This question is probably on your mind if you have a cat in the house and a baby in a crib. We love our feline friends almost as much as our little babes, and we want to know how we can all cohabitate without putting baby at risk. You can start by easing your mind if you’re worried about the potential dangers of keeping a cat at home while your little one slumbers in a crib.
Are Cats a Danger to Babies?
It’s worth noting that very few crib-related injuries are actually attributed to cats. There are tales as old as time of cats’ association with witchcraft and the bad luck that a black cat represents. Some 300 years ago, a cat was even found guilty of causing an infant’s demise by “sucking it’s breath”. By now, most people have dismissed this as wives’ tales from a panicky and suspicious time in our country’s history. Although, it is clear that there need to be boundaries in place to keep both baby and kitty safe and happy at home.
“It’s common sense not to leave a cat and a baby in the same room unsupervised”Dr. Schweiss – Vice President of Animal Welfare at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, interviewed by the Houston Chronicle.
Sometimes parents worry that a cat will be drawn by the smell of milk and want to snuggle up to baby, inadvertently causing harm. The more likely reasons a cat would try to enter a crib are that the crib is a warm, elevated, novel space. So, no, it’s not likely the case that your cat has jealousy issues and a malevolent plan. But, that said, yes, it is necessary to take some precautions.
Can Newborns Be Around Cats?
Yes. Newborns can be around cats. Yes. Cats are known to be possessive creatures, and once your cat has claimed you, it’s an irreversible bond. Baby, even more so. We totally understand, Mama. Great news! You don’t need to kick your family pet to the curb after years of companionship. You can put the appropriate safety precautions into place, do some common sense preparation, and have harmony for all at home.
How to Introduce Your Cat to Baby
If you haven’t brought baby home yet, imagine your cat like an older sibling. The ASPCA offers these tips and tricks on how to integrate cat and baby into a household together.
- Scent-sory Input. A month or so in advance, you might want to introduce the cat to the scents that will accompany baby by beginning to use baby wash in your own shower or the gentle laundry detergent you’ll use to wash baby’s things with to clean your clothes. You could also consider applying baby lotion to your hands when interacting with your cat.
- Play it Again. Your cat may not love what they perceive to be the racket and disruption of a new baby. Play recordings of baby sounds so that your cat can become more accustomed to the change in volume of your household.
- Give your Cat Space. Just like you might do before bringing a new cat or kitten into your home, try to set up an area where your cat feels they can safely retreat and be on their own. Maybe even consider a special cat crib for your fur baby, so they get a new sleep space, too.
- Exploration Opportunity. Another consideration here is helping your cat not feel displaced. For example, if the litter box is in the room where baby’s crib will be, start several months ahead of time moving it inch by inch to its new place to avoid a distressed cat urinating in baby’s sweet dream space.
How to Deter Your Cat from the Crib
“Let your cat tour the nursery” say the folks at The Spruce Pets “Allow your cat to investigate the new things you’re bringing into the space so it doesn’t feel left out and nervous. But be aware that your cat will likely want to investigate new furniture or items”. We certainly want our furry ones to feel at home in our changing space too. And yet, we also don’t want them so cozy in baby’s room that they might consider snuggling up to your little love.
That brings us to another standard recommendation for cat parents with a human baby on the way. Try to make the crib or bassinet unappealing to kitty a month or so before baby even enters the picture. If you’re reading this article, you’re a cat person. You know your cat best. Place anything inside baby’s crib that will make it a distasteful space for kitty about a month before baby comes home. A sheet of cardboard with double-sided masking tape covering the crib mattress and the changing pad is one typical option.
What to Avoid in Keeping Your Cat Out of the Crib
You only want to use things to keep kitty from climbing into the crib that won’t be harmful to baby or your pet.
- Not Even the Essentials. Peppermint oil is sometimes suggested because cats dislike it so. There’s a good reason they don’t like it, though, it can make them sick. Plus, it’s entirely too strong for baby’s delicate skin and senses, as well.
- Treacherous Crib Tent. Consumer Reports says the danger is that “the dome-shaped or drape-style tents are intended to keep a baby from climbing out of cribs and play yards. But babies can get wrapped up in the fabric and strangle.” Not only that, but a tent might also be just another tempting toy as far as kitty is concerned.
- Used-to-be Blues. You can help your cat feel less stress over the transition by not excluding kitty from day to day moments with baby. Letting a cat come over to check out a new baby during a nursing or feeding session for baby is a perfect time. Baby, Mom, and cat are all more likely to feel easy-going in this moment, making it a better opportunity for bedding.
Bringing Baby Home
Fetch by WebMD focuses on pet health and well-being. They recommend that you change kitty’s caregiver routines a couple of months before you bring baby home. Who goes to the groomer and who sets out the food dish may not seem like considerable disruptions to you, but your cat may need time to adjust.
Then, when you bring your bundle of joy home for the first time, consider your cat. If you can, you should take a moment to enter the house first, and alone, to greet your cat. You can place a baby blanket in a quiet corner for your curious kitty and then invite everyone else, along with baby, to arrive. Odds are your cat will take the cue to exit and reemerge later with mild curiosity rather than frenzied fear.
Now we know the how and why behind the lousy rap that cats have gotten in their interactions with baby. It’s possible that you’ve heard that it might be too dangerous to let your kitty-cat cohabitate with your darling new dear. The old superstitions might not hold so much sway these days, but there’s still the truth that a baby wouldn’t have the strength to move away if airflow were somehow restricted by a cat in the crib. It’s best to avoid the combo all together and only allow baby to sleep solo.
It comes down to this. The choice is yours alone, and you gotta go with your gut, Mama. That’s never going to stop being my slogan in all things. No one is denying that baby’s safety is absolutely every Mama’s first priority. Besides, it seems more than likely that you can find an accord between your precious pet and your sweet little snuggle bug. Plus, if the cat insists on the cradle, there’s a pretty fail-proof method left to try. Get a video baby monitor and close the door to the nursery when baby is dreaming.