Pets and babies seem like a match made in heaven, but it doesn't always end up that way. If you've owned a beloved pet for awhile, you know how loyal they are to their person. And as an official part of the family, they probably feel like it's your duty to run things by them before you commit to any big life changes. So the whole "having a baby" thing? Yeah, that might be a problem for them. In fact, there may be some subtle signs your pet resents your baby.
When my daughter was an infant, my partner and I owned a cat who instantly hated her. Like, it's unreal how fast he decided she was the end of his life as he knew it. From the moment we brought her home from the hospital, this cat hissed and hid, clearly cursing me and my life choices. I'd love to say things ended peacefully, but by the time my daughter started crawling, then walking, things took a turn for the worse. Not only did our cat seriously resent our child (who'd been around awhile by this point and obviously wasn't going anywhere), he actually became aggressive toward her.
Luckily, we found a great home for him with a family that didn't have any children, but I hated to be in that position in the first place. The optimist in me hoped he'd come around, but I guess some pets just don't get along with miniature humans. Of course, that's also an extreme case, and there are many fur babies that learn how to get along with human babies. In the end, and just like newborns themselves, it depends on the pet. So with that in mind, here are some signs you pet is harboring a lingering resentment toward your baby that you should probably, you know, deal with.
They Show Disdain Via Hissing Or Barking
The first telltale sign your pet is, er, unhappy with your new permanent guest is their tendency to hiss or bark when the baby is nearby. It's a warning, essentially, reminding you that they were here first so you should take that tiny human elsewhere... and ASAP.
According to Petful, a dog is feeling threatened and might bite if they show their teeth and expel a low, rumbling growl. And according to WebMD, your cat is feeling threatened if their arch their back, flatten their ears, or manipulate their meow.
They Refuse Your Attention When The Baby Is Near
Some pets may act out by punishing you, essentially. Maybe they blame you for bringing this loud, needy person into their space, so to show you how not cool it was they avoid you completely.
A 2013 study found that 50 percent to 70 percent of cats turn their heads when they hear sound, and 30 percent move their ears. In other words, your cat can definitely hear you when you call... they're just ignoring you, and likely on purpose. So if they bolt when the baby's around, or refuse to come when they're called, they resent that tiny human in your arms.
They Act Out
Pets act out for a lot of different reasons. If you've moved, or there's a change in their normal schedule, your dog might tear through the garbage, or your cat could scratch up the furniture.
My cat, who was generally sweet, lost it when our daughter was born. It was like she transformed into another cat I didn't know or recognize. Before I knew it she was peeing in odd places, scratching everything in sight (including me), and growling at the baby. Yeah. I think he resented her.
Have a passive-aggressive pet on your hand? Well, take it from me: it could be worse. After all, it's my preferred de-escalation tactic, so I have mad respect for any pet who'd rather run off, or hide in the closet, than deal with the crying baby in their room.
They Groom Excessively
It may not be a "red flag," per se, but any pet who's constantly grooming is likely being triggered by something. If nothing else has changed, consider all that bathing to be their way of telling you "your baby is gross and it's stressing meowt." According to Healthy Pets, excessive grooming can be a sign of anxiety and stress.
Their Food Habits Change
When my partner and I brought our daughter home, our cat started binge eating. All day and all night, all he would do was eat. While changes in your dog's eating habits can be a sign of a wide variety of issues, from food allergies to metabolic issues, according to Animal Care Center, it can also be a sign they're stressed, according to Pet MD, especially if their appetite decreases.
They Won't Let You Out Of Sight
While our cat decided I was the actual worst for having a kid, he was my partner's best friend. I got hisses and avoidance, while he got clinginess and neediness. According to The Spruce Pets, cats will show "attention-seeking behavior" — like loud meowing or crying - for emotional reasons. And while sudden clinginess in a dog could be health related, according to Puppy Leaks, it could also be a sign of separation anxiety.
The arrival of a new family member is a big adjustment for everyone, pets included. But there are ways to help ease your furry friend into this life transition, so everyone can benefit from the addition of a miniature human.