Cat and Baby Precautions

by Elisa Black-Taylor
(USA)

My daughter Laura and Smokey

My daughter Laura and Smokey

My daughter Laura and Smokey Smokey and a very sleepy Laura

Good morning readers. Today I'd like to address one of the main reasons the family cat is turned into a shelter. A new baby is joining the family and the parents are afraid, mostly from old wives tales, of how well the baby and cat will interact. These are some thoughts about cat and baby precautions.

If new parents will use a little common sense and take a few precautions between the family cat and a new baby, there's no reason everyone can't live happily ever after. Many totally false stories have formed over the years concerning cat behavior and the dangers of a cat being around a new baby. Most are either unfounded or can be avoided.

Pregnancy itself is usually the first excuse to come up to rid the household of the previously loved family cat.

The risk of toxoplasmosis is mentioned by well meaning relatives worried about the health of the mom-to-be. Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that may affect the fetus if the mother is infected while pregnant and usually transmitted through improper litter box cleaning techniques. There are many ways to eliminate the risk, including state-of-the-art litter boxes, surgical gloves, or simply assigning the task to another family member. See more here: Toxoplasmosis and Its Prevention in Cats and People.

These days we know there is a greater chance of contracting toxoplasmosis from eating undercooked or raw meat or unwashed vegetables than from handling cat feces. So pregnant moms, please don't get rid of the cat. It isn't necessary.

The first (and possibly oldest old wives tale) is a cat will lay across a baby and smother it. Some cat haters will swear they personally know an infant who died by a cat doing this. In America we call this an "urban legend." The truth to this more likely involves sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If a baby was found dead and a cat was in the room with the baby, there's a good chance the cat got the blame for the death. SIDS education has advanced tenfold over the past few decades. The old wives tale about baby smothering lives on1.

The "smothering" myth dates back to the 1700's or earlier and even showed up in a few American colonial period court documents. This reference states the myth is false.

Yes, there is a chance that your cat will want to get into the cradle or crib with your new baby and snuggle. Perhaps even lick the milk smell from around baby's mouth. This isn't likely but there is a slight risk. To prevent this, consider purchasing a baby crib safety net. There are many different styles on the market and the easiest way to compare them is to go to your search engine and enter "crib tent" or "baby crib safety net." Not only will these keep your cat out of the crib, but also protect baby and prevent toys from being thrown out of the crib during the night.

One method I came across to keep your cat out of the baby crib involves "conditioning" the cat before the baby arrives. Once the crib is set up, place empty soda cans in the crib so the cat jumps on the cans. Wish I'd known this trick when I was pregnant with my daughter. No harm done to the cat and the cat learns to stay away from the crib because the empty cans create a balance and noise problem for the cat. Another trick is to place double sided tape on the mattress. Cats HATE getting tape on their paws2. Ingenious!

Here are some tips to help your cat adjust before and after the baby arrives.

  1. Tape record a friends baby making different sounds and play this back for your cat so the sounds become familiar.
  2. Rub baby lotion on your hands daily so your cat becomes accustomed to the smell.
  3. Treat your cat for any parasites (including fleas) and make sure a check up is performed and your cat is healthy. A healthy cat is a more content cat.
  4. Allow your cat to investigate the nursery and set which areas are off limit.
  5. Allow your cat to watch you care for the new baby and teach your cat investigation is okay.
  6. As your baby grows, teach your child to respect the cat by following your good example.
  7. Show your cat as much affection as possible to prevent jealousy.

I hope these tips help the expectant moms out there. There's no reason to get rid of your cat. Follow these safety precautions, search the internet to answer cat/baby questions, and give your cat and your new baby the chance to form a life long bond. If family members or a misinformed obstetrician are pressuring you to make a trip to the shelter with your cat, there are plenty of online references backing up all of my information. So don't let anyone make you feel guilty about being a cat lover. Unless your baby has a bleeding disorder or other serious disease where a scratch or bite would be life threatening, please keep your cat.

Pictured above is my daughter Laura and her first cat Smokey. Smokey joined our family when I was six months pregnant and even let me know when I was in labor. As far as I'm concerned, Smokey saved my daughter's life, as I was in labor and didn't know it. Smokey did.

