Just like human siblings, cats and babies can be best of friends. Sure, there might be occasional disagreements or arguments (like over who gets the remote, because cats watching TV is a thiiiing in case you hadn’t noticed) as they grow. But with a bit of help from the parents, their bond will grow too.
You’ll end up with a cat who loves their little human and a little human who loves animals. Win!
However, if you’ll soon be bringing a new baby home (or have just had one) it’s important to know what risks you should be aware of and how you can plan to keep everyone happy while you nurture that kid-cat connection.
Safety considerations for cats and babies
When it comes keeping cats and babies safe from one another, there are a few things you need to know. Not only will you need to ensure your cat still feels loved and appreciated, there are physical and health risks too.
For the sake of both cats and babies, read on.
Toxoplasmosis from cats
Pregnant mums need to watch out for contracting toxoplasmosis, which can cause learning problems in your child.
What exactly is toxoplasmosis? Basically, cats can carry a common parasite that causes toxoplasmosis and this is found in cat faeces and contaminated food. It’s mostly harmless, but can be serious for pregnant women and for people who are immune compromised.
You’re only likely to contract the parasite if you come into contact with your cat’s poop – like when you clean the litter tray. So if you’re pregnant, you should either delegate the task to someone else (much to their delight, we’re sure) or use disposable gloves you throw away afterwards.
So while you can catch toxoplasmosis from your cat, it’s quite easy to avoid with a couple of minor adjustments. Phew.
Stress and anxiety problems
We know you love your pets. Adore them, even. But when a new baby arrives, it’s natural that they’ll have to take priority.
Unfortunately, your cat doesn’t understand this. All of a sudden, they’ve been relegated to the back seat and are likely to feel anxious, unsettled, and stressed out. They haven’t had nine months to prepare or think about the adjustments that need to be made. But even with those extra nine months, the parents are often a bundle of anxiety and frustration too, what with sleep deprivation and pregnancy hormones running wild.
The end result? A home which can sometimes feel foreign and tense.
For cats and babies to coexist peacefully, you’ll need to make sure they both know they’re loved. It might not feel like the most important thing in the world, but be sure to give your cat plenty of attention and playtime. And try to keep their routine fairly consistent both pre and post baby. It will help provide a sense of familiarity in an otherwise quite different world!
And remember, your cat should always have an area they can “get away from it all”. That may be a high perch, a separate room, or even just a bed or crate in a quiet corner. When they’re there, leave them be and let them decompress. And teach your child to do the same as they grow up!
Other de-stress treatments for cats
Its best to try and put some plans in place to reassure your cat and minimise their stress before they start to struggle with the change. There are a few things you can try.
For instance, pheromone sprays can help to reduce your pet’s stress by mimicking the pheromones a mother cat would produce. And as someone with a baby, you’ll know that having the feeling of mum around you can be reassuring for any baby!
If your cat is stressed or anxious, you can also consult your vet. They may recommend a calming medication for the short term while your cat (and you!) adjust to having a baby in the home. Or they may have other helpful suggestions to reduce the impact on your cat.
Risks for cats and babies
Cats and babies snuggling up or playing together can be adorable – however it can also be dangerous,… Especially when your baby is very young and unable to roll away or move the cat. It may be considered being “over protective” by some, but we’d always rather be safe than sorry.
Cuddling cats and babies look cute for Instagram, but if you leave them unsupervised it could be a recipe for disaster. No matter how well-meaning the cat, if it creeps into a cot or pram wanting to snuggle and accidentally blocks the baby’s airways, there’s a risk for suffocation.
And as you know, cats are pretty good at jumping or climbing things. It’s best to keep the door closed when your baby is in their cot, and ensure you’ve a good baby monitor. There are also cat nets you can safely cover the cot with – perhaps give this a try too, as added protection.
Again, don’t leave them unattended together. Supervised cuddles are the only cuddles that should happen.
Bites, scratches, or aggression (from cats AND babies)
Another problem is the lack of understanding between cats and babies. While you know adults will likely exhibit certain behaviour around pets, it’s hard to tell with babies and children. That’s why teaching kids and dogs to understand one another’s boundaries is so important. The same goes for cats.
Your baby might excitedly reach out and grab your cat’s tail or poke them in the eye, for instance. If your cat’s anything less than saintly (or even if they are!) it could result in a hiss, growl, bite, or scratch.
And it goes both ways. While your baby will be your first priority, keep in mind your baby or toddler could accidentally harm them. They could squeeze them too hard, feed them something that can poison pets, or even encourage play with toys that aren’t cat-friendly.
Again, the best way to avoid confrontation is to make sure you’re always around during interactions between cats and babies. As both of them grow together, you can teach them how to interact safely.
Cat insurance for extra safety
Cats and babies are all part of the family. And just like you’d take your child to the doctor without a second thought, the same should go for pets. If you have pet insurance, you don’t have to worry about paying big amounts of money for veterinary attention for scratches, breaks, illnesses, accidents, and more.
Time to get a cat insurance quote?