes...). Of course, as soon as Hannah started to fuss, Booyah would suddenly make an appearance and add his noise to the mix. Try dealing with a crying newborn and a crying cat trying to trip you at your feet. Not fun.

I think Booyah has finally accepted Hannah as a member of the family. The first few times we went out with her and brought her back, he looked at us like "You mean, you didn't return her to wherever you got her?" Now he just greets all of us with his usual squeaky meow. Of course, this could just mean he's now adjusted to the new pecking order of our family.

As for Hannah, she is in love with Booyah. She likes to stare at him while we all sit on the couch. She has grabbed his fur a few times, and I try to use her hand to gently stroke his back. Booyah returns the favour by licking her face. And sometimes he attempts to lay/nap with her. Having Boo in her life will teach Hannah empathy, and new research says living with a cat could even strengthen her immune system.

Hopefully as the years go by, Booyah will realize Hannah is another person who can feed him treats, pet him and throw him a toy to catch. Another human who will love him and take care of him. And one day, I bet he will become the centre of Hannah's attention.

Besides, Booyah loves to knead my post-baby belly. So he's already gotten something positive out of this whole situation.

How did your pet(s) adjust to baby?

© 2012 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.


  1. I can totally relate to this. My poor dog has been so jealous every since my daughter has come on the scene. It is so hard to give him the attention he deserves. I can't wait until they can be friends. For now, though, it goes something like this: Baby loves dog. Baby pulls dog's fur. Mommy tries to prevent Baby from pulling dog's fur. Dog tolerates fur pulling, but is not pleased about it. Dog is wary of Baby. Baby interprets this wariness to mean "let's be friends".

  2. also makes me wonder how priorities will shift if a (human) sibling comes on the scene...


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