Cat and New Baby
Today, shelters are still visited by depressed mothers-to-be who have been persuaded by well-meaning relatives or old-school obstetricians that having a cat endangers their unborn child’s health and well-being. Don’t believe these urban legends. Knowing the facts will assist you in determining how to safeguard both the cat and new baby.
Prior to Childbirth…
Toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease, may be a pregnant catkeeper’s worst fear. Miscarriage, stillbirth, or birth defects such as blindness, deafness, hydrocephalus, or epilepsy are possible outcomes. Because cats can become infected with the parasite by eating small mammals or birds, it is critical to keep your cat indoors. Befriending stray animals right now is not a good idea because they may already be infected.
Infected animals emit toxoplasmosis cysts. Because cats frequently use gardens as litter boxes, wear gloves when gardening, cleaning fresh vegetables and fruits, handling raw meat, or scrubbing food prep surfaces. You should also avoid rubbing your eyes until your hands are completely clean. Also, do not feed your cat raw or undercooked meat. Scoop feces at least twice a day to prevent cysts discharged in the feces from becoming contagious. Even better, use your “sensitive state” to encourage your friend to deal with the dirt detail.
Some cats, like little old maids, are resistant to change. Because these are the cats most likely to be influenced by a new baby, prepare them gradually throughout the pregnancy. Play baby noise recordings or use baby lotion on your hands before engaging in a pleasurable pastime with your cat to acclimate him to the new sounds he’s about to hear. This will help him build positive associations with baby fragrances.
Set up the nursery furniture as soon as possible, and give him several weeks to inspect before declaring things off limits, such as the changing table and crib, so he knows there’s nothing bad here. But don’t make it so comfortable that he wants to sleep on it. Make the surfaces unappealing at least a month before the baby is due. Cut cardboard sheets to the measurements of the furniture surfaces and apply double-sided adhesive/masking tape to one side. Cats loathe sticky surfaces, and he should be able to avoid them by the end of the month.
If the litter box was kept in the soon-to-be nursery, move it a few inches per day to its new location several months in advance. If you make the change too quickly, your cat may return to his former location. A solid object covering that area, such as a diaper pail or dresser, may deter him.
Finally, any cat care behaviors that will be passed down from new mother to mate after the child is born should be changed one to two months before the child is born. Examples include feeding, grooming, play activities, and sleep partners/locations. The cat will be unaffected by the change if they were always shared activities. Otherwise, the cat will need time to adjust to the new caregiver’s approach and skills.
And Following Childbirth
When you first arrive home from the hospital, greet your cat softly and unobtrusively. After you’ve had a few moments to bond, let everyone else in: mate, baby, grandparents, baby nurse, and any well-wishers. Unless your cat is especially social, he will flee and hide. When things have settled down, he’ll return on tiptoe.
Put an old receiving blanket or infant-wear item somewhere quiet where the cat can inspect it. A heat-seeking cat that likes to cuddle up close to the baby’s face may make breathing difficult. If he follows you into the nursery at naptime, make sure he doesn’t leap into the crib.
While the myth that cats suck the air out of babies’ lungs is false, a baby cannot turn over or even move her head at first. Allow the cat to approach and investigate while softly breastfeeding. Close the nursery door when the baby is napping. If there is no door to lock, install a makeshift screen door or place mosquito netting over the crib to keep the cat out. These safeguards also prevent the cat from urinating in the crib, which he may do if he is angry.
Now that the baby is sound sleeping, it’s time to have a cat nap with your favorite feline.
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