Contrary to a prevailing popular belief, your baby and your cat don't have to be mortal enemies the moment they meet. And while there's more than a few horrifying stories about cats and babies living together, there are just as many (if not more!) cute stories about cats and babies becoming BFFs. So, sure, there might be some truth to the old wives tales about cats and babies but, for the most part, parents should feel free to ignore them in favor of, you know, science.
According to the 2016 BBC2 documentary featuring Dr. Paul Zak, titled Cats v. Dogs, dogs actually love their humans more than cats. But, again, that doesn't mean your feline friend and squishy newborn won't live in harmony. In fact, Anthea Appel, an animal naturopath in New York City, tells Care.com that, "Contrary to popular belief, cats really like human companionship." And Dr. Jane Brunt, a feline specialist and member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, tells the same site that cats can help your child learn how to practice good social skills, including how to approach a pet and speak calmly and in a soothing voice.
Still, cats have some pretty intense and ongoing myths to contend with, especially when it comes to their relationships with babies. From supposedly "stealing a baby's breath" to hating babies entirely, here are just a few old wives' tales that are hurting the connection between felines and their tiny human friends:
You Have To Re-Home Your Cat Immediately
You don't have to get rid of your cat as soon as you find out your pregnant. Instead, you might just have to defer all kitty litter box responsibilities to a partner or support person, due to the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, toxoplasmosis is an "infection with the Toxoplasma gondii parasite," and can be caused by "eating undercooked contaminated meat, exposure from infected cat feces, or mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy." So, to play it safe, by all means have someone else deal with your cat's droppings, but there's no need to get rid of your cat entirely.
Cats Will Suck The Breath From A Baby's Mouth
According to Live Science, there's a commonly held belief that cats suffocate babies by sucking the breath out of them. The website Catster laughs this myth off, stating that while cats may be drawn to lingering scent of milk of baby's lips, they're not looking to "steal" their breath or suffocate your child. And if you have a kitten and they seem hellbent on staying close to your newborn, know that it's normal for a new cat to seek out heat.
It is important, however, to keep your cat out of your baby's crib. Adding some cat furniture to baby's room, closing the room entirely, using a baby monitor, and using an ultrasonic cat deterrent can help keep some distance from your feeling and their sleepy friend.
Crying Babies Make Cats Do Dangerous Things
A baby's constant cry can make calm adults anxious, so it makes sense for pets to grow uneasy, too. One old wive's tale, however, says that cats climb into a baby's crib in order to hurt them and silence the source of the sound. This simply isn't true. The site Petful dispels this myth by noting that your cat might be concerned or curious (perhaps even worried), but they're not vindictive. In fact, if they climb in the crib while your baby is crying they're, again, probably just looking for warmth.
Cats Hate Babies
Kristyn Savage of Beyond the Dog, LLC tells Her Life Magazine that if your cat is socialized and your baby is taught how to treat animals, they make "excellent pets for children." Why? Well, according to Savage cats are typically "less intimidating for a little one." If you prepare you cat well in advance — by setting up baby's room, playing sounds of a baby crying, and even letting them sniff your baby's things when you're home from the hospital — you're helping initiate contact and establish a potential bond. The ASPCA even suggests rubbing your hands with baby lotion before petting your cat, so they get used to the baby's smells (which they'll associate with a positive experience).
A Cat's Fleas Will Kill A Baby
Dr. Ann L. Huntington, DVM, of Suffield Veterinary Hospital, tells Petful you should make sure your cat is treated for fleas before you bring the baby home, and continue that treatment after they arrive. But, at the worst, your baby will simply develop a rash as a result of a flea infestation.
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