Cats and babies… match made in heaven or a dangerous combination?
Fear not, with some planning your newborn and fur baby can become the best of friends. We’re going to answer all of your questions regarding pregnancies, cats and babies.
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Cats and Pregnancy FAQs
Is It Safe to Have a Cat While Pregnant?
Yes! You do not need to rehome your cat due to pregnancy.
The big concern for cat owners is toxoplasmosis which can cause serious problems to your baby during pregnancy including increased chance of miscarriage. Though this parasite is very scary, the risks of contracting toxoplasmosis from your cat are low and you can make them even lower with some simple precautions.
Toxoplasmosis is spread by eating raw and undercooked infected meat, which is where cats get it from birds or rodents and is also the more common way for people to get it too.
Indoor cats are typically low risk for getting toxoplasmosis, assuming you aren’t feeding them undercooked meats.
The infection is spread from your cat in their feces, so if possible get someone else to clean the litter box to minimize your chance of exposure. That’s really the best case scenario because you probably do not want to be scooping the box or anywhere near those smells with your preggo nose anyway.
Can I Change Cat Litter While Pregnant?
If you must clean the litter box while pregnant, wear gloves and wash your hands well with soap immediately after.
Be absolutely sure not to touch near your mouth until your hands have been thoroughly cleaned. Changing the litter daily can also limit exposure.
Can You Get Toxoplasmosis From Breathing In Cat Litter?
No, to become infected you need to ingest it.
By avoiding kitty litter or taking great care to minimize your contact with it, your chances of getting toxoplasmosis from your cat are very low. Further limit your chances of contracting it by ensuring careful handling of raw meats, avoiding undercooked meats, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables, and wearing gloves when gardening.
It’s also possible that you’ve already been exposed to toxoplasmosis. If you’ve previously been infected with toxoplasmosis, you are generally considered immune. Your care provider can perform a blood test to find out if you’ve had it before.
Can Cats Sense Pregnancy?
While no one knows for sure, many cat owners report their feline friend begins to act differently when an individual in the house is pregnant.
However, it’s impossible to say whether cats realize their owner is pregnant or simply that there’s something different about them.
There are a couple of different ways cats can sense changes in a pregnant individual:
- Smell. Hormone fluctuations change how a pregnant person smells. Since cats have about 200 million smell receptors in their nose (compare that to the 5 million found in humans), it stands to reason that they might be able to pick up on those subtle scent changes.
- Behavior. Cats are creatures of habit – they’ll surely notice changes in behavior like fatigue (and the extra naps), nausea/vomiting, setting up a nursery, etc. (Psssst… if you’re struggling with nausea check out 20 Morning Sickness Cures That Are Quick and Easy)
- Hearing. Thanks to that extra little fold on their ears, cats have exemplary hearing. It’s possible they’ll be able hear a little heart beat when they’re snuggling on a warm lap.
All of that being said – while your cat may notice something different, they may not know exactly what it means to be expecting. This is especially true for first pregnancies.
How Do Cats Act When You’re Pregnant?
Just like people – cats are all different. So it stands to reason there is a wide variety of “normal” cat reactions to pregnancy. It can even differ between first, second, and subsequent pregnancies!
For initial pregnancies, it’s common for cats to become more protective and affectionate. This is especially true if you’re experiencing morning sickness or fatigue.
Some cats get clingy, following you around the house and sitting on your lap every time you sit down. This is reportedly more common with second and later pregnancies. By this point they expect what’s going to happen and know that in a few short months you’ll have less time for them.
Unfortunately it’s also common cats will begin to act out when they sense their owner is expectant. Partly because they’re angry, feel neglected, or just want attention. Examples may include peeing around the house, scratching furniture, refusing to eat, and not coming when called.
Cats and Babies: Need to Know Info
Once baby is here, there are a whole new slew of questions revolving around cats and babies. Let’s talk about some of the most common concerns:
Are Cats Safe With Babies?
There is an old wives tale that cats steal the breath from babies. This myth has many parents worried about their cats suffocating their babies.
