Cats and your pregnancy

Preparing for a new baby? Look at our guide

Getting you and your cat ready for your baby

Your cat can be a wonderful companion and calming influence during pregnancy. By making sure that you and your cat are prepared for your new arrival, you can reduce the chance of stress later. Keep reading for suggestions of how you can prepare.

Cats, pregnancy and toxoplasmosis

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.

See also: Toxoplasmosis, Cats and toxoplasmosis

Help your cat adjust to your new 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. You could play samples of crying babies from YouTube - but start on a low volume and gradually increase the noise. Crying can be worrying for a cat that hasn't heard it before
  • consult your doctor or health visitor about any other steps that you need to take

See also: Cats and children

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:

  • 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

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.

Related topics

Toxoplasmosis - Topic

Cats and children - Topic

Meeting people - Topic