View Full Version : cats and babies

04-14-2009, 06:49 PM
I've been asked to write a piece for my pets column about cats and new babies.

I'm looking for some folks to interview who brought a new baby home to a house with cats, preferably fairly recently, like maybe the last year or so. What were you worried about, what did you do that seemed to help with your worries? There's a bunch of typical advice floating round the internet and such - did you do any of those things? Did anything seem particularly helpful or particularly bogus? Were there different problems than you expected? Did you have relatives and friends who suggested the cat was a danger? Was it really no big deal after all?

If you are willing to be interviewed, and quoted by name and home town, PM me. Comments in this thread are welcome too.

So you know where I am coming from - I have cats, but no babies, so I don't really have a clue what might be an issue - I assume you don't want the baby to get scratched, or to get into the litter box once it's ambulatory, but otherwise, babies are a species with which I am unfamiliar, so please enlighten me.


04-14-2009, 07:13 PM
This isn't recent, but hopefully worth it.

I've always had cats. When our daughter was on the way the doctor suggested testing me for Toxoplasmosis - just in case. The test was positive. Toxoplasmosis can cause serious birth defects. Consequently when our daughter was born there were all kinds of extra medical staff on call - just in case. She was fine but had to have a blood test for it also. Her test was positive. The doctors figured she had picked up anti-bodies from me. Very scary. The word to the wise is - pregnant women should avoid cleaning out litter boxes.

We had no trouble with our multiple cats when we brought our daughter home or thereafter. She loved them and they loved her. Puma

04-14-2009, 07:49 PM
wombat -

I've had cats all my life. My son isn't a new born but I had absolutely no fear bringing him home.

My cats had no interest in him at all. Maybe because they had each other and had almost free access to the out of doors. A lone cat in an apartment - may have been a different story.

Cats have distinct personalities just like people do. My cats were never raised to behave as cats; we treated them just like furry people. When I finally did get two cats that acted like cats - I was amazed. They've been with me for two years now and they are starting to act like people.

My cats never tried to get in the playpen, never tried to get in the crib but my husband and I were always around.

My caveat to anyone bringing home a new baby is - know your cat.

Watch your cat for the first few weeks. See how interested he may be in the first place. Don't leave your newborn alone in a far away room. Keep your baby close to you awake or sleeping. It's better for you and better for the baby.

Ask any questions you like. Hope you get more answers.


Soccer Mom
04-14-2009, 11:03 PM
My experience (the most recent) is 8yrs old so I don't know how much that helps, but I never had any problems with bringing home any of my kids. My cats were uniformly terrified of the small screaming things I brought home.

And when the kids were ambulatory, I blocked off the room with litter box with a babygate. The cats could easily jump it.

I did have one cat who always wanted to cuddle with me when I was nursing a baby. I'm not sure if it was jealousy or if Meg just wanted in on the snuggle time. I wouldn't let her in my lap, but compromised by putting a pillow against one hip so she could have just a bit of the cuddling. It seemed to satisfy her.

04-15-2009, 12:54 AM
SO funny! I am 13 weeks pregnant and was just searching around and reading about cats and babies! I have three cats, and for right now my hubby does the big litter box change, and when I just scoop the poop I make sure to wear rubber gloves.

My male cat has become tons more affectionate and protective of me now that I am pregnant; it's noticeable and not just a little bit weird, but in a good way.

04-15-2009, 01:13 AM
When I brought my daughter home from the hospital, my grandmother was sure that our cat would smell the milk on her breath and smother her in bed. I guess that's an old wive's tale that she insisted was true. Never happened or came close to happening.
Mostly, our cat ignored the baby, but one time, when she was about seven months old, I was on the bed and my daughter was sitting next to me. She had only just learned to sit up, so she had her hands up by her head in that way babies have, and my cat, for no reason that I can figure out, sat beside her on the bed, and out of the blue, just started batting my daughter's face with her paw, doing it really fast. Luckily, the cat is declawed so no damage was done, but I have to say I did toss the cat off the bed so fast I think it made her head spin. My daughter is now 8 years old, and the cat loves to sleep on her bed at night, so I guess she's accepted her now. :-)

Also, after that incident, we had a puppy in the house, and the cat did the same thing with her, so I think it's a dominance thing.

04-15-2009, 03:44 AM
I've had cats when bringing home each of my three kids, and the cats didn't seem to mind them. One cat did like to sleep in the crib because it was a soft elevated place where humans didn't sit. This drove me nuts because I didn't want grody cat fur all over the crib sheets, but never caused a problem.