Smokey and Laura quickly became best friends as Laura grew older. This friendship began the day Laura came home from the hospital as a newborn.

Elisa

Notes:

1. http://www.best-cat-art.com/cats-and-babies.html

2. This link was broken and has been removed Oct 2012.

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/cats-and-babies.html

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Cat and Baby Precautions

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Oct 31, 2010
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To anonymous
by: Ruth

You are one wonderful mother to your feline family and will be one wonderful mother to your baby when he/she arrives too.
It's very sad that people try to scare expectant mothers with tales about cats and even sadder when they are believed and the cats are prevented from sharing the happiness of a new baby in their home.
Good luck with the big day. It would be lovely if you come back in the future and tell us what Louie and Layla think of their new 'sibling'

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Oct 30, 2010
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Curious
by: Elisa Black-Taylor

Cats are just curious about what's causing the new noise and smell. Once they sniff the baby a few times and make sure everything is OK they're fine with a baby.


Oct 30, 2010
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Thankyou so much
by: Anonymous

Thanks so much for this article, it was great to read and be reassured about my cats. My cats (are my babies but awaiting the arrival of their human sibling) are the reason why i ended up getting a preg test, because my boy, Louie, was acting weird and obsessed with my tummy! He was right, and i was only 4 weeks! Lots of people keep telling me how they are dangerous and shouldn't be allowed inside now or when the baby comes, but i am relieved to read such good tips about conditioning for when bub comes. As far as i'm concerned, i wouldn't kick my child out if i had another baby, i am not kicking my cats out just because i am having a bub. My female, Layla, is very clucky (desexed) but whenever i babysit, she just follows the little boy around, cries when he cries, and just watches over him. I just can't wait to have my baby grow up with his/her feline siblings 🙂


Oct 29, 2010
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Thank you
by: Elisa Black-Taylor

Thank you for enjoying the article. I'm surprised no one has critisized having a cat. I went for years without a cat and Smokey was my first cat since I was a kid.

I have cat allergies to a new cat. They last 3 days then go away.

And why does everyone critisize being clawed by a cat? Why is this a reason to declaw? I'll NEVER understand this. I've been clawed accidentally on many occasions. It's not the end of the world. You just wash the scratch and treat it. No big deal. Kids run and fall and fall off of bikes and skateboards and everything else and get injuries MUCH worse than a cat scratch.

I can't imagine what growing up without a cat would have been like for my daughter. She was an only child and the cats were her buddies. I vaguely remember her putting one in a dress when she was about 5 years old.

As far as litterbox precautions, we should follow them pregnant or not.


Oct 29, 2010
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Great Cat/Baby article!
by: Gail (Boston, MA USA)

Elisa, As usual you have given us much food for thought and a well-balanced viewpoint on cats living with babies. Thank you so much.

We also grew up with cats, from infancy on. Mom also emptied the litter box while pregnant without a problem. Common sense dictates that the box be scooped at least twice a day and litter replaced at least once per week.

Our cat also snuggled to Mom's belly and when the baby was born, she allowed the cat to sniff the baby. When the baby cried, the cat would run to get Mom. What Mom impressed on all of us was to continually praise the cat, sharing our time/love and making the cat feel comfortable as part of the family even with babies around.


Oct 29, 2010
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Good blog
by: Edward

Man my twin sister and I were born into a household of cats and grew up with them and now have cats of our own.Our mother was sensible and taught us to love and respect cats and to be kind and look after them as they should be.
I dont see how kids can grow up like we did if theyre cossetted and protected and no wonder theres so many with allergies now and not much immune system.
Our mother would say a peck of dirt hurt nobody.
And dont get me started on declawing man,kids need to grow up in the real world where cats have claws or theyre in for a shock when they do get out there and everything isnt how they think.
Ed


Oct 28, 2010
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Cat and Baby Precautions
by: Debra Rosier

Excellent article as usual!! All parents need is a little common sense. I have had cats all my life. I had them when I was pregnant and continued to have them all the way up to now. My daughter is now a 28 year old "cat lady" herself. By the way she has a himalayan named "Diva". My granddaughter (who is one year old) loves Diva. And I think Diva will become her best friend! The only one in danger is Diva. Carley tries to catch her fuzzy tail. (We are teaching Carley to treat Diva with love and respect). Don't throw away these precious babies. You would be surprised to know how well they understand and adapt to the newest members of their families!!!!!


