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When I was pregnant with my little one, people started making comments about the fact that I had pets. Questions were asked about what I was going to do with my cats? Was I going to keep them? Did I trust them around my new baby? I hadn’t really thought about it much before, so I decided to find out the truth about cats and babies.
The Truth About Cats and Babies
My cats were 9 years old when I was pregnant, and I’d had them since they were 1. They were rescue cats, a semi-feral brother and sister pair that hid for the first 6 months that they lived with me. They are still very skittish, and hide whenever we have visitors. But I also considered them to be like my family. I was actually more worried about how they were going to react to a new baby!
I hadn’t even really thought that they could be a problem to my child. My only real worry was that my brother has a real allergy to pet hair, which he has had since being very small. What if this was a genetic trait and my baby also suffered with this allergy?
And then some family and patients starting asking whether I should be keeping my animals? I decided to look further into why they were so concerned.
As I expected, a google search provided some real horror stories of babies being suffocated by cats and pets attacking the new baby. But I looked beyond these headlines and realised that there was no real problem. As long as some simple precautions were taken.
Whilst pregnant, I kept my cats indoors. This is not difficult, as they are so timid they tend not to go out much anyway. This stopped my cats possibly coming into contact with harmful bacteria and parasites that they could pass on to us. At the same time we made sure that their vaccinations were up to date.
My other half took over the horrible task of cleaning out the cat litter. Cat faeces can contain the parasite Toxoplasmosis, which is very harmful to the unborn baby. We also made sure to keep all the food preparation surfaces impeccable. Again luckily my cats aren’t the types to jump onto the kitchen surfaces, though they do jump onto the dining table.
A few months into the pregnancy, we started to play some baby noises in front of the cats to get them used to the possible noises that they were about to encounter. My partner decorated and put up the nursery furniture 3 months before baby was due to get the cats used to the smells. But then we closed that room off to the cats completely.
As the due date came closer, I did reduce the amount of time I spent cuddling the cats. This got them used to the fact that they were going to be petted less once the baby arrived. At the same time, as it was Christmas and New Year, there were lots of fireworks that my cats are scared of. So I plugged in a Feliway diffuser which would help with their stress.
When Baby Arrived Home
That first couple of hours when you get home with your new baby are surreal anyway. But we kept the cats away for as long as we could.
To be honest, they acted slightly interested at first, but then quickly shied away as soon as the baby cried. They were more scared of the baby to be interested!
We always made sure that the cot and napping baby was well out of reach. We always made sure that surfaces were clean and that we washed our hands after petting the cats.
And really until the last few months the cats have just learned to stay away from our little one. However, our 2 year old now loves the cats to come and sit near her. She is learning to stroke them nicely and has even starting to give them their meals. I think having pets is a brilliant experience for a child. I wouldn’t have my household any other way. The truth about cats and babies? They can learn to live together well. As long as we remember some very basic rules.
The Truth about Cats and Babies? Some Rules.
- Keep your cats indoors if possible, so that they cannot catch any parasites from vermin or birds that they may pass to you.
- Do not touch the cat litter, or stroke strange cats.
- Ensure your cat’s vaccinations and worming is up to date.
- Try and acclimatise your cats to the thought of a new baby in the house, with recordings of babies crying. If you have particularly nervous cats consider the use of a Feliway diffuser.
- Put up the nursery furniture a couple of months before the baby is born and so that the cats can get used got the different smells, but seal the cats off from that room.
When Baby Comes Home
- Do ensure that the moses basket, cot and bedroom are out of reach to your cats. Keep the door shut to the room where the baby is sleeping (make sure that the cat isn’t locked in there first!).
- Stop your cat from jumping onto areas such as the changing table or food preparation areas. Do clean these areas well before using them just in case.
- Always wash your hands after feeding or petting your cats.
- Never leave your baby unattended with the cat. Most scratches happen because the baby has grasped a cat too tightly or caught it by surprise. Never let your cat lick your baby – or the other way round!
- Some cats love to sniff soiled nappies, so do dispose of these carefully.
- Some cats love to chew fleecy and wooden items, so watch out for babies blankets going missing into the cats bed.
So, I hope that I have reassured you with the things that I have learnt of the truth about cats and babies. How do your cats and babies get on?
Ever wondered what to buy a cat for Christmas? Find Joy and Leo’s top recommendations here!
Enjoyed this? Why not read about how my little one ended up with a broken leg?