Cats deal with a new baby very well, normally. There is no need to be anxious. Once again I’m reliant upon the excellent and wise ladies of the mumsnet.com website to lead me on this topic. I have read all the comments and thoughts and a clear picture has emerged. Pregnant mothers need not worry about their cat companion harming their newborn baby or toddler (and vice versa). It will work out fine with some sensible precautions. And it is probably sensible – and, any case, it happens naturally – that some proactive steps are taken to introduce your cat to the changes that will take place.
- Is baby food safe for cats?
- Get a cat to stop maternal stress being passed on to unborn babies
- Cat peeing because of new dog, new cat, or new baby
The biggest factor in all of this is that there will be change in the household and we know that domestic cats like their routine so changes affect them. Getting your cat used to the new accoutrements of being a parent can help to introduce a cat to these changes which should smooth the way to when the baby is born and becomes a toddler. Buy the baby stuff and let your cat get used to them. They will enjoy it and think you are buying the products for them.
For mothers who are risk-averse, you can buy a baby net for the cot which stops cats getting into the cot. Although one mother said that her cat liked to sleep on top of the baby net which meant that it sank down onto the baby! The cat liked the baby that much. My impression is that domestic cats like babies. It’s the scent that emanates from them.
Supervision is important, obviously. In any new contact between domestic cat and baby, the interaction should be supervised. Supervision should take place as long as it is deemed necessary. You can’t take risks. Although all the evidence points to domestic cats getting along very nicely with babies. As mentioned, they like the scent of a baby and often you will see domestic cats cuddling up to babies.
There is an advantage to babies being close to domestic cats in terms of developing a better immune system to allergies. It is good to expose babies to allergens to help them build a robust and balanced immune system to prevent over and under reactions. An over reactive immune system causes allergies in the person. Research indicates that babies develop better reactions to allergens and pathogens if they’ve spent time in contact with a pet.
As a baby grows up and becomes a toddler the interactions between toddler and cat can be more problematic for both parties. For example, the toddler might pull the cat’s tail which might provoke a reaction which in turn may harm the toddler. This is down to supervision and preventing these sorts of interactions going wrong. Although, once again, the stories on mumsnet.com indicates that both toddler and cat find a way to interact which is amenable to both of them.
It seemed that the new relationship between the new tiny human and the resident cat requires adjustments but it settles down quite quickly and a new harmony enters the home after these adjustments are made.
In conclusion, my distinct feeling is that pregnant mothers and mothers-to-be should not be overly concerned about their domestic cat getting on with a newborn. There is a fear about this but the signs are that it works out very well and is beneficial ultimately to both cat and baby. Mothers should not get rid of their cat, that is the general advice.
There is one caveat which concerns the dreaded topic of toxoplasmosis. Some pregnant mums-to-be believe that they should get rid of their cat to avoid a transmission of toxoplasmosis from their cat to them (from faeces in the cat litter tray) which could harm their baby before being born. This is a difficult topic but once again there is no need to abandon the cat. You simply take precautions which are sensible. I have a full page on this which is highly factual and based on good research and which you can read by clicking here and here.