A growing familyIt’s always best to be prepared, once you know you are pregnant: -
- Make sure your cat is in good health by taking him for a check-up at the vet
- If your cat is not neutered, get this done without delay
- Introduce your cat to any baby items you buy, such as nursery furniture or prams – let your cat investigate but don’t let him climb on them and then keep them shut away. It is important to ensure the items are off limits because some will be very tempting places for your cat to sleep.
- Begin getting your cat used to the sounds of the baby. Record a friend or relative’s baby or buy a CD that you can play on a very low volume to being with 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.
A safe pregnancySadly, some mums-to-be consider giving up their cats over fears of 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 risk factor for toxoplasma infection, despite many believing this to be so. Although cats are a link in the transmission of toxoplasmosis, the main sources of infection to people are through contact with contaminated soil – from gardening without gloves or eating unwashed fruit or vegetables – or by eating undercooked meat.
It is best to wear gloves and an apron when dealing with your cat’s litter tray – better still, it’s the perfect excuse to get someone else to do it! If you are worried about owning a cat while pregnant, seek advice from your doctor and see Cat’s Protection Veterinary Guide: Cats and pregnant women – Toxoplasmosis.
New routinesCats are creatures of habit and thrive on routine. Introducing a new routine gradually for your cat before the baby arrives will help