You don’t have to get rid of your cat when you have a baby. Seriously. Whether your baby is still in utero or here in your arms, your cat can still be an active part of your life.
When people hear you’re pregnant or have a newborn, they will be quick to tell you to get rid of your cat because cats carry diseases, they will still your baby’s breath, they will scratch your baby, and they will do things out of spite because you are focusing your love and attention elsewhere. "They" sure do know a lot, don’t they? Old wives’ tales are those pesky little things that never seem to go away, despite the number of generations passed or the new and improved medical research. Maybe if we educate the expectant mothers, new moms, and young children now, we can finally put some of these myths to rest.
Here are four popular myths about cats and babies, debunked:
Look, we all carry diseases, okay? One inch of your skin is probably crawling with enough bacteria to grow a tiny jungle in a petri dish, and that’s only an inch. If cats were so gross, why hasn’t Angie Bailey or her son died yet and why are you reading about cats on this super cool site? Cats, like any other animal, can carry and transmit diseases, but so long as your cat is healthy and up to date on necessary vaccinations, you have nothing to worry about. Even the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis is minimal, so long as you practice good hygiene. You’re much more likely to catch something from undercooked meats and improperly handled foods than your kitty!
Your cat is not the least bit interested in your baby’s oxygen. Cats are, however, interested in smelling the newcomer, and may be attracted to milk residue around your baby’s mouth. Cats also like to snuggle, and little babies are warm snuggle bunnies. It is highly unlikely that a cat will suffocate your baby by sniffing or snuggling, but it’s safest to not let the cat in the crib at all or in the room with the baby when you can’t supervise.
Does your cat scratch you? If you said no, then your cat isn’t likely to scratch your baby, either. Little babies can’t exactly provoke a cat. A toddler, on the other hand, may pull kitty’s tail or ears, leading to a scratch. Start teaching your child early on that you shouldn’t pester the cat, including pulling tails and picking up or hugging the cat.
Wow. These old wives’ people sure didn’t have a high opinion of cats, did they? If your cat’s behavior changes, it is more likely due to stress brought on by change rather than jealousy. You and your home is your cat’s entire world, and a baby brings on a lot of new things. There are new smells, sounds, objects, and schedules, all of which can contribute to changes in your cat’s behavior. Try to introduce changes slowly, and always leave a special space for your cat that is "safe" from all the hustle and bustle of your growing household.
When it comes to cats, forget the old wives’ tales. Every cat is different, but they’re all much more likely to become your child’s best friend than their mortal enemy. Growing up with cats can also help children learn respect and compassion for animals, a virtue certainly worth having.
Have you shared your life with a baby and a cat at the same time? How did it go? Tell us your stories in the comments!
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About Meghan Lodge: Fits the Aquarius definition to a fault, loves animals, and is always pushing for change. Loves ink, whether it’s in tattoos, books, or writing on that pretty sheet of blank paper. Proud parent of Toby (cat) and Axle (dog). I’m a former quiet nerd who’s turned bubbly animal-obsessed advocate.