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Can your cat and baby live together?

Sunday, August 28, 2011Pablo
There is love for everyone
Your baby will fall in love with your cat
Chapas and Triana
So your cat is the king/queen of the house. You think of him as your child and you see yourself as a parent. It is not uncommon for a cat owner to think of him and his cat as having a parent/child relationship. In your conversations you talk about your cat with the same love and pride you’d have for a hypothetical baby. But what happens when the baby is not hypothetical anymore?

Many people will insist that you must give your beloved cat away because of the arrival or your new baby. Those people don’t usually have pets, which should probably make you question the grounds for such a forceful and extreme recommendation. The truth is that in nearly all cases there is no need to take such drastic action and your cat and baby can happily coexist. In fact there are many pros to having your child grow with a pet around him:

  1. It is been shown that children raised with pets are usually more social as adults. 
  2. A study at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit suggests that children who grow up with cats or dogs may be at less risk for developing pet allergies and less susceptible to a list of other allergies.  Despite widespread misconception, having cats around may actually help develop a stronger immune system.
  3. Adding a relationship with a pet to a well-established home life is a significant factor in facilitating cognitive and social development, Kansas State University sociologist Robert Poresky states in Purina ONE’s website

There are a few guidelines to follow in order to make coexistence with a cat safe for your baby:

  1. Make sure your cat’s feeding and water dishes as well as his litter box are our of reach of  your baby.
  2. Don’t ever allow your cat in the crib, even if the baby is not there. If your cat learns the crib is out of bounds you will easily avoid potential accidents. 
  3. Never leave them alone in the first year. With the best of intentions your baby can make a cat feel threatened and he may react by swatting at her. Triana has a few minor cat-scratch scars to prove this point 

Though it may be possible, and even desirable, to have your baby and your cat live in the same house, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy. Depending on their personality and experience, cats will respond in different ways to the arrival of a new baby, but in general they all have to face the same reality; they used to be the king/queen of the house and now there is little prince/princess taking over. Don’t be surprised if your cat exhibits a severe case of jealousy; a lot of his behaviour upon the baby’s arrival can be explained by the fact that he is seeking attention. 

We have received very good advice for facilitating the first encounter between your cat and your baby. 

  1. Place scented towels with the smell of your baby under your cat’s bowl with treats. It will allow your cat to associate your baby with good feelings. 
  2. Let the cat approach the baby in his own time. 
Ultimately the transition will depend on you so your cat does not feel like a second-class citizen. Not unlike a toddler with a new baby sibling you will have to make an effort to give your cat enough attention so he doesn’t become resentful towards the new baby. The fact that your new-born will require most of your time may work against your efforts to help your cat feel like they are an important part of the household.  What may result is that you have little patience left to put up with a cat that is suddenly acting out -- such as scratching couches or screen doors for the first time -- anything to get your attention. Remember that he is only seeking the attention the little furball was used to before the baby arrived. Spending some good quality time with him is all he needs to still feel important. 

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