Preparing for a new arrival? Take a look at our tips on how to help your cat cope with a baby in the home.
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.
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.
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:
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Depending on your cat's personality, they might bond with you and show more affection, or you may find that they become withdrawn and prefer to spend more time alone.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.
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
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.
When your baby arrives:
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.
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.
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.