Cats and Babies - Is There a Danger?

We have all heard many a scary saying about cats and babies. . .

If a cat hears a baby crying he will think another cat is in the house and climb into the cot to harm the baby.

A cat will steal the breath from a baby.

If a cat smells milk on a baby's breath it will lick the baby's mouth and smother it.

Old wives tales about cats and babies all of them.

In years gone by, before we knew anything of SIDS, if a dead infant was found and there happened to be a cat nearby then the cat got the blame.

A cat is extremely unlikely to suffocate a baby.

Cats are curious and a new baby may be something they want to investigate.

Babies give off warmth and a cat may try to climb into the crib to share that warmth.

Babies may have traces of milk around their mouths and a cat may try to lick it off. But it is extremely unlikely that a cat would harm a baby, let alone suffocate it.

Of course it is not recommended that cats and babies sleep together and you should not leave your cat alone in the same room as your baby.

A net can be fixed over the crib so your cat cannot snuggle in with baby. Some parents replace the door to the baby's room with a screen door allowing the cat to see, and smell baby and not feel completely excluded.

Another scare about cats and babies is not so much an old wives tale, but not too much of a danger either.

baby and kittens

Toxoplasmosis can cause defects in the fetus if a woman is infected during pregnancy, this is especially so for a first pregnancy.

It used to be recommended by some to get rid of your cat if you became pregnant. This was because of the perceived risk of contracting toxoplasmosis from your cat.

Knowledge moves on and thankfully that advice is no longer given.

Although cats can carry the Toxoplasma parasite, simple precautions will protect you from catching the disease from your cat.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite that can infect your cat if she or he eats prey that is contaminated with the parasite, or comes into contact with infected earth as toxoplasmosis parasites live in the soil. For your cat to pass it on to you, you would have to be in contact with your cat's feces.

Eating undercooked, or raw meat, or unwashed vegetables is a greater risk of catching toxoplasmosis than being in contact with your cat, and is in fact the commonest way that humans beings become infected.

Stick to your normal hygiene vigilance, don't allow your cat anywhere near your kitchen work-surfaces and always wash your hands if you touch your cat.

Wash vegetables very carefully and wash your hands after handling meat and make sure that it is cooked correctly.

Give the chore of cleaning kitty's litter box to someone else while you are pregnant, or if you have to do it yourself wear disposable gloves and wash your hands directly afterwards.

Should you do any gardening wear gloves at all times and . . . wash your hands afterwards.

Do cats get jealous of babies?

Some cats will show a marked change of behavior when baby comes home from the hospital. After all baby's arrival will mean a lot of changes in your home, and many cats find change, especially change to their routine, to be stressful.

 new baby
Cats are curious and a new baby may be something they want to investigate.

Your cat may find it difficult to accept the addition of another human being to her household, especially one that demands so much of your attention.

Even the fact that furniture has been rearranged and new things brought into the house, baby's cot etc., could be a trigger for stress to your cat.

If stressed your cat's behavior could change. If it does, be a little patient and remember not to reward bad behavior by giving your cat attention when she, or he, misbehaves. Give your attention when your cat is displaying the behavior that you want.

Many cats though will take the new addition in their stride, perhaps only showing mild curiosity about the new human kitten.

Cats that are indoor/outdoor cats that basically come inside only to scoff their food and to sleep may take no notice at all of baby and spend most time out and away from the hubbub.

Remember that cats and babies have lived in the same homes together for centuries. Babies grow into children and by that time your cat will have long learned to accept your child's place in the household. Cats and children can mean other little problems though.

Cats and Babies - Preparing your cat for baby coming home.

In the run up to a new arrival it is easy to forget to give your cat the attention that she or he normally gets.

Try not to let your cat feel it is being displaced and, even though you have lots extra to do, find time to play with, groom and pet your cat. Remind other family members to give kitty some attention.

On the other hand it is best not to give your cat too much extra attention because kitty will expect you to keep that up when baby is home and you really won't have the time. Again others can help out when baby is with you, by giving kitty the attention that you can't, that way both cats and babies can be kept happy.

A new baby in the house will mean many new sounds that may be unfamiliar to your cat.

How will kitty react to crying, squeals and gurgles? If you can, play recordings of baby noises when your cat is around, you may be able to tape the sound of a friend's baby.

ginger cat faceTry not to let your cat feel it is being displaced and, even though you have lots extra to do, find time to play with your cat.

Start off playing the recording at fairly low volume.

Your cat may at first act a little perturbed at the sound of a baby yelling, but with luck will start to settle, when she or he does, reward kitty with petting or a healthy treat.

Then you can start to increase the volume as your cat learns to cope. By the time your real baby is home, baby sounds will be of no concern to your cat.

Lots of new smells will also arrive with your new baby. Smell is very important to cats; it's a major way of communicating. So let your feline become a little familiar with baby powders and lotions by wearing them yourself.

Pet your cat and let her sniff at you, she will then be more likely to develop pleasant associations with the new smells.

Still on the subject of smells. Whilst mom and newborn are still at the hospital, have somebody take home a towel or piece of clothing that has baby's scent on it. If allowed to sniff at the towel or clothing your cat will be familiar with the scent when baby comes home.

Long before baby is due deal with any flea problem your cat may have. Most feline fleas cannot in fact live on humans, including babies, but they can and do bite, and can cause nasty skin irritations.

Use a flea-control preparation that is safe for use in a home with a baby. You will have to read labels fine print for this information so be sure to take your glasses or a magnifying glass with you.  If there is any sign of worms see your veterinarian about de-worming.

With a little preparation cats and babies can get on fine from the word go. 

When your baby is old enough to sit up and crawl around on the floor, you will need to supervise when the cat is present.  This is to protect the baby from being scratched and your kitty from being hurt.  Babies do not know not to pull on a cat's hair or tail and they may squeeze the cat too hard.  When they are old enough you can teach them how to be gentle with the cat.

Related Pages

> > Cats And Babies

Cat Psychology : Listen to your cat.
Cat psychology should help us recognize that when a cat misbehaves she is often only trying to tell us something. Perhaps we should listen.