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Cat Safety for Babies and Children

By: Rachel Newcombe - Updated: 19 Apr 2015 | comments*Discuss
 
Cat Kitten Train Training Home House

If you've currently got a cat and are soon to have a new baby in the family, or if you're thinking of getting a pet, it's important to consider how babies and cats will interact. Many families with cats have no problems at all, but from a safety point of view, do babies and young children get on with cats?

Change in Behaviour

When you've had a cat for a while, suddenly introducing a new member of the family, in the form of a tiny baby, can be unsettling to their normal routine. After all, they're a part of the family, too. Introducing A New Baby To Your Pet Dog can be a relatively simple affair, but cats seem to be more resistant and there have been a small number of incidences where cats have accidentally smothered a baby by sleeping in the pram.

Cats are very sensitive animals and they're territorial, so a new baby in their space upsets what their routine. There are new smells and sounds, people will be spending more time in the house, and the cat may not be allowed in certain rooms anymore.

Some cats react by retreating off on their own, disappearing outside, into a quiet room or a quiet space they can find. Other cats act a bit stroppy, insisting on trying to get into the rooms they've always used! Some cats may start excessively grooming themselves and may also reassert their rights by changing from facial gland marking to urine spraying - not pleasant with a baby around.

How to Minimise Disruption

To minimise disruption for your cat, it's helpful to prepare for the new arrival in advance. For example:
  • Get the cat used to not going in certain rooms, for example where the nursery will be.
  • Set aside one room where you can play with the cat and have quality time with it, away from the baby. Start doing this before the baby arrives, to get your cat used to it.
  • Many cats dislike the sound of crying babies. As crying is likely to become the norm in your house, you'll need to get your cat used to it. Try playing a CD of crying, while stroking your cat and comforting him.
  • Teach the cat not to sit in the pram.
  • If you haven't already got one, consider buying the cat a climbing centre, perhaps with a box at the top, so the cat is kept amused and has somewhere to jump up into if he feels the need to hide away.

Bringing Baby Home

When you first bring your baby home, be aware of your cat's needs and feelings. Don't constantly remove the cat from the room, but be happy for him to watch and observe the new situation. Include your cat in what's going on by talking to him or giving him a treat.

Treats for cats work well when you're feeding your baby, as it keeps the cat happy and lets him know you're thinking of him, too. If the cat tries to crawl on your lap when you're feeding, firmly remove him and encourage him to sit next to you instead.

Pram safety and cot safety is important and you may find a cat net beneficial. Cats love warm areas and prams and cots can seem appealing! But on rare occasions cats have been known to suffocate babies if they get in on top of them, so discourage your cat from climbing into the pram or cot.

Health-wise, cats are generally safe to have around. Children can get flea bites, so it's important to keep your cat flea-free. And remember to have basic hygiene rules, like not letting your cat lick your baby's face.

Buying a Cat

If you're thinking of Buying A Pet and already have a family, then it's still important to ensure that your new cat gets on with your children. Before you go ahead and buy a cat, check:
  • The cat has no record of aggression.
  • Whether the cat is known not to get on with children.
  • If it's a kitten, consider the practicalities of training it.

First impressions are important and could indicate how well your children will get on with the cat, so taking them to see it before you make a final decision is really helpful. If your children don't feel comfortable with the cat, shy away from it or won't go near it, then you'll have to think again. Likewise, if the cat seems to react badly to your children, it may not be the right cat for you.

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[Add a Comment]
Cat DO steal babies breath!It is intentional , they are not cuddling and they are not sniffing milk. ! They align their nose against the babies nose and hold babies mouth closed with their chin. !Then they inhale very rapidly . I have witnessed it with my son , it was very scary. Rachel Newcombknows nothing !
Ray - 19-Apr-15 @ 7:17 PM
We have a six year old cat, who isn't aggressive but is nervous.She is a semi house cat but she runs away from my friends' children and won't come indoors.We have not been parents before butare adopting a child next year probably between 3-6 years old.Obviously this is a different situation to introducing a new baby. Any tips about how to keep both of them safe? I am really worried that my cat willleave and never come back or the child will react badly because they can't make friends. Any ideas about what I can do to prepare for both of them?
Cat - 17-May-13 @ 10:41 AM
Hi I have a 7month old boy and have just brought a 6 week old kitten. by my baby keep sneezing since the kitten has been here Does this mean he is aallergic to cats ?
sanj - 4-Sep-12 @ 8:51 AM
I agree entirely with the previous post. We have a two month old and have had a cat for three years. We have had absolutely no issues at all. For the first few days, the cat was rather afraid but she soon got used to the new arrival and since then she has simply ignored her other than the odd gentle approach to sniff the air around her. It is probably more difficult when the child is older as inevitably children do not understand cats' sensitivity. With a new baby though, I find the idea that a cat will hurt it to be scaremongering. Too many cats are sent to animal charities once a new baby is about to appear and it is very unfair on the cat. In fact, I believe that cats have a natural understanding of what babies are and they leave them alone. I would not leave a cat and a baby in the same room just in case since cats are, after all, wild creatures inside. My caution is only because young cats have a tendency to run around like idiots on occasions and I don't want to risk her clumsily landing on top of the baby during her play hunts. I doubt she would though.
tom - 29-Jun-12 @ 2:27 PM
Generally cats and babies get along without any problems, even cats who are used to being the centre of attention. And don't believe the old myth about cars smothering babies when they're in their prams, it's simply not true, just an old wives' tale. The reality is that cats will keep their distance from the baby for quite a while. Once the baby is crawling, the cat will also keep away at first. Do watch the baby. If it pulls the cat's tail, the animal will react, sometimes with its claws.
Lila - 6-Jun-12 @ 11:30 AM
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