Oct 28, 2010
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Thank you Ruth
by: Elisa Black-Taylor

Always feel free to add to my articles. I've been accused of rambling more than once. I also do this in the real world. I tend to stay on one track and let the readers add comments that may branch out into other areas of a subject.

My daughter is now a 27 year old cat lady. She's surprised Michael allowed the older photos of her to remain on the story but it proves the point of the story.

I walked in on that picture one morning. Laura had gotten up by herself. I think she was 3 or 4 in the pictures. And Smokey had settled in her lap with her holding her.

This picture would never have been possible if I'd given Smokey away when I was pregnant.

One morning I got dizzy when I was close to my due date. I'd reached down to pick up Smokey and felt sick. I told my mama about it and she made me call my doctor. It turned out I'd been leaking amniotic fluid for 8 hours and had no pain but was technically entering a serious situation.

Smokey saved us both. I delivered Laura 14 hours later after it was decided to induce hard labor.


Oct 28, 2010
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have had a cat with every child
by: ruhappytoseeme

Im a 43 year old mom of 3, grandmother of one and have had cats during each pregnancy and all thru their lives, and now with my granddaughter visiting (shes 3) I have 2 cats (one a very old, deaf, toothless stray we brought in, with a bad heart, half a ear and shes around 16 yrs old!!! yea her name should be lucky haha)and I have never had any problems with cats or dogs around children. Never have any cats tried to get in the crib with the babys and they have all loved my kids and grandchild. I always tell my children that they will not hurt babies but you always should be present if they are in the same room (toddlers also).
great article oh and btw I had to always change the litter and was never warned about that problem but none of my children got infected.


Oct 28, 2010
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Cat babies and real babies
by: CJ

It's dreadful how many cats are the baby until the "real" baby comes along and then the poor things are shoved aside or got rid of if they show any jealousy.
Like Ruth says some get them declawed too,then they play happy families with the new baby while the cat is suffering and eventually chuck the cat out or have it killed.
In my opinion any cat doomed to be treated that way would be better off rehomed.


Oct 28, 2010
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A very important addition
by: Ruth

Elisa, I hope you don't mind my addition to your article.
Many expectant mothers mistakenly think or to be told that the family cat needs to be declawed before the baby arrives.
This is the worst thing you can do !
To put a cat through the agony and shock of the amputation of his toe ends and expect him to adjust to living a disabled life as well as accepting the new baby is very unreasonable and cruel.
As well as this cruelty to the cat it puts the baby at risk too. Many declawed cats develop litterbox avoidance because of the pain in their stumps. Having a cat messing on the carpet or soft furnishings when a baby is around is definately a health risk to the baby. Many declawed cats start biting because their temperament changes as their first defence has gone and they know it. A cat bite is far more painful and serious than a warning scratch when a crawling baby or a toddler starts taking an interest in the cat and hasn't yet learned to be gentle.
It's up to the parents to closely supervise the child and the cat, never leaving them alone together until the child is old enough to respect and treat the cat kindly.
It's very important to consider the child and the cat too and to make time for the pet while the baby is sleeping.
The photos of Laura and Smokey show just what a wonderful bond can grow between them if the welfare and happiness of both are carefully taken into account.

Kattaddorra signature Ruth


Oct 28, 2010
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great article !
by: sharon collette

Very well done and informative article a must for every pregnant cat loving woman out there !!.


Oct 28, 2010
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No problems with cats
by: Stephen Hambrick

Great information ! When my kids were babies I had three cats,never experienced any problems,of course the cats were curious about the babies,but never exhibited any behavior that endangered them.


Oct 28, 2010
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Cat and Baby Precautions
by: Meowwie

Excellently done. Very thorough and informative.

I have had cats when Ive had babies, and had no problems at all.
As you mentioned, old wives tales usually prevail, and the family cat is thrown out like old trash when a new baby is on the horizon.

Very glad to see this story.
Terrific !



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