Cats and newborns will cover:
1) Safety questions
2) Steps to take before and after your baby arrives home
3) Debunk wives tales - Will a cat hurt a baby or do cats smother babies?
4) Introducing a cat to a new baby
Some of the old wives tales regarding cats and newborns are still alive and well in certain circles. Hopefully, we can clear up the miss-information and give you the facts you need.
The question is will a cat hurt a baby? The answer is no but you need to be educated about bringing home a newborn with a kitty or kitties at home.
You do not have to give up your cat/cats when you find out you are pregnant even though some well-meaning family members might suggest it.
Safety questions (Litterbox)
We do suggest that you have your husband or a friend take care of the litter box chores to reduce any risk of toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that can be caused by eating undercooked contaminated meat, mother to child transmission during pregnancy or exposure to infected cat feces.
Cats can get it from eating birds or rodents so keeping your cat indoors keeps you and kitty safer from this parasite.
The main concern with the parasite is stillbirth, miscarriage or epilepsy so it’s better not to take in any strays at this time.
Do not get rid of kitty because of litter concerns, just have someone else take care of litter duty.
If the litter box is in the room the nursery will eventually become, move it to a new location several months ahead of time. You can move it a little at a time over several month periods.
Steps to take before and after your baby arrives home
1) Play tapes of baby noises to get them used to the new sounds.
2) Set up nursery furniture as early as possible. This gives them a chance to investigate well before you let them know what areas are off limits.
They come to understand there is nothing here to be afraid of. Cats and newborns are competing for the same soft spaces. Do not make these areas comfortable for kitty. We do not want the kitties to get used to sleeping there. We want them to investigate and then determine that it is not an area they want to use and there is nothing scary about it.
You can do this by putting cardboard cut to size in these areas that will eventually be off limits (changing table/crib) and putting two-sided tape on the cardboard (cats do not like sticky surfaces). After a while, kitty will steer clear of these areas.
3) Put baby lotion on your hands and then rub them or play with them so they associate baby lotion with good times.
4) Transfer current kitty routines from you to your husband or partner months in advance of bringing the new baby home. For example; playtime, grooming, and feeding. If these activities are currently shared, it won’t be as big of an adjustment.
Once you are home with the new baby, you can get back into a routine that suits the new schedule.
A cat’s fleas will seriously hurt a newborn
False. Dr. Huntington, DVM of Suffield Veterinary Hospital states that you need to treat your cat for fleas before your newborn arrives and continue a treatment after they arrive. This is pretty easy with the new flea options available. Worst case scenario, your newborn will get a rash as a result of a flea infestation.
Crying infants cause cats to get violent
False. Constant crying will cause mom and dad to be anxious and so pets can be anxious too. With that said, cats are not vindictive and will not try to silence a crying baby. A cat may climb up to the crib because they are curious as to this sound or concerned about it. When a cat does climb into a crib it’s probably looking for warmth because babies are like little heaters.
Do cats smother babies
False. This is a well-documented myth. According to the experts, cat’s may be drawn to the scent of milk on a baby’s lips but they are not looking to suck the breath from your child. If you have a kitten, they may seem determined to stay close to the new baby. That’s normal because kittens like to seek out heat and cuddle with a baby.
NOTE: You must keep your kitten or cat out of your baby’s crib. A heat-seeking kitten may want to cuddle close to your baby’s face and newborns are not able to move their head or turn over making it hard to breathe. You can either close the door completely using a baby monitor. If you do not have a door, set up a temporary screen door or a crib tent.
Introducing a cat to a new baby
When you first get home, meet with your kitty in a quiet room alone (living room/family room). After a few moments to connect with your kitty, let in the rest of the family including the new baby. Unless your cat is extremely social, your cat will probably high tail it out of the room because of all the activity. After a while, he/she will make an appearance once it has quieted down a little.
Take a piece of your newborns' clothing or blanket and place it in an area where kitty can check it out. If you are going to nurse, let kitty approach and investigate.
It’s an integration process like everything you do with your new baby. With a new baby, there’s a lot of new experiences and education and your kitties can be a part of these new experiences too. So yes, cats and newborns can live happy and healthy lives together!