Feline Friends – Weighing Up The Risks of Cats around Babies
Cats make brilliant pets, and we know that they can happily co-exist with little ones in the family home, but there are also risks that all parents should take into consideration and take correct safety precautions for.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the potential hazards that could arise, and we’ll tell you how you can mitigate any risks to help keep feline friends living harmoniously with your tiny tot.
It’s good to start taking precautions whilst you’re still pregnant to minimise the potential of any issues and to get your cat used to the idea of a new human in the house. Felines are very perceptive so will pick up on your pregnancy quickly!
- Keep any cats you have inside to prevent them picking up parasites or diseases such as toxoplasmosis. This is picked up when cats eat small mammals and can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and birth defects.
- Always wear gloves when gardening in case neighbourhood cats have used your garden to poo or wee – this can pass on the parasite.
- Avoid cleaning the litter box – someone should take one for the team and do this for you! If you have no choice, use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly. Don’t rub your eyes until your hands are clean!
- Get your kitty used to having a baby around by playing sounds of baby noises, using baby lotion on yourself to get the kitty used to the scent, and allow your kitty to investigate baby items for a few weeks before stopping contact and setting boundaries to ensure the cat knows not to go near. Double sided masking tape is a good way to make these surfaces uncomfortable for a cat and will teach the cat that it’s not theirs.
- If your nursery has been used as a litter box room, you’ll need to slowly transition the litter box out – a quick change may result in accidents! Move it a foot or so a day until it’s transitioned into a better location. Consider putting a large item over the old spot to avoid kitty revisiting for a toileting session…
When Baby Arrives;
When your bundle of joy arrives, your curious cat will want to investigate what’s going on! Here’s how you can keep everyone safe & happy…
- When you arrive home, introduce the baby and cat in a quiet room with no one else disturbing you for a few minutes. Pet your feline friend and give them lots of love to make them feel at ease!
- Cats seek warmth, and a baby is very cosy, so it’s really important to ensure the cat doesn’t have access to the crib, bassinet, and anywhere where baby may sleep whilst you’re asleep as unfortunately cats have been known to cuddle up to baby for warmth and cause suffocation as smaller tots cannot turn their heads effectively. A crib tent is a popular solution!
- Give the cat something that smells of baby in a private area of the house to allow kitty to adjust to the scent of baby.
When Baby is Mobile;
This part is something relevant to me as I terrorised our cat as a toddler and he moved into a neighbours house for a few years as a result! As your baby grows and notices their kitty sibling, they may be prone to pulling tails/fur and getting booped or even clawed by the cat as a result. My nan’s cat LuLu hated me for this, and she fast taught me to stay away from her… Here’s how you can promote harmony between a curious child and your cat.
- From the get go, teach your little ones to use ‘nice hands’ around the kitty and admonish any uncomfortable contact such as tail pulling consistently. Don’t leave kitty and child alone until your child is old enough to demonstrate they know not to harass the cat.
- Show your child the right way to give the kitty positive attention.
- Give the cat lots of affection when the child is around to reinforce that the cat is loved and that they don’t need to be jealous of the child.
- When playing inside, try to promote peace and calmness, as high octane goings on can cause your cat to become erratic and difficult to predict.
- Ensure your cat is given peace and alone time!
- Be careful if your cat scratches or bites your little one as cats can transmit the Bartnonella bacteria causing ‘Cat Scratch Disease’ – this is characterised by swollen lymph nodes, headaches and a fever. Seek medical attention in these instances.
Cats Protection Says…
“Ensure Puss is healthy and vaccinated. De-flea and de-worm him regularly as you don’t want either parasite transferring itself to a baby or child. Children have little concept of hygiene and roundworm infection is actually quite common. There are roundworm remedies available for children and adults from pharmacies, but prevention is preferable. In some countries, flea and tick bites can carry blood parasites that harm cats and humans, so flea and tick treatment is essential.
For every several hundred people who have raised cats and babies side-by-side, or who have grown up with cats, there will be one person who claims horror stories. Try not to take them too seriously, your cat(s) is a loving member of your family, please try and consider their happiness and wellbeing alongside the human members of the family. Cats and children can live in harmony!”
Do you have a cat? How do you promote harmony and safety between kitty and your baby? Tell us in the comments!
Love from Katie. Xx