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Looking for advice on cats and babies?

Welcoming a new baby into your family is a magical time. With a new bundle of joy, you might be concerned about the impact on your cat, especially if this is your first baby.

It’s not unusual for expectant parents to wonder if they need to rehome their cat in this situation. The good news is cats and babies can live together in harmony, and many cat owners find that cats make excellent companions for their children.

We’ve created this guide to cats and babies to help you make introducing your cat to your new baby as easy as possible. We also answer common questions such as can cats get jealous of babies, should the nursery be out of bounds for my cat, do cats get along with babies, and what to do if your cat is having trouble adjusting to changes in your home.

A growing family

 It’s always best to be prepared, so once you know you are pregnant:

  • make sure your cat is in good health by taking them for a check-up at the vet
  • if your cat is not neutered, get this done without delay
  • introduce your cat to any baby items you buy, such as nursery furniture or prams – let your cat investigate but don’t let them climb on them, and then keep them shut away. It is important to ensure the items are off limits because some will be very tempting places for your cat to sleep
  • try giving your cat something that smells of a baby, such as a blanket or a worn baby grow, to get them used to the new smell
  • begin getting your cat used to the sounds of the baby. Record a friend or relative’s baby to play on a very low volume to begin with and gradually increase the noise. Crying can be worrying for a cat that hasn’t heard it before. You can make use of our sounds library here.
  • consult your doctor or health visitor about any other steps that you need to take

Find out more about cats and your pregnancy

Bringing your baby home

Cats love routine and one of the best ways to make introducing your cat to your baby go as smoothly as possible is to be proactive. We have lots of tips in our ‘Cats and your pregnancy’ guide to help you prepare for your cat for the baby, long before they arrive.

When you first introduce your cat to your baby, try to stay calm and relaxed, as this will help your cat feel more at ease. Here’s a few things you can do:

  • take a quiet moment when you arrive home with your new baby to greet your cat alone
  • introduce your cat and baby in a neutral space, preferably not where your cat eats or sleeps
  • some cats might be curious, allow them to sniff or investigate the baby if they want to
  • don’t force your cat to interact with your baby, if your cat wants to leave or hide, let them go
  • praise and reward your cat for calm behaviour around your new baby
  • try to keep routines as normal as possible, this will help minimise disruption for your cat

Helping your cat adjust to your baby

You might be wondering do cats get along with babies? The answer is yes, with a little patience. The most important part of helping your cat adjust to your new family member is to be patient and kind.

The addition of a baby will bring lots of new smells, sounds and probably lots of new baby equipment to the house. This can be quite overwhelming for a cat, especially if the home was very calm and quiet previously. There are several things you can do to keep everyone happy during this time:

  • provide plenty of hiding spaces and a quiet spot in your home for your cat to retreat to
  • consider providing more scratch posts and cat trees, as scratching and hiding in high places can help your cat feel more secure and reduce stress
  • make time each day to spend quality time with your cat
  • consider using a pheromone diffuser such as Feliway to help your cat stay calm

Is it safe to have cats around newborns?

Understandably, lots of new and expectant parents ask themselves the question: is it safe to have cats around newborns? A newborn is especially vulnerable, so you should take precautions to prevent any accidents and therefore cats and babies should always be supervised. However, many will just ignore the new infant and keep a wide berth.

If you’re wondering should the nursery be out of bounds for your cat, it is good practice to keep your cat away, especially with a newborn. Once you’ve decided which room will be the nursery, start teaching your cat as early as possible that the room is off limits, so it’s not a shock to be shut out when the new baby arrives.

You should also discourage your cat from using the cot as a bed, even before the baby arrives. You could try giving them a choice of places to sleep including in a warm spot of the house.

Keeping your baby safe

As with any pet, there are some things you need to bear in mind, but generally it’s perfectly safe for cats and babies to live together. For example, you might be worried that your cat could bite or scratch. Cats are not typically aggressive, and if they feel threatened, they will often back away and hide.

It’s really important to make sure that interactions between your cat and baby are supervised, particularly as your baby gets older and starts crawling around, as unexpected movement and noise might frighten your cat and cause injury. Toddlers can seem very unpredictable from a cat’s perspective.

New parents also tend to ask can cats make babies sick? You should treat your cat regularly for both fleas and worms, as this will reduce the risk of your baby getting ill. Cat poo also presents a small risk, so keep your cat’s litter tray well out of reach of children and make sure to clean any surfaces your cat could stand on – such as kitchen sides – to prevent cross-contamination. Last but not least, keep your baby’s feeding utensils stored safely away from curious paws.

Some parents worry that their baby might develop allergies with a cat in the house. It is unlikely your baby will develop these from exposure to cats. In fact, some studies have shown that children living with pets are less likely to develop allergies.

Do cats get along with babies?

There are lots of reasons why cats are great companions for children, and with a little patience, cats and babies can be the best of friends. A 2018 survey by Cats Protection found that 96% of people agree there are benefits to children growing up with cats, from teaching them compassion to encouraging a sense of responsibility.

By taking the proper precautions and keeping an eye on how your cat and baby interact, you’re helping them develop a friendship that could last a lifetime. If you’re looking for success stories, check out our blog featuring stories from real cat owners that have become parents.

Behavioural issues

Cats thrive on routine and having a new baby in your home can be unsettling for everyone. This could lead to some behavioural issues such as excessive vocalisation, toileting issues or aggression.

If you’re worried about their behaviour or struggling to cope, do seek advice from your vet to rule out medical reasons and then get a referral to a qualified cat behaviourist from the Animal Behaviour and Training Council (www.abtc.org.uk) who will be able to help to provide advice tailored to your own cat and the situation.

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