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Cats and Young Children

An old wives tale warns against owning a cat if you have a baby; the belief is that a cat will crawl into a crib and suffocate your baby by sitting on him or her!

Although we’ve all heard this one, given that it’s passed down through the generations, this is far from true; and if you own a cat and have a baby, you can juggle the two quite nicely as long as you are careful. Owning a cat also has a number of benefits for children; it teaches a child to respect animals, to take care of something littler than he or she, and provides a furry companion for him or her. However, just like with anything else with young children, you have to be watchful and be ready for a quick rescue and possibly a band-aid or two. There are some steps you can take though to make the transition from a one-cat family one that now has a baby as well.

Your Cat’s Temperament

There’s not much you can do about this if you weren’t planning on having children, but if you can manage it, get a cat with a more modest and mild temperament. Certainly a cat that plays and bats at string is fun, but a cat who will happily loll around while your toddler pokes at her is a lot less stressful! Try to get a cat who is mild mannered and willing to leave if she’s being bothered. Get a female if you can and of course get her spayed. These things will help to guarantee a mild and non-territorial animal, which will make it easier for her to get accustomed to your baby.

Cat’s Space

However, if you have a male cat or one who’s more territorial, there are ways to manage this, as well. Do things like make sure to give him some solid attention, even for just a few minutes a day, and make sure to set aside a room that is your cat’s and that the baby will not be able to get into. Your cat will especially love this when your baby turns into an active toddler and it comes time to escape sticky fingers. Even if your cat is the mildest and laziest one in the world, he’ll still appreciate a room where the toddler won’t be invading his naptime.

Senses

A cat’s whole world is wrapped up in her sense of smell. If you want to get your cat accustomed to the idea of having a baby around, then start out by getting your cat used to the smells of baby; baby powder, lotions, and even breast milk or formula if you can manage it. By wearing these scents and keeping them around the cat, your pet won’t be so shocked when the baby comes in smelling like… well, a baby.

Other things you can do is to include playing baby sounds around the cat so he can get used to crying and wailing. If you don’t want your cat getting into your baby’s crib or near it, put up a screen in the doorway so that your cat can at least feel involved instead feeling neglected. And of course, give your newborn and toddler plenty of opportunities to stroke, pat and kiss kitty. Both the child and the cat will appreciate that!

House Prep Work

Finally, make sure the house is both pet and baby friendly. Keep cat litter and cat food out of baby’s reach, as much as possible, and make sure that your cat is dewormed and has all her flea treatments in order. If you’ve not done so already, please put up any screens in the windows to ensure your furry kid doesn’t get out of doors. This is a good idea whether you have a baby or not and is especially recommended while your cat adjusts to no longer being number 1 in your life. Also consider them for doors to keep your cat out of your baby’s room and by the same token, make sure that baby can’t get into kitty’s room! Finally, make sure to remind visitors that your cat needs love too and that way your cat won’t develop any sibling rivalry feelings towards your baby.

With a bit of effort and work, your cat and your baby can become friends and this is beneficial for the entire family. Whatever you do, don’t get rid of your cat! Instead, work to make the family unit a stronger one by including your cat and doing the necessary preparations for both baby and your pet.



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