Even while we know that cats and infants may coexist peacefully in the same household, there are still steps that new or expectant parents should take to protect both the baby and the feline.
Preparing for the Birth of Your Child
- Keep your cats inside and avoid befriending neighboring cats if you’re expecting! A cat can get the parasite illness toxoplasmosis by eating small animals or birds. In a pregnant woman, this parasite can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth abnormalities such as blindness, deafness, hydrocephalus, or epilepsy. Infected animals discharge toxoplasmosis cysts in their feces. Because cats frequently use gardens as litter boxes, gardening gloves should always be worn. When washing raw vegetables and fruits, handling raw meat, or cleaning food prep surfaces, use gloves, and don’t wipe your eyes until your hands are clean. It’s also advisable not to serve or eat raw or undercooked meat to your cat. Scoop feces at least twice a day to keep any cysts that are passed in the feces from becoming contagious.
- Change is difficult for some cats. Because these are the cats that are most likely to be impacted by a new baby, you should gradually prepare them throughout the pregnancy. To build good associations with baby smells, play recordings of baby noises to acclimatize your cat to the new sounds she’ll be hearing, or apply baby lotion on your hands before engaging in a pleasurable activity with your cat. Set up nursery furnishings as soon as possible, and give your cat several weeks to investigate before deciding which surfaces, such as the changing table and cot, are off bounds. Make the surfaces unwelcoming at least one month before the baby comes. Cut cardboard sheets to the size of the furniture surfaces and apply double-sided adhesive/masking tape to one side. Cats prefer to avoid sticky surfaces, and by the end of the month, they should have figured out how to avoid them.
- If the litter box has been kept in the soon-to-be nursery, begin moving it a few inches every day to its new position many months ahead of time. Your cat may return to dirt in his former area if the transfer is done too fast. Covering the area with a substantial object, such as a diaper pail or a dresser, maybe enough to keep him away.
- Finally, any cat care routines that will be transferred from one parent to the other once the baby is born should be swapped one to two months before the due date. Feedings, grooming, play activities, and sleep places are just a few examples. The cat may require some time to acclimatize to the new caregiver’s personality and abilities.
When Your Baby Arrives at Your House
When you initially go home from the hospital, welcome your cat calmly and without interference in a quiet room. Allow everyone else in—partner, baby, grandparents, baby nurse, and other well-wishers—after you’ve had a few minutes to reconnect.
Place an old receiving blanket or infant-wear item in a quiet location for the cat to examine. Make sure the cat isn’t allowed in the crib or any other infant sleeping areas. Because a newborn can’t roll over or even move her head at first, a heat-seeking cat cuddling up close to the baby’s face may make it difficult for the infant to breathe.
When the infant is sleeping, close the nursery door. If there isn’t a door, build a temporary screen door or cover the crib with a crib tent to keep the cat out. These measures also keep the cat from peeing in the crib, which she could do if she’s feeling very agitated.
Now that the baby is safe and sound, it’s the ideal moment for a catnap with your favorite kitty.