We all know that cats and babies make for adorable photographs, and as these precious images suggest, most cats are in fact very tolerant of children. Find out how to ensure your two littlest family members become happy and safe playmates.
There is a lot of varied information out there when it comes to cats and babies, newborns in particular. Sadly, much of it errs too far on the side of caution, persuading many parents-to-be to put their much loved cats up for adoption. While most cats are very tolerant of children, there are certainly precautions anyone with a baby must take around a cat.
How to keep your baby safe before they’re even born:
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that cats can carry if they eat prey that is already infected with the parasite. While it is a risk for foetuses, a woman is more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from handling raw meat than from her cat. To mitigate risk, try keeping your cat indoors, change their litter tray frequently (twice a day), and when you do so, ensure you wear disposable gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.
Preparing your cat for change:
A lot of cats struggle with change, so a new baby can be a challenge for them if they aren’t ready. Use your pregnancy to slowly prepare them. Here are a few things you can try:
- Set up your baby’s nursery as soon as possible to give your curious cat ample time to explore and familiarise themselves with the new furniture.
- At least a month before your baby is due, assert that some of the nursery – the crib for instance – is off limits by making it unappealing to your cat. Be sure to remove it in time for your baby’s arrival.
- Rub baby moisturiser on your hands before playing with your cat so that they get used to the smell and associate it with something enjoyable.
- Make sure you spend some one-on-one time with your cat when you arrive home from hospital
- Place something with your baby’s scent on it, like a blanket, in a quiet area where your cat can investigate it.
- Allow your cat to approach you and your baby in its own time. Ensure you are around to moderate any inappropriate behaviour.
- Never leave your cat alone with your baby.
- As there is no real necessity for a cat to go into a baby’s room, you may consider just keeping the nursery off-limits and the door closed.
Keeping your baby and your cat safe:
- Close the door to the nursery when your baby is napping, or if there is no door purchase a net to put over the crib.
- Ensure litter trays and food bowls are kept in an area the baby can’t access.
- Keep up-to-date with your cat’s flea, tick and worming
- Make sure any products you use on your cat are also safe for your baby.
- Keep cat toys away from babies, as these can be a health and/or safety hazard for them.
- Monitor your cat and baby’s play time. Teach your baby how to treat your pet with kindness and respect.
- Trim your cat’s claws regularly
If proper safety precautions are taken, your baby will grow up to have a lasting bond and friendship with your feline.
If you need some tips on what to do once your baby starts to crawl around the house, read Greencross Vet’s How to toddler proof your pet.