In the pet world, cats have a bad reputation for being prickly, headstrong, and capricious with their affections – not to mention being quick to deal unexpected lashes with their razor-sharp claws. In other words, not exactly newborn friendly.
But even if your cat is a docile, loving, purring machine, getting your sweet, innocent, totally inept newborn home from the hospital to meet his older, wiser, feline sibling can be nerve-wracking.
Fortunately, with a little preparation and expertise, your fur baby and human baby can live happily together (or at least tolerate each other).
Unless you’re the proud owner of a hassle-free goldfish, having a pet with young children comes with some responsibility. Just by being there, your cat poses a slight threat to your baby, although it’s not something you can’t avoid once you know what to look for.
Suffocating or choking
There used to be an urban legend about cats who stole babies’ breath right out of their mouth, which didn’t really help the “Cats and Babies Living Together” PR campaign. Of course that’s not true, but your cat puts your baby at risk of suffocation if you let them sleep close together.
This is easy to fix: make sure your cat stays away from the baby while he sleeps or dozes, whether it’s a crib, bassinet, swing, or booster seat. That could mean:
- Supervise your baby while they sleep (which you should always do when they’re not in the crib or bassinet anyway)
- Keep the door closed to every room your baby sleeps in
- Put up baby gates to prevent your cat from entering these rooms without you knowing
Yes, this is a real problem – but you are probably already doing everything you can to prevent toxoplasmosis during pregnancy.
Pregnant women and young children are similarly prone to this infection. Toxoplasmosis infections in children can cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, body pain, and swollen glands.
To keep your baby healthy:
- Keep your cat indoors and away from outdoor cats or stray cats
- Do not allow your child to touch (or eat!) Cat litter
- Wash your hands or wear gloves when changing the litter box
- Avoid feeding your cat raw meat as this will increase your cat’s risk of contracting the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis
Ingesting cat hair
Living with shed animals means you have hair everywhere, sometimes in your mouth. Yes, it’s gross, but for the most part it can’t really hurt anyone.
Naturally, if your child intentionally eats cat hair, they may ingest enough to create a blockage in their GI tract (hello, hairball), but this will not happen from occasional cat hair on the baby. flat-rate type of intake.
In theory, if your child is very allergic to cat hair, ingesting it could cause a reaction. Realistically, however, you would likely know if your baby is allergic to cats by the time they are old enough to put cat hair in their own mouth. (Also, some research suggests that infants raised with pets in the house may be at lower risk of allergies.)
Feline intestinal diseases
Technically, any diseases – viral, bacterial, or parasitic – that your cat has in their bladder or GI system can be passed on to the rest of the family if good hygiene is not practiced. Again, this is easy to avoid:
- Keep the baby out of Kitty’s litter box
- Immediately clear up all animal contaminants
- Wash your hands after changing your cat’s litter or routinely grooming your cat
Cats get just as jealous as the rest of us (where do you think the term “catfight” comes from?), And it is possible that your cat may show signs of aggression towards your baby because of this.
Signs of jealousy in cats range from excessive meowing to destructive behavior, including urine marking.
To reduce resentment:
- Try to keep part of your cat’s normal routine after your baby gets home
- Don’t toss them out of their favorite spots around the house to make room for baby items
- Be ready to be patient with rebellious behavior, not punishment
Scratches and bites
Cats are less of a physical threat to children than dogs when it comes to baring their teeth or claws. But they can still do enough damage to cause cosmetic damage or introduce a skin infection (like a ringworm) if the scratches are deep enough.
If you always monitor your cat’s interactions with your baby, serious injuries are unlikely to occur.
No! There is often strong social pressures on parents-to-be to say goodbye to their beloved kitten before a baby is accepted into the family, either to protect the baby or to provide the cat with a happier home. (Let’s face it: it’s true that the cat might not be thrilled to be demoted from star to support gamer at first.)
However, if you keep safety in mind and find ways to respect your cat and baby’s boundaries, you can all live happily.
Preparation is very important in any good strategy where big things are going to change. Since you may not know exactly when your baby will arrive, try removing these tasks from the list a few months before your due date.
- Accustom your cat to life with a newborn baby. A new baby means new smells and sounds that your cat may be sensitive to. To get your cat used to the new stimuli in advance:
- Play recorded sounds of babies crying
- Turn on electronic devices (like baby swings) for a few minutes each day
- Wear lotions or creams that you plan to use on your baby
- Put up stress-relieving toys. Cats love scratching posts for many reasons, not least because scratching is a great trigger for stress and boredom. If you have something your cat is allowed to scratch, they can scratch things they shouldn’t.
- Prepare surfaces for babies only with tape. For your baby’s safety, it is important that your cat does not have the habit of sleeping only in baby areas such as the crib and changing table. Cats don’t like sticky surfaces; You can put double-sided tape around your baby’s crib and changing table to help your cat learn to steer clearly.
- Change the role of the caregiver. If your cat has always been your cat and you have done most of its day-to-day grooming, it is wise to turn some of these chores off to your partner now (if possible). That way, your cat won’t feel like you reject them after your baby arrives (or, worse, blame your baby for the sudden change).
Once your baby is born, it is important that your home is safe and comfortable for your baby and cat. Here are some things to do during the first weeks and months after bringing your baby home from the hospital.
- First introduce your cat to your baby through smell. If possible, send your partner home from the hospital with a reception blanket that your baby used to help your cat get used to the smell of your baby. Leave the blanket in a cat friendly room and let your cat smell it on her own terms. When you get home with your baby, your cat’s smell should be known.
- Play with your cat for a few minutes without a baby. When you first come home from the hospital, go into the house yourself before you come in with your baby (if you have someone to keep the baby outside). Your cat has probably missed you and will want your attention; It will be easier for you to do this without a baby in your arms, and your cat will be able to bask in the warmth of your affection for a few minutes without feeling like it is competing with the baby.
- Give your cat a safe haven (alone). Newborns can be overstimulating to adults. Imagine how intense the lonely cat experience is! Make sure your cat has some “cat-only” areas in your home, free of baby items and away from the chaos. You may also want to provide a spot or two that are off the ground, as cats tend to feel more secure when they are high up.
- Don’t neglect your cat’s basic hygiene needs or playtime. You won’t have much time to groom, treat, and hunt laser pointers in the newborn days, but you also can’t completely ignore your cat’s needs. Even if you can only commit to a 10-minute gaming session instead of a 30-minute one, this is better than nothing. If you really can’t keep up, see if a friend or family member can stop by once a day to manage your cat’s basic care until things settle down.
Cats and babies can live together safely, although they cannot do so without your help. As with any good mediator, you need to make peace between your “children” and give both your baby and kitten the tools necessary to live together successfully.
Remember to always monitor the game time between humans and animals and never leave your cat alone with your baby.