Life with babies and pets is just the norm for a lot of people. The benefits of having a pet are many for children, but many are not completely on board with the idea. And that includes me too – I am not a pet person. I love animals, don’t get me wrong. But I am not quite ready to put in the commitment that it takes to keep another living being alive, and well, and happy and healthy under my roof! It is tough enough looking after myself and my he-man and little one!
So it is quite fascinating for me when I see families with pets, and I dived into it a little more and spoke to two Doha based pet-mamas to find out about their lives with their babies – human and fur!
Indian mama Jaya Rao – who proudly says she has a family of four – has Simba a 2.5 year old Golden Retriever and Anahita who was born in 2016. Valeria Martinuzzi, who is originally from Italy has a cat – Ninja since 2015, and they welcomed a baby boy, Alessandro in early 2017.
For Jaya, Simba was her companion when she found out she was pregnant. Her husband was travelling on business at the time. “When I saw those two lines on the home pregnancy kit, Simba was the only one who was waiting for me outside the bathroom while my husband was in Abu Dhabi. Simba was the first one I shared the news with my husband was the next person. My immediate concern was I’ll have to share my love with a new member. Simba and I share a very personal bond and sharing that space with someone new actually made me skeptical…I had this unexplainable mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was happy but on the other I was scared that all those time I’m spending with Simba will no more be exclusive.”
Valeria was a bit nervous when she found out she was pregnant. After all, she had been told by a lot of people that it could be dangerous to have a cat during pregnancy, and even after the baby arrived. But she read up about it and knew that it was not the case and that animals respect babies very much indeed.
Life with Babies and Pets – Be Informed
They both agree that there is plenty of misinformation and myths that are around. But information is there for anyone who wants to look for it. Valeria says: “One of the biggest concerns with a cat is that of Toxoplasmosis – which can spread via infected cat litter. It is only dangerous if you inadvertently swallow any particles – so ensure you are washing your hands very well before and after handling the cat. You can even get this illness if you eat undercooked, contaminated meat (especially pork, lamb, and venison). Also make sure to clear out the litter everyday. If you want to go one step further – ask someone else to clear the litter for you! Let husband be on cat litter duty for a while.”
The pets are part of their family, and the preparations for the baby were just like any family would when a second child arrives, while also enjoying the exclusive bond that they share.
Jaya says, “Simba is a family. He is my 1st born. Dogs and cats are blessed with a 6th sense. They can sniff when you are ovulating, menstrual bleeding and pregnancy. When Simba figured out that I became pregnant he became over protective and never left my side once. He used to become all worried when I was suffering from morning sickness. He used to either stand beside me when I used to puke or support my body by standing behind me. When the baby started kicking, he used to put his face on my tummy and experience the baby kicks for hours. So, you don’t prepare them they exactly know what’s going on.”
Life with Babies and Pets – First Meeting
Life after the baby has been interesting for both mamas. “Initially, before the baby arrived, Ninja would sleep in the baby’s cot,” says Valeria “and after the baby arrived, Ninja automatically knew and stayed away for a bit. The first two nights, I did keep him outside our bedroom, and closed the door, and then I felt bad because he hasn’t done anything wrong. After that we have all been inside sleeping together. Ninja also loved mama cuddles, but has realized he’ll need to wait his turn. “Before the baby, Ninja used to sleep on me every time I was on the sofa, but now the baby Ale is with me. So, he patiently waits for his time.”
Simba stayed at Pampered Pets for the first two weeks after Anahita arrived – to allow Jaya and her husband the time to get used to and settled with a new born. “He came home on 14th day after my baby was born. She was in the crib and I introduced him to his new sister. He immediately fell in love with her. He never left her side. When she used to cry, he used to drag me from whichever room I was in. Even in the middle of the night when baby used to cry, he used to become all alert and concern. In short he became her third parent.”
Jaya adds that having Simba around also helped her deal with baby blues. “When I was highly stressed out the in the initial months of post-partum all I used to do was hug Simba or talk to him and I used to feel great. It was therapeutic. During such stressful times, I feel it is better to surround yourself with dogs than humans. These fur babies are non-judgmental and highly devoted to you.”
Life with Babies and Pets – Lifetime Friends
The bond between Simba and Anahita has evolved since the day they met. “In the initial months, he was devoted to her. Then, when she started sitting/crawling on her own, he became less concerned and even became jealous at one point as his momma was spending more time with his sister than with him. When my baby become more communicative, they have become thick of friends as she shares her food and toys with him.”
Valeria is looking forward to seeing a deep bond develop between Ale and Ninja, now that Ale is growing up and will be more responsive.
Life with Babies and Pets – Misconceptions
Both mommas agree that the biggest misconception there is about having a pet is that the pets will attack the baby. Both vehemently oppose that idea. Valeria says: “Don’t listen to people try and scare you about cats jumping on babies! The funny thing is that I have only heard that from people without pets.”
Another misconception, according to Jaya, is dogs carry lots of germs and baby might get affected. She explains that her reading and research suggests that studies have revealed that dogs can actually help to boost baby’s immunity system by 70%.
Valeria and Jaya agree that it is important to ensure that the pets receive their vaccinations on time. “Your pets are your family, and you should not give one up just because you are having a baby. Stay relaxed and continue to love them and nurture them as always. Life with babies and pets is quite rewarding indeed!”