Letting a cat roam free around a baby is seen by many as a disaster waiting to happen… But it’s nothing some preparation and supervision can’t solve! Cats and babies can peacefully co-exist because (prepare to be shocked)… cats don’t care about babies! ? At least not in the aggressive or jealously manner we tend to think of. Felines only care about their strict schedules, their habits, their territory and their petting time. Things that will undeniably be disrupted by the arrival of a new baby and will give place to some ruffles… unless you prepare for it. Get ready!
How cats react to babies
In general, cats have no particular interest in babies. Their reaction depends on their personality and their level of preparation for the changes to come.
Most cats will act curious towards the new little human in the house. They may try to take a good sniff of the baby and even rub their noses on their faces to mark the new housemate as theirs.
Others, however, may get stressful, anxious and aggressive. Their reaction has more to do with routine changes than with the baby himself. Cats are creatures of habits – they have their territory set and they like life to go according to plan, every day. The arrival of a new baby disrupts these habits, leaving the cat feeling anxious, scared or protective of their old ways. ?
How to introduce cats and babies
The key to introduce cats and babies peacefully is starting preparations early.
A new baby comes with new sounds and smells to felines. Play baby sounds around the house in the months prior to delivery so your cat can recognise them. ? Rub some baby lotion or other baby products on your hands before petting the cat so they also get used to the new odors about to come.
More importantly, change Mr. Whiskers’ habits and surroundings as soon as possible. Plan the baby arrival ahead and set new times and places for feeding, grooming, sleeping and playing. ? Likewise, prepare the nursery room early, if possible. This way, the cat will have time to adjust to their new surroundings and schedule, and the baby arrival won’t be as distressful.
When you first come home with the baby, greet the cats alone, in a quiet room. Bring a blanket or other fabric worn by the baby with you and set it on the floor. Let the cats sniff around and get to know their new housemate’s scent. Once they are used to it, cats and babies should be no issue. Once you finally let the cats out to meet everyone, they will likely just curiously check the baby to see what the fuss is about and match the scent they previously sniffed to its source!
A peaceful and lovely coexistence between cats and babies should be celebrated! Praise your felines when they behave well with infants, to create a positive association. ?
Is it safe?
Despite all the old-wives’ tales going around, it is safe to have cats and babies interacting. Provided you take precautions and always supervise their encounters, obviously! ?
Don’t let the cats around babies when they are napping, as felines may try to snuggle and relax in the cozy crib. Although the stories of cats sucking babies’ breath are myths, they can still smother the infant if they lie on their faces or keep their coats too close to their mouths and noses. Also, if cats are stressed, they may try to pee on cribs (the perceived source of their distress), which can give the baby a rash.
Keep your cat’s health in check and make sure they don’t have any fleas. ? Cats are unlikely to scratch babies but, as a precaution, trim their claws or use plastic claw covers to prevent them from doing it (even if inadvertently).
Understanding your cat’s tail and body movements is also important to predict their moods, and to know when you should keep cats and babies apart.
Not only can cats and babies co-exist peacefully, they can create unique memories that will mark the infants for all their lives. We all have a childhood pet that still remains in our hearts and brings a smile to our faces, after all these years. Don’t deprive your babies from those lovely mementos and bonds. Just keep an eye on the sneaky felines, ensure everyone’s well-being and health (pets included) and enjoy your lovely family! ? ? ?