Though cats don’t actually steal breath, you should use common sense and care with your cat and baby’s interaction.
Will My Cat Hurt My Baby?
Unfortunately it’s possible your cat can hurt your baby. However, being vigilant and using proper precautions can minimize the risk.
Like any other pet, cats and babies should not be left alone together.
Your baby should have a safe sleep environment free of blankets, pillow, toys, and also kitties.
Keeping cats out of the crib is important since newborns can’t even move their head on their own and a cuddly feline friend could inadvertently harm them. Less dangerous, though annoying, is the more likely possibility that your cat wakes up your sleeping baby.
When your baby starts to grab, be careful to make sure they don’t pull the cat’s ears or fur. Cats are easily startled and will defend themselves if threatened.
How Do You Keep the Cat Out of the Crib?
The simplest way is to not allow the cat into the nursery, at least not while your baby is asleep.
Some people are able to train their cats to stay out of the crib either by using sticky tape, tinfoil, scat mats, netting, or loud deterrents before the baby’s arrival. You could also try a motion activated, ultrasonic cat deterrent which emits a sound that you and your baby can’t hear, but your cat won’t like.
If your baby will be sleeping in a room that your cat currently occupies, it may help to find your cat an alternate space a few months before your baby arrives.
Preparing Your Cat for Baby
Cats hate change. Unfortunately for them, adding a new baby to the household is about as big a change as you can get.
Here are some ways to help prepare for the arrival so your cats and babies can be the best of friends:
- Start making changes early. If you’re going to make changes to your cat’s routine, start months before baby is due. Examples may be things like moving the litter box or having someone else feed the cat. If you’re ousting the cat from one of their favorite places (to make room for baby), do it as soon as possible.
- Keep rules consistent. As you are making changes, new rules that will apply after baby is born should be initiated during pregnancy. For example, don’t allow your cat to sleep in the crib before the birth then expect them to avoid it after baby has arrived.
- Get them used to the smells. Open up those baby shampoos, lotions, diaper creams, etc and let your cat smell them. Reward them after they take a big whiff with a treat so they’ll develop positive associations.
- Introduce new sounds. Cats are easily startled and very sensitive to loud noises. Many pet owners find it helpful to play videos of babies crying to prepare their feline friends.
Introducing Cats and Babies
Introducing the new infant to your fur baby is an exciting time! It’s the first time the whole family will be together.
It’s important to keep in mind that cats are peaceful creatures of habit. Adding a baby into the mix is something that will take adjustment so it’s important to approach the transition systematically and calmly.
When you arrive home from the hospital, greet your cat quietly when you are not holding the baby. After a minute or two of attention, place a used baby blanket on the floor for them to smell and investigate.
Eventually you’ll want to introduce your feline to the baby itself. Try to pick a time when the baby is sleeping and calm. After the meeting, be sure to give your cat lots of snuggles and treats so they have positive associations with the experience.
Always remember that even if they appear to be getting along, never leave your cat and baby unsupervised.
Do Cats Get Jealous Of Babies?
Whether it be due to the lack of attention or change in routine, cats can display jealous behaviors when a new baby is introduced to the family.
Some signs of jealousy in cats includes:
- Urinating outside the litter box
- Scratching furniture
- Becoming more clingy
- Knocking over objects
The easiest way to decrease jealous behavior is to simply give your cat more attention. But I know I know, this is way easier said than done when you have a newborn.
Make sure you acknowledge your cat every morning and when you come home from being out.
Try to keep your cat’s routine consistent as much as possible. A predictable schedule reduces feline stress.
You can also try to buy your cat some new toys for entertainment and distraction. Think laser pointers (super easy to play while holding baby!), feather wands, ringing balls, and mice. They also might enjoy a new cat tree to give them a place to hide when baby starts crawling.
And be sure to stock up on treats and catnip to reward good behavior for positive reinforcement.
Do you have a cat? Are you planning on doing anything extra when baby comes? Let us know in the comments below!