Is It Safe to Have Cats Around Babies? The Biggest Feline Myths Debunked

There are bound to be some couples that consider their cat a child. But when those pairs add an actual child to the mix, they may be wondering if it is safe to keep your feline friend around. There are lots of opinions when it comes to cats and babies. Some support it, while others are completely against the idea of the two ever co-habitating. But when it comes down to it, what is the truth? Is it safe to have cats around babies?

To get right to the point, the short answer is yes, it is safe to own a cat if you’re expecting a baby or already have one. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, this may not be the best time to take in strays, but it owning a cat is generally safe, with the exception of a few rare scenarios.

The biggest concern, the ASPCA says, is the risk of being exposed to toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection often found in cats who have had contact with infected birds or rodents. This infection can have serious consequences like miscarriage or birth defects, but is, luckily, very uncommon and preventable. The easiest way to contract toxomplasmosis, they say, is by handling infected cat feces or eating raw or undercooked meat. The ASPCA also cautions pregnant women against bringing in strays or changing the cat’s litter box because, while most people’s immune system is able to fight off this infection, a pregnant woman’s may not. And it’s also best to err on the side of caution. So for the time being, use pregnancy as an excuse to pass is dreaded chore on to someone else.

If you already have a little one in the home, the answer is pretty much the same. Cats are notoriously clean animals, and so preventing contact with your child is probably not necessary.

Once your child is mobile, though, it’s important to teach them how to safely handle animals. Even though your cat may be the most gentle feline out there, there is always the chance he may scratch or bite if frightened. Showing your baby the correct ways to pet and hold your cat will likely save you, and your baby, the trouble of any other kitty-related woes.