Sunday, 2 February 2014

Meow Meow Meow

As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am a full on crazy cat lady. Lots of other bloggers with babies post birth stories (I'm not sure anybody would want to read that, to be honest) but instead this is the story of how Murdoch came into our lives. (His picture graces the banner at the top of this blog)

We always had cats growing up and I can't imagine not having one in the house. We had a much loved family cat who died when he was 16. I had him from the age of 8 to 24 so really, we grew up together. The day he had to be put down was a sad day for our family and years later, we all still talk about him regularly.

About a year after that cat died, I became desperate for a cat of my own. I was like a broody woman wanting a baby. At the time, we were living in New Zealand, where cat ownership is high (much to the detriment of the local wildlife!). There were cats everywhere and the day that Mr HNW caught me trying to tempt the neighbour's cat to come in to the house with a saucer of milk was the day he realised we needed to get a little cat of our own. Our big concern was that we knew we were not going to be in New Zealand forever, but after some discussion we decided the cat would just have to come with us when we left and that was that.

One Easter weekend we went to the Wellington SPCA. The staff were very busy because it was an "adopt-athon" day and there were lots of prospective cat and dog owners in. They asked us four or five questions and then instead of bringing us into the main cat area brought us into the administrative office. There were so many kittens that needed homes that there were two cages in there with a litter of kittens in each one. They pointed us to one cage, said these cats love people and left us to it. I opened the cage and a little black and white cat crawled up my arms and fell asleep in the crook of my elbow, purring loudly. I knew then that this was my cat and Murdoch has been with us ever since.

When we left New Zealand, Murdoch came with us on a three day trip across the world to get him home to Dublin. The trip involved two long car journeys, three flights and a ferry crossing and it cost a small fortune to bring him back but it was worth every penny. It's a story for another time I think.

When I got pregnant a lot of people advised me (aka told me what I had to do, in a way anyone who has had a baby is familiar with) that I would have to "get rid" of Murdoch when the baby arrived or that it was madness to have a cat and a newborn in the house. These were people who did not know me well and it infuriated me. Obviously, I wasn't going to let Murdoch babysit and it's not like cats steal babies souls or anything. I know toxoplasmosis can be an issue but it is rare and there are normal, sensible precautions you can take. People said that Murdoch would smother the baby because they like the warmth or that they can smell milk. To be honest, that's nonsense and people who say that must not know cats well. Cats, in general, do not like things that move when they are trying to sleep on them (as you will know if you have a cat and get up while they are on your lap and have experienced the "death glare" for disturbing their slumber.)

I discussed it with my vet who said that as long as Murdoch was fleaed and wormed regularly and we watched to make sure Murdoch didn't get into the cot on top of him then it was fine. In fact he said that there are studies showing that babies who grow up with pets in the house are less likely to be asthmatic (unless the mother is actually asthmatic herself). We "cat-proofed" J's cot before he was born but Murdoch, of course was having none of it. We found him in there on top of the cat-proof netting so many times that we gave up and just did our best to keep the door closed. He had some kind of cot sensor though and would manage to get in there all the time. He still sneaks in there whenever he can and gets shouted at a lot for taking naps in there (after I took pictures of course because it is bad, but also kind of cute!)

Murdoch, is in fact, very good with J. He is a gentle cat at the best of times but now that J can grab and move about he really has a chance to show that. When they are near each other I watch them carefully in case Murdoch suddenly turns but he just walks off when J gets a bit rough. If J is crying Murdoch will come and sit next to him and give him headbutts (cat kisses) and when Murdoch walks past J starts giggling like it is the funniest thing he has ever seen. I know some people will probably think I'm a terrible mother for letting J and Murdoch sleep like in the photo below but it works for us and I just think it is the cutest thing ever.

So, there really is no reason that pets and babies are not compatible. J and Murdoch already have a little bond and  it's lovely to see them together. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if J's first word is Murdy. As long as you are smart about it and take a few precautions what''s the problem? If I could get ten more cats I would but Mr HNW has vetoed it. Apparently 11 cats, one baby and two parents in a two bedroom apartment is "not a good idea". We'll see!


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If anyone is out there I would love to hear any thoughts you have after reading this blog!