Cats often get a bad name, especially once Halloween time comes. Right next to black cats being bad luck when they cross your path, one of the most common beliefs about cats is that they take the breath from your little one. But do cats really suck the breath out of your baby? It's a pressing question to have answered if you're planning to bring a new baby into the home.
According to Live Science, a cat could potentially suffocate a sleeping baby by cozying up too close to his face. But the site shared it’s highly unlikely a cat would smother an infant on purpose. Although this isn't quite the same as cats sucking the breath from your little one, which definitely seems a little creepier, many people believe that's how the myth originated. Luckily, cats don't come up with schemes to suck the breath from your baby.
Although it seems worrisome this idea has so much traction, reports of cats causing infant deaths are few and far between. So there's really no need to worry. Yes, again, it's a myth. It turns out the story behind the myth shares that cats get jealous of newborn babies and so they attempt to suffocate them, according to ArcaMax. Or another explanation is that cats are drawn by the smell of milk on a baby's breath. The truth is, however, that there's no bearing to either of these claims.
Cats are actually lactose intolerant, according to the aforementioned ArcaMax article. Thus, any draw due to milk is mostly nixed, and murderous intent due to jealousy is simply a nonissue. Although cats can definitely exhibit signs of jealousy, according to Pet Helpful, those signs are instead shown through things like anger, fighting, potty accidents, aloofness, and loud or demanding behavior.
So luckily, if you're a cat person and have a babe in the house, you don't need to worry about your cat conspiring against you. Although, it's still important to keep safety in mind when it comes to watching your cat, or any pet, around a new baby. Make sure they're not laying together unmonitored because accidents can still happen. This is especially important because babies shouldn't sleep with any soft objects up until they're at least 12 months old, according to Baby Center. And although cats are conscious (and not just an inanimate object), that doesn't mean they'll understand why or when they need to move on their own.
Additionally, there are steps you can take to prepare your cat to meet your newborn, according to WebMD. Some cats may be put off by a new presence, so if you want to prepare a cat who doesn't do well with change, play tapes of baby noises and use baby lotions or soaps to get your cat used to new smells during your pregnancy. It's also smart to make sure the litter box is transitioned elsewhere long before baby comes if it needs to be relocated. This way there's not more than one major change at once. As minimal change as possible when you're bringing something as major as a new life into the home is always best when it comes to pets. Just like people, it's also comforting for cats to maintain some sense of normalcy and comfort.
In the end, there are definitely steps you should take when it comes to introducing a cat to a baby — plus safety precautions moving forward. But worrying about your cat purposefully sucking the breath from your baby is not a factor you need to plan for at all. It's simply a spooky myth you can disprove next time someone brings it up.
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