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My Pet World: Mom moving pair of felines wonders how to prepare them for new baby too

By Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I have a pair of feline siblings who are 2 years old. They are strictly indoor cats. We are moving from a studio apartment to a house and would appreciate any tips on making the move easier for them. Also, I will be having a baby right before we move, and I'm worried about them jumping into the cradle. They love to cuddle. -- Alexandra, New York, NY

Dear Alexandra,

There are lots of life changes going on in your life right now, and I am glad you're thinking ahead about how your cats will respond.

Let's begin with moving. When the movers arrive, put your felines in an empty room or bathroom, and make sure they have their carriers, beds, cat trees, food and water bowls, litter box, and any favorite beds, so they are comfortable in the room. Turn on a fan or soft sound machine to mask the outside activity. Put a sign on the door that says "do not open, cats inside" to prevent the movers from opening the door.

When the movers leave, pack your cats and all their accoutrements and drive them to your new home. Again, secure them in a bathroom or empty room with their stuff before the movers arrive. When the movers leave, you may be tempted to let them roam the house, but I suggest keeping them in a quiet room for a day or two until you can get unpacked and get things a little more set up. Put plug-in pheromones around the house or get them pheromone collars for them to wear to help them adjust.

In regard to the baby, set up the nursery a few months in advance so they can get used to the room. Keep the nursery door closed unless you can be in there with them to correct them if they try to jump in the crib. Keep some foil on the mattress (their feet won't like landing on that) or shake a can of coins to interrupt the behavior.

This is all pre-baby training. Because there are no guarantees with cats, I replaced the door to my son's nursery with a screen door, so I could check on him visually, and used a baby monitor to listen for his cries. My cats were allowed in the room if I was in the room but ushered out whenever my son took a nap or went to bed for the night.

One more thing: never take a cat over to meet the new baby. Cats need time to observe the new arrival from afar. Some cats will keep their distance for many months, and some will be curious and approach right away. Let them meet the baby in their own time.


Dear Cathy,

I have a 5-year-old terrier mix named Monty. He is a finicky eater. I give him a mix of canned food and kibble, but he won't eat it and ignores it until I spoon-feed him the "good parts" (the canned wet too). He will eventually eat the whole thing, and I reward him with a treat. I know that I am indulging him, but I have tried leaving the food out, but end up taking it away, uneaten. I don't overfeed him treats. I don't know what to do to get him to eat his food without literally spoon-feeding him the first bites. Please give me some advice. -- Jeff, Tucson, AZ

Dear Jeff,

Even though Monty is eating all his food "eventually," it doesn't sound like he has much of an appetite. If you think Monty doesn't care for his food, change the food or make the current diet more appealing by giving him the "treat" in advance, like adding boiled chicken, a few pieces of hot dog, or a high value treat to the meal.

Put some of the "good parts" on a spoon and add the treat onto the spook and leave it next to the bowl to entice him over. (Later ditch the spoon and add the treat to the food directly. We're taking baby steps to wean him off the spoon.) Then sit nearby until he eats, as part of this pattern includes having you close by.

If he doesn't eat the first night, pick up the food and wait until the next day. Don't give him any treats in between. Dogs don't generally refuse to eat altogether unless there is a health problem, so if he doesn't eat the next day, have him checked by a vet.


(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)



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