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Cats and babies

cats and babies
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Safety First

The arrival of a new baby in the home can be unsettling for any pets you have.  Cats in particular are very independent creatures, which value their territory and guard it closely.  Still, the arrival of a new member of the family does not mean that you need to wave goodbye to your pets.The topic of  cats and babies has to be  handled sensitively, babies and cats can live happily alongside each other, and having a cat as a pet can help your growing child to learn how to respect and care for animals appropriately.

Before Your Baby Arrives

Expectant mothers need to be aware of a bug called Toxoplasmosis.  This nasty parasite can infect your cat when it eats small mammals or birds.  Whilst it does little harm to your feline friend, if a pregnant woman contracts toxoplasmosis it can trigger miscarriage, a range of birth defects or still birth.  The parasite is shed in the faeces of an infected cat, so it makes sense for pregnant women to bow out of cat litter duty for the duration of their pregnancy, and wear gloves when gardening or cleaning vegetables to avoid inadvertent contact with buried cat waste.

If you have a regular care, attention or play routine with your cat, take the time before your baby is born to reduce or adjust that schedule so it will fit in with the demands of your new baby.  This will help prevent your cat feeling pushed out.  Playing tapes of baby noises (including the screaming!) can help acclimatise them too, as can exposure to the new smells of the baby wipes, cream and lotions you are planning to use.

Let Your Cat Get Familiar With The Changes

Setting up furniture in the nursery in advance of your baby arriving will give you cat time to explore.  The best option is to ban your cat from upstairs altogether, but if this is not possible then it is essential that your cat is discouraged from entering the nursery and, above all, the cot.

Making the room and surfaces unwelcoming will deter your cat from venturing in.  Covering the floor, cot, and any surfaces he make jump onto with cardboard laced with sticky masking tape is a great way to show your cat these are not places he wants to be. cats and babies Investing in a cat net or tent to fix above the cot is essential if you are unsure whether your cat has got the message.  Your baby will be warm, and an inviting snuggle-partner for your cat.  This may look cute, but the dangers of suffocation, infection and allergic reaction for your baby are very real.  Never allow your cat to sleep with your baby.

After Your Baby Comes Home

Your cat will be aware you’ve not been around, but won’t know why.  When you first return from hospital take a little time to reconnect with your furry friend without the baby around.  If you can avoid filling the house with too many visitors initially this will help prevent your cat from feeling overwhelmed and invaded too.  When the well-wishers do arrive, your cat is likely to disappear to his safe haven away from all the noise.  Don’t take it personally, as he will be sure to return when things have quietened down.  Give him a bit of special attention when he does, provided he is receptive.

Your cat will be interested in sussing-out the new baby.  Felines make good use of their sense of smell, so to avoid curiosity bringing your cat too near the baby, place one of the baby’s used blankets or baby-grows in a place where the cat can go along and sniff it and get acquainted with the newborn aroma in his own time.

When you are feeding your baby, by bottle or breast, your cat is likely to find this interesting, at least initially.  Allow him to come over and join you, but avoid letting the cat paw or claw at the baby.  Many cats love to “knead” with their paws, an instinct that comes naturally to them as kittens when stimulating milk flow from their mother.  The smell of feeding may spark this again in your cat, and whilst it is not an issue, the claw-flexing that can accompany it can give you and your baby a nasty sharp prick, so it should be discouraged.

In effect, treat your cat as you would treat a child when getting them acquainted with the new baby.  Introduce the baby sensitively, respecting your cat’s own needs.  Set appropriate limits in terms of closeness and touching, and give your cat time to adjust to the change.

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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