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Helping Your Cat And Baby Live In 'Purrfect' Harmony

Updated on November 17, 2012

A Cat And Baby Can Coexist

You've heard the myths. Cats suffocate new babies. They get jealous of infants and attack or retaliate by not using their litter boxes. And scariest of all, cats spread disease. In reality, none of the illnesses cats get are transmittable to humans, even infants. And a study by Dennis R. Ownby, M.D., Christine Cole Johnson, Ph.D, and Edward L. Peterson, Ph.D, revealed that exposure to dogs or cats in the first year of life may reduce the risk of allergies during childhood. With some planning and preparation, you can reduce stress, prevent behavior problems and even address possible allergies, so your cat and baby will always live in "purrfect" harmony.

Photo: © Madja | Dreamstime.com

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By Cveleglg at sr.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
By Cveleglg at sr.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons

Before the Baby Arrives

Getting Your Cat Ready For A New Family Member

As you’re preparing for the arrival of the new baby, keep your cat in the loop. Tell him what you’re doing, and talk to him about the baby. While he might not understand every word you say, he will pick up on your thoughts. The Humane Society of the United States suggests using the baby’s name, if you know it.

Here are some other things to do to prepare your cat for the baby’s arrival.

— Arrange for your partner or someone else to scoop the litter boxes so there’s no risk you’ll be exposed to toxoplasmosis.

— Know your cat. A timid cat may be frightened by all the changes that come with the arrival of a new baby. A cat that’s devoted to its humans may want to “help” care for the baby. And an independent cat will probably ignore the newcomer, as long as its life goes on undisturbed, says Sarah Hartwell on the website, Messybeast.com.

— Accustom your cat to having his nails trimmed. Your baby will be less likely to get scratched if the cat’s nails are short. If you’re still concerned about scratches, get the cat used to wearing the plastic nail caps available from pet supply stores.

— If you’re concerned about allergies, start putting a product like Allerpet-C on your cat. Daily combing with a flea or greyhound comb will reduce shedding.

— Make a vet appointment. You want to be sure your cat is free of parasites and is in good health. The cat will need to be in top shape to be able to handle the stress of a new baby.

— Set up the nursery gradually, giving the cat time to get used to each new scent and piece of furniture.

— Rub the powder, lotion and soap you’ll be using for the baby on your hands and arms so the cat can get used to the scents.

— Invite friends with babies to visit or play a recording of a baby crying to help the cat become accustomed to the sounds infants make.

— Make any anticipated changes in the cat’s routine, including spending less time with you, early in your pregnancy. If your cat is used to his new routine, he’ll be less stressed and less likely to have behavior issues when the baby arrives.

Concerned About Allergies? - These Products Provide Relief For People Who Are Allergic To Cats

One of the most common reasons people give for putting a cat up for adoption is an allergic child. If you're concerned that your new baby might be allergic to the cat, start using these products before the baby arrives.

© Sergey Tsepek | Dreamstime.com
© Sergey Tsepek | Dreamstime.com

When the Baby Comes Home

Introducing Your Cat And Baby

When you and the baby arrive at home, have someone else hold the baby for just a few minutes while you greet the cat and lavish him with love and attention. Put a used receiving blanket in a quiet place where the cat can sniff it and mingle its scent with the baby's. And invite the cat to sit on the floor near you when you're nursing or holding the baby. Give the cat some treats so it will associate the baby with a pleasant experience.

Love your cat. Remember, he was your "first born."

Tips

-- Cover the crib with a mesh tent to keep the cat out.

-- Instead of closing the door to the nursery, put up a screen door so the cat can see what's going on and won't feel left out.

Picture Books About Cats

I loved reading these books with my grandchildren when they were little.

Tell us how your cat and baby get along.

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