Percy Sutherland isn’t your typical big brother. He’s happy to let his little sister Hannah (16 months) dress him up in baby clothes, and push him around in her doll’s pram. Percy just adores Hannah, and even watches her while she sleeps.
Percy is a red-and-white tabby bi-colour exotic shorthair cat; a laid-back, placid guy who will do anything for a tummy-rub.
He became part of Therese and Chris Sutherland’s family as a kitten three years ago. The couple loved their inquisitive little fur-baby, but always knew they wanted a real child, laughs Therese. But how would Percy react to a new little human sharing his space?
Throughout Therese’s pregnancy Percy slept close to her ever-growing tummy – which he didn’t do before, or after Hannah was born.
The couple set up Hannah’s room over time, slowly filling it with baby paraphernalia, so Percy got used to the new things. A friend suggested they keep the baby’s bedroom door open so Percy wouldn’t feel left out.
However, when they bought a bassinet, Percy assumed it was a cosy new nest for him.
Therese was a little worried about Percy jumping into the bassinet when she brought her baby home, so she put a blown up balloon in the bassinet to put him off. To her surprise, it worked. You can also just tie a balloon to the bedroom door, Therese says, there’s something about balloons that cats don’t like!
Once Hannah was born, Percy wasn’t interested in getting into the bassinet. He preferred watching Hannah sleeping from the bedside table.
Therese says he loved having a baby in the house because she and Chris were at home more.
“I was up all hours so he got a lot of extra attention then too. While I was feeding her, he’d curl up on the other side of me,” says Therese.
“When we did go out, we’d come back to find Hannah’s toys spread out in the kitchen, so he must have played with them!”
The couple were careful to keep Percy’s routine the same, feeding him in the same place and at the same times.
And now Hannah and Percy are almost inseparable.
“She runs around the house with a piece of string that he chases. She pushes him in her doll’s pram, she tries to dress him in her socks and shoes, she feeds him his treats.”
And when Percy needs his personal space, he climbs to the top of a wall unit in the lounge, while Hannah sits at the bottom saying, ‘up please!’
Read our article on tips for introducing your cat to your newborn.