Cats and your family

Your cat, your family

Learn more about how cats fit in to different families and get along with all kinds of people, including babies, children and pregnant women.

Five important things

1. Cats are a wonderful companion for people of all ages

2. Cats can help to reduce stress

3. Cats can get along with other cats and dogs but they need a little patience to help them bond

4. Allergy sufferers often find that not all cats trigger their symptoms

5. Toxoplasmosis is rare and people most commonly catch it from under-cooked meat or unwashed food

Bringing a cat into your family

Cats are wonderful pets. In a remarkably short space of time they become a core part of our families, bringing us laughter, affection and companionship.

But did you know that cat owners are less likely to suffer from stress and are known to relax more and have greater life satisfaction? Cats keep their owners feeling young and active, and learning to care for a cat is great for a child's self-esteem, social skills and sense of responsibility.

See also - Cats and children

Cats and people

While some cats are naturally shy and a little cautious around new people, most cats will happily integrate into your family and get along well with all age groups.

See also: Meeting people, Cats and children

Other cats and dogs

Your cat's ancestor is the African wildcat that typically live alone. So while cats can live in harmony with other cats, it isn't a natural behaviour and they may need a little help, understanding and encouragement to learn to tolerate another cat's presence in their territory.

See also - Other cats

Dogs often get along well with cats, but we recommend that you introduce cats and dogs slowly, using a controlled process. It's much easier to introduce cats and dogs gradually than it is to repair a damaged relationship. First impressions are critical!

See also: Dogs and other pets

Cats and allergies

Are you allergic to cats? You may find that you are only allergic to some cats, but not others. Alternatively, what seems to be a cat allergy may be connected to something else in the environment, such as dust mites, so before you re-home your cat, spend some time away from your cat first so you can rule out other factors.

If you are mildly allergic to cats, you may also find that your symptoms fade over time, with repeated exposure to the same cat. If you want to get a cat, but aren't sure if you are allergic, try visiting a friend who has a cat, or a rescue centre, to see if the cats trigger your allergic reaction.

See also - Cats and allergies

Cats, pregnancy and toxoplasmosis

Your cat can be a calming influence during pregnancy.

When your baby arrives, you'll probably have less time for your cat, so it can be useful to start preparing for this moment so that you and your cat are ready.

See also - Cats and your pregnancy

Toxoplasmosis is a micro-organism typically spread through soil, unwashed fruit and vegetables and under-cooked meat. While a study in the British Medical Journal concluded that contact with cats was not a major risk factor for toxoplasma infection, pregnant women should take care when cleaning litter trays. You should wear gloves and an apron when handling litter trays - or get someone else to clean litter trays while you are pregnant.

See also: Toxoplasmosis

Related topics

Meeting people - Topic

Cats and your pregnancy - Topic

Cats and children - Topic

Toxoplasmosis - Topic

Dogs and other pets - Topic

Cats and allergies - Topic