Preparing Your Furbaby for Your Newborn Baby

You have a cuddly kitty at home, a bouncing baby on the way and you’re afraid the two won’t mix. You have absolutely nothing to fear and there’s no reason for you to surrender your cat. There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the cat-baby dynamic, but you can put your mind at ease with a few small steps to ensure everyone in your growing family will be happy and healthy.

Baby & Cat Sleeping

Photo Credit: http://cats.org.uk/

First off, let’s dismiss the ludicrous ol’ tale that cats will suck the air of a newborn child’s lungs. It’s complete poppycock and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

There’s also the misguided notion that a cat will fall asleep on top of a baby in the crib and suffocate it. While there’s never been a substantiated case of this taking place, you shouldn’t let kitty in with the baby during the night. Luckily, it’s easy to keep the two apart. Cats.org.uk has some great tips, including simply keeping the door closed while your (human) bundle of joy is sleeping and keep tabs on him or her with a baby monitor, or installing a screen door. If closing the door isn’t an option, buy at tent or netting to go over the crib.

In addition, you should always supervise any interaction between your cat and baby. A flailing baby may startle your investigative cat and while the likely reaction is for your feline to flee, make sure you keep those claws cut to be 100 percent safe (and please, don’t declaw).

The other concern many parents-to-be have is Toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by parasites that are sometimes found in cats and can be passed to human via feces. According to healthychildren.org, illness from Toxoplasmosis is uncommon in children and adults, but it can result in serious problems if a pregnant woman passes the parasite to her unborn foetus. An expectant mother should take proper precautions: wear gloves when doing the cat litter and gardening – or, even better, use it as an excuse to get your partner or kids to do those dirty chores for you!

 Of course, you’ll want to make sure to keep kitty’s life as calm as possible after the addition of a baby to your home. The key here is early preparation. The ASPCA and Humane Society of the United States suggest these steps in order to get your cat ready:

  • If you haven’t already, and you should have, spay or neuter your cat
  • Set up the nursery early and let your cat investigate. Once they’ve had the full run of the room, put dissuasive elements – pie plates, aluminium foil, cardboard with two-sided tape (cats hate sticky surfaces) – on the furniture, like the crib, dresser and change table, you don’t want the cat to get comfortable on. Alternatively, if you don’t want your cat in the nursery at all, get that door shut right away so kitty knows it’s off limits
  • Have a friend come over with a baby and/or play a recording or baby noises and crying so the cat gets used to the sounds the baby will bring
  • Wear lotions and oils that you will put on the baby so the cat gets used to new smells
  • Move, slowly, the litter box to its new location
  • And make any adjustments to new routines: if partner or child will be taking over for nail cutting, grooming or play, make that transition nice and early so the cat knows where to look for attention when mom is preoccupied with the baby
  • Increase the frequency of nail cutting so the cat is used to the practice after baby arrives

For further information or tips on getting your home ready, consult your veterinarian or paediatrician.

 

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