Since pretty much the beginning of time, cats have gotten a bad rap — reputed to be evil and to harm sleeping babies "by stealing their breath." Yikes. Any cat owner (including this one) will tell you that despite their tendency to knock things off tables, cats are pretty damn awesome. I personally think cats can be great pets for new parents. I have, however, wondered how to keep my cat out of my child's crib, because seriously I think she sleeps in there more than my baby does. Thankfully, and according to experts, there are things parents can do to help keep their baby safe (and their cat from claiming their crib for their own).
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recommends via their website that parents keep their cat out of not only the baby's crib, but the baby's room entirely. ASPCA goes on to recommend parents simply shut the door to the nursery (and/or their own room if they're co-sleeping) or install a screen door. This is especially important when your baby is sleeping, as it will keep them safe from harm if your cat decides to cozy up to them for some warmth and shameless snuggle time.
Maris and Signe Munkevics, a cat behavioralist and veterinarian, offer some alternative strategies as well. According to their website pet-happy.com, while you can choose to keep your cat out of your baby's nursery entirely, a better option, that will actually create less stress for your cat, is to add a cat tree or cat bed on the opposite side of the nursery. That way your cat and your baby can nap comfortably in the same room, but without putting either of them in harm's way.
Pet-happy.com also recommends motion-activated cat deterrents, such as an ultrasonic sound emitter, which will make a sound (not audible to humans) when your cat comes near the crib. If you choose to go this route, the site suggests setting it up in advance of your baby coming home, so there is time to "train" your cat that the crib is not a cozy place to nap.
According to Pam Johnson-Bennett, cat behavior expert and owner of Cat Behavior Associates, parents should focus on preparing their home in advance of the "big day," also known as labor and delivery, so their human baby and their purr baby can learn how to safely and happily co-exist. According to Johnson-Bennet's website, you should create cat-free spaces for your baby, and kid-free spaces for your cat. She offers parents a low-tech solution to train their cat to not jump into the crib by filling the crib with empty soda cans or bottles a few weeks before their baby arrives. After jumping in a few times, their cat will likely start to think that the crib is not a comfy place for napping, and probably won't try jumping in again, even after the loud items are replaced by a new baby.
With a little preparation it may actually be possible to keep your cat out of your baby's crib, which should make your baby, and you, rest a bit easier.