Cats & Babies - Before Baby Arrivesby Martha Scully • August 12, 2014
Despite what the old wives' tales say, having a baby doesn't mean you have to get rid of the family cat. In fact, some studies have shown that babies who grow up with pets in the home are less likely to develop allergies later in life. With some careful research, planning, and practice, you can make it a smooth transition for you, your baby, and your cat.
When you find out that you are expecting, it is best to avoid changing the litter if at all possible. Cats can become infected with toxoplasmosis, which can cause miscarriage or stillbirth if the pregnant woman comes into contact with it. If can also cause birth defects such as blindness or deafness. Whenever possible, have your partner or a friend change the litter box for you. If that's not an option, wear gloves and a mask, and avoid breathing in the dust from the litter.
Because cats are creatures of habit, any changes to their home or routine needs to be done gradually, so it's best to start early. Some changes that will need to be made include:
- Play baby sounds in the home so the cat can get used to them - do this a few months before your due date
- Set up the baby's furniture early so that cat has plenty of time to check it out. Once he's used to it, start declaring certain pieces of furniture off-limits, including the crib, rocking chair, and change table
- If the litter box is in the soon-to-be nursery, move it a few inches each day until it has reached its new home to prevent confusion or anger in your cat
- If the sleeping area for the cat will change, move it gradually as well, at least a few months in advance. If it happens too suddenly and he notices the baby has taken his spot, he see the baby as a threat, which could cause issues with their relationship
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