Babies and Cats

Babies and Cats article:

Sit down with the baby, and allow the cat to inspect him. Unlike dogs, cats may not want to sniff the baby right away.

A Happy Family

After baby is home, be sure to give your pet extra attention so he will not feel neglected. If ignored too long, he will act naughty to receive any attention from you (in much the same manner that older siblings often do).

It’s not a good idea to leave your pet and baby together unsupervised. Even though they may seem to get along, it’s best to be completely sure they “play nice” — for your baby’s sake and for your pet’s. So shut the baby’s bedroom door, or install a gate or screen door. Use a room monitor for extra protection.

Catty Remarks

According to Dr. Votaw, there is usually almost no trouble when introducing a cat to a baby. Yet old wives’ tales abound. The most common one is that cats suck the breath out of babies, because they smell milk on their mouth.

“This is false,” says Dr. Votaw, adding that more realistic reasons a cat may want to be close to a baby are “because it is curious and [because] it wants to get warm.”

Since cats are jumpers, crib rails are no obstacle for them. Place a screen or taut netting over the crib to keep the cat from sleeping with the baby. (Remove the screen once the baby is able to reach it.)

Be aware that a cat might scratch or urinate on baby’s belongings. This behavior in a cat can symbolize a number of things — affection, a sense of possessiveness, or aggression.

In any case spraying is a habit you want to discourage; if you have this problem with your cat, keep him out of baby’s room. When you must reprimand your cat, experts recommend spraying him with water from a plant mister or clapping your hands and shouting, “No!”

Keep the cat’s litter box out of children’s reach; a number of infections can be contracted from animal waste. If the litter box is kept behind a closed door, and the cat is shown where it is, he will quickly learn ways to let you know he needs to use it.

Cat dander is the most common cause of pet allergies. To reduce allergic reactions and the spread of germs, wash your child’s hands after she pets an animal. Bathing the animal weekly may reduce allergic reactions. If you have an older cat who doesn’t take well to baths, brush-on products to reduce dander are available. If your baby often has a runny nose, or if allergies are common in your family, you might want to have her checked for a pet allergy.

Cats do not like loud noises, such as crying; rapid movements, such as baby’s sometimes jerky limb movements; or the rough handling that toddlers are capable of. A toddler can learn to live peacefully with a cat. Mary Jo Mersol-Barg, a cat breeder in Michigan and the mother of three children, says, “Parents must be role models. Show the child how to gently stroke the cat.” Make sure the child knows not to antagonize a cat, pat him sharply on the head, or hold him against his will.

Your cat may hide when the atmosphere gets too loud or wild; even if everyone knows where his hiding place is, teach your child to leave the cat alone when he’s retreated there.