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Preparing for a new arrival? Take a look at our tips on how to help your cat cope with a baby in the home.

Getting you and your cat ready for your baby

Expecting a baby is an exciting time with lots of change and preparation and helping your cat adjust to the change of routine is important too. For tips on how to prepare your cat for your baby, watch our video below. You can also download our pregnancy planner on how to prepare your cat and help your cat adjust to baby noises with our MP3 playlist.

Preparing your cat for your baby's arrival

Unsure how to best prepare your cat for the arrival of your little one? Find out more from Behaviourist, Daniel, as he shares his top tips for cats and pregnant women.

How can I prepare my cat for my baby?

Cats are wonderful, stress-reducing companions, so they can be a very welcome, calming influence during pregnancy.

There are some steps you can take to ensure everyone is prepared for your new arrival:

  • take your cat to the vet for a check-up
  • get your cat neutered if they aren't already
  • introduce your cat to new baby equipment, such as nursery furniture or a pram. Let your cat investigate but don't let them climb on them and then keep them shut away. It's important to keep baby items off limits as they will be very tempting places for your cat to sleep
  • get your cat used to hearing baby sounds
  • consult your doctor or health visitor about any other steps that you need to take
Download the pregnancy planner

Do cats know you're pregnant?

Although we can't be completely sure if cats can sense pregnancy in humans, we do know that they are very sensitive to changes in routine.

Pregnancy comes with many adjustments, including mental and physical changes. Because cats have a keen sense of smell, they notice when their owner's body odour changes, which can happen due to hormones, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. Your daily routines may also become different, or you may reorganise your home to prepare for the birth and arrival of your baby. 

All of these things can be unfamiliar or unsettling to your cat and their behaviour can change. 

Depending on your cat's personality, they might bond with you and show more affection, or you may find that they become withdrawn and prefer to spend more time alone. 

There are measures you can take to help your cat adjust by making any changes gradually and giving the cat more hiding places. You can also help your cat feel more relaxed by trying to fit into a regular routine as much as possible and showing the attention they are used to.

If your cat enjoys it, getting more interactive toys such as fishing rod toys with feathers on a string or offering their food in a puzzle feeder can be helpful. Find out more about the benefits of cats and play

Should I worry about toxoplasmosis when I'm pregnant? 

Some people believe - mistakenly - that cats can be bad for pregnant women. This belief stems from concerns about toxoplasmosis, a micro-organism that can affect the foetus if a pregnant woman is infected. However, a major study in the British Medical Journal concluded that contact with cats was not a significant risk factor for toxoplasma infection.

Pregnant women should wear disposable gloves and an apron when cleaning litter trays - or get someone else to do this. Litter trays should be cleaned daily to reduce the possibility of toxoplasmosis spores developing from infected faeces.

Find out more about cats and toxoplasmosis

Before and after your baby arrives

Cats are creatures of habit, so the biggest challenge for your cat might be the changes to routines that occur with the arrival of a baby. You can help your cat adjust by making some changes before your baby arrives. Follow our top tips. 

  • Make the nursery off-limits, particularly if your cat is used to having free rein in your home
  • Reduce the amount of lap time your cat enjoys (you won't have as much time for your cat when your baby arrives)
  • If you need to move your cat's feeding or toileting spots, do this gradually so your cat can adjust

When your baby arrives:

  • use a safe cot or pram net to keep the cat away and pull it taut to deter your cat from using it as a bed
  • make sure the nursery is inaccessible while your baby sleeps and make sure any windows are cat-proof
  • keep baby's feeding utensils out of your cat's reach
  • keep baby and cat food separate - you don't want to mix them up in a sleep-deprived moment!
  • try to save a little time to give your cat attention daily. This will help you both remain relaxed
  • remember your cat should be treated regularly for fleas and worms and their litter tray kept clean

And never:

  • leave your baby and cat together alone, even if you trust your cat completely
  • leave children's sandboxes uncovered in case a cat uses it as a litter tray

How to keep your cat out of a cot or pram

A warm, comfortable cot is often an attractive place for a cat to rest. They might also take a shine to moses baskets, next-to-me cots, prams and anywhere else meant for your baby.

It’s important to keep your cat away from where your baby sleeps and instead offer them a cosy place of their own. Make sure to give your cat lots of different places to sleep so they can choose their favourite. Some cats prefer igloo beds because they are enclosed and many like to be up high on a shelf or bed.

Try to keep your cat away from your baby’s pram or cot by making sure they’re in a room your cat can’t get in to. You could also fill them with objects that stop your cat from settling and aren’t comfy to sleep on to put your cat off. If your cat does get into your baby’s cot or pram, encourage them away from the cot or pram, or if necessary gently remove them and try to encourage them to a different sleeping spot.

There are some so-called ‘cat nets’ on the market designed to go around cots and prams to stop cats getting in them. These are often ineffective as the cat will still climb on the net and it could harm your cat if they get tangled, or even harm your baby if the cat were to get on the net and it collapsed. We would not recommend using these but instead follow our advice above.

How to prepare your cat with baby sounds

Before your baby arrives, introduce your cat to baby-crying noises in a safe and controlled way. To help you, we’ve created an MP3 of baby cries to download.

Our guide:

  1. At a time when nothing else stressful is going on in the home, choose a room that the cat is naturally relaxed in.
  2. Find a device on which you can play the crying audio. 
    Test the sound volume when the cat is not in the room, so as not to spook them and set the volume to a very low level so that it is barely audible.
  3. When the cat chooses to enter the room, start playing the audio at the original, low volume for approximately two minutes – this may need to be shortened depending on your cat’s reaction. You can interact with your cat as normal at this time but don’t do anything that will make them stressed.
  4. If the cat does not appear fazed by the noise, repeat steps 1-3 at the same volume level on two more separate occasions. If the cat remains unfazed by the noise, you can then progress to step five.
  5. Increase the volume by a small amount and repeat steps 1-4. If your cat is happy with the volume then slightly increase it again and continue this process over time until the volume is as loud as a normal baby’s cry.
  • Remember, if at any stage your cat looks uncomfortable or fearful, return to a lower volume. 
  • Never make a sudden jump in volume as this could spook your cat – it needs to be gradual for it to work.
  • The entire point of this exercise is for your cat to have no reaction to the sound, so don’t panic if you don’t see your cat react – this is what is supposed to happen. If you increase the volume gradually over time, hopefully you’ll never see a reaction!
Download baby sounds MP3

Concerned about your cat's behaviour?

If you are concerned about your cat's behaviour following your baby's arrival, please seek advice from a qualified cat behaviourist who may be able to pinpoint a trigger and help you resolve the issue.

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