Studies have actually shown that having pets around infants and toddlers makes them LESS likely to develop pet dander allergies later on.

Lucy Joseph
04-15-2009, 04:11 AM
My son is only 1 1/2, but due to a complicated/boring set of circumstances, he didn't meet our cats until he was almost 1. They were interested, but of course he tried to grab them, so they ran off.

Issues to worry about- not many I can think of. He did try to eat the cat food once and obviously we keep him away from the litter. My grandma used to tell my mom that her cat was going to jump in the crib and smother me. It never happened, though the cat never seemed to forgive me for being born. They can get jealous.

Our cats don't seem to mind the baby, though, as long as he doesn't pull out their fur.

Kathie Freeman
04-23-2009, 08:07 PM
Toxoplasmosis is only a problem if the mother receives her first exposure during the pregnancy, otherwise no big deal.

04-23-2009, 10:02 PM
Toxoplasmosis is only a problem if the mother receives her first exposure during the pregnancy, otherwise no big deal.

Kathie is brilliant! Few obstetricians know this fact.

04-23-2009, 10:18 PM
No kids of my own, but siblings. The cat didn't really bother about them terribly. She stayed out of the nursery mostly, though sometimes she wanted to investigate the movements and noise in the crib. I think our biggest problem was my (now deceased) grandmother.

She made a big fuss about the cat, and insisted we put the animal down because of an old wives tale about cats stealing the baby's breath. We laughed at her and told her we kept the nursery door closed.

We did have one scary incident though with the cat. She curled up over my sister's face. Not in an attempt to smother, but because she was trying to be affectionate. We just adjusted her sleeping possition, and she got the point. Don't lay down over baby's nose.

04-24-2009, 01:41 PM
Contrary to old wives' tales, cats CANNOT suck a baby's breath. (My sister, a medical doctor, assures me nothing is capable of sucking anything's breath.)

The stories probably got started because cats like to sniff around a baby's mouth because of the smell of milk. They will also lay down on anything warm and a cat may have smothered a baby too small to push it off, or a baby may have died of crib death and they just blamed the cat. That is not even taking into account possible allergies. I'd never leave a cat alone in a room with a baby too small to defend itself--depending on the size and determination of the cat. Also make sure the cat isn't out picking up fleas and ringworm and stuff you don't want kids to get.

04-26-2009, 05:23 AM
I have an 11-month-old cat and a two-week-old son. Our vet gave us some papers to read about introducing pets to new babies, but we didn't do any of that stuff. (Mostly it was due to the timing of the baby's arrival since he came a couple weeks earlier than expected and we didn't have a chance to do any of the things the vet suggested.)

Our cat's pretty wild and likes to jump in boxes and baskets and anything else he can jump in, so we were concerned with him jumping in the baby's bassinet. He's jumped in there one or two times while the baby wasn't in the bassinet. While my husband cut out a board the size of the bassinet and put double sided tape on it to discourage the cat from jumping in there, we're not entirely sure how effective that's been at keeping him out. (We lay the cardboard down in the bassinet when we leave the room and the kitty stays in the room by himself.) The closest the cat's come to jumping in the bassinet while the baby's been in it was the couple times when the cat jumped on the chair that's next to the bassinet and put his front legs on the side of the bassinet to look inside.

Also while I've been trying to feed our little guy, the cat will come up to me looking for attention. He's wanted me to scratch his ears, throw his ball for him to fetch, and nibbled at my toes while I've held the baby, but he hasn't done anything besides sniff the baby (so far at least).

I know the question was asking about cats, but I've had some problems with my dog too. She's almost a two-and-a-half-year-old Pomeranian that craves attention. So the most problems we've had with her is that when she really wants attention she paw at our arm and doesn't care if we're holding the baby or not. She'll also sit in my lap while I'm holding the baby. Mostly, she's just jealous that we give our new son more attention than we give her. Other than that, we haven't had any problems with her either.


04-26-2009, 06:20 AM
Kittens & young cats might be prone to slapping at baby's eyes or eyelashes.

I think the milk on the breath thing is probably correct too (they're there because of the smell), but I also would not leave any animal alone in a room with a baby.

My son was a bit older (5 or 6) and our housecat would sometimes get on his chest at night to sleep. He said he couldn't breathe. Imagine what that would do with an infant.