I am definitely a cat person, so imagine my surprise when people told me cats and babies don’t get along. My pregnancy felt like a continual refrain of people telling me all the reasons why babies mean the cat has to go. I must have heard that Aristotle von Pussenhausen (he’s fancy) would have to go at least once a week!
I’ve never been very good at listening to advice so I never did get rid of my pussycat pal and I’m so glad I didn’t. Ari has been obsessed with Bear since the day we brought him home. He used to lie on the top of my breastfeeding chair while the baby fed, they did tummy time together, and now Bear is a toddler Ari frequently gets fed sausages under the table and pulled around the house in a wagon like a furry Sultan.
It’s crazy how much misinformation is out there about kitty cats and babies, so let’s bust some myths shall we?
Mythbusting Cats and Babies
MYTH 1: Cats steal babies breath
I can’t believe this one is still so pervasive in modern society. I must have heard this once a week while I was pregnant. It’s a logical fallacy like thunder souring milk – in medieval times SIDS was not understood and cats were considered evil, so when a baby died with seemingly no explanation, they blamed the cat. While cats will not suck your child’s breath out like some kind of oxygen vampire, they do like to get up close and personal when they snuggle so it’s still best not to let a cat sleep with a baby unattended.
MYTH 2: Flea bites can kill newborns
Nope nope nope. Not even a little bit true. While fleas aren’t fantastic for newborns, the worst that will happen is your child may get a bit of a rash. To treat it, obviously flea treat your pets and house, and pop some aloe vera cream on your baby.
MYTH 3: Cats see a crying baby as prey
Seriously? Who comes up with this stuff? A cat will climb into a crib with a crying baby because a) cats are curious b) babies are warm and smell good. As per the previous note, don’t let cats and babies snuggle unsupervised and close the nursery door while bubs is sleeping to minimise the risks.
MYTH 4: Patting cats while pregnant will give you toxoplasmosis
While cats do spread toxoplasmosis, you are more likely to contract it by handling raw meat or digging in the garden than from your cat. As the parasite can’t live in fur, it’s not contractable via cuddles – the only worry is the litter tray. If you can’t cry off emptying the litter tray due to pregnancy, pop on some gloves and change it regularly, making sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards to minimise risks. It’s also less likely to occur with indoor cats that don’t hunt.
Tips To Help Your Cat With The Newborn Transition
Make Changes Early
Our cat always slept on the spare bed in the room that became our nursery. When I was about 4 months pregnant, we shut him out of that room so he knew it was off limits. The earlier these changes are made, the better, otherwise your cat will connect the dots and resent the baby.
Give Them A Lovey
We bought two cheap muslins to swaddle Bear and then we gave them to our pets to cuddle. This let the animals get used to the new scents of a baby in advance so they weren’t as curious when Bear was brought home. Ari nuzzled that blanket like it was catnip for a couple days. Once Bear arrived, he sniffed him and went ‘yes you belong here’ and went on his merry way.
If your cat stresses out about change, chat to your vet about a calming pheremone diffuser. It helps them keep their chill and avoid stress related illnesses.
Make Time For Them
It can be hard to find time for a little pussycat after the baby comes I know. Still it’s important to give them some solo attention for just a couple minutes a day. Letting them know they are still important after baby comes home is vital for their physical and emotional health.
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