Babies are undeniably adorable. Oh wait, so are cats! It's no wonder viral videos of either break the internet regularly. So what could be cuter than a combination of the two, right? For some families the loving bond between baby and cat is palpable, but for others, well, baby and his or her feline don't feel the love. If you're noticing your baby cry and fuss around your family kitty, asking yourself, "Why does my baby hate the cat?" know that you're not alone. Turns out, science — and a few experts — has some answers.
In an interview with Romper, Jessica Zablan, owner of The Birth & Baby Company, says via email that "hate" may not be the right word when it comes to describing a baby's relationship with a family pet, cat or otherwise. Zablan says it's more likely that your baby is scared or overstimulated, which can happen easily for babies. "Babies become overstimulated very easily because they can't see much and there are lots of new sounds," Zablan adds. Because babies have been nice and cozy in the womb, the outside world can be little overwhelming for them, which can make them unsure of their surroundings and the people, or pets, they share those surroundings with.
There are other things that can overstimulate your baby, too. Any unfamiliar touch or environment can startle your baby, and it can become a lot for them to handle. According to Secrets of Baby Behavior, babies can also get upset when things or people come too close them, or come too close to them too quickly. Your cat may come and try to sniff or feel your baby (which, by the way, is normal cat behavior), and may even run or jump when the baby moves or makes their typical baby sounds. Your cat's behavior and reactions might overstimulate your baby, making them fussy and uncomfortable in the process.
Your cat may be uncomfortable around your baby, too. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), because some cats may not like or tolerate changes very well, it's important to prepare them, throughout your pregnancy, for the arrival of your baby by making the baby's nursery and furniture undesirable and off limits, and by introducing any changes in their cat care routine well before the baby arrives. After you bring your baby home, the ASPCA suggested letting your cat investigate a used baby blanket in a quiet space, so they can get familiar with the smell of the baby. They also suggested that you spend some alone time with your cat, too, so they don't get jealous of your new addition and stress out too much. It's also important to keep your cat away from your baby's face, crib, and nursery, as advised by the ASPCA, especially in the first few days after bringing them home.
So while babies may not have the capacity to hate, there definitely are more than a few things that can overstimulate them. If one of those triggers is your family cat, just take the time to comfort both of your babies and know that eventually they will form a loving bond (hopefully making for some amazing viral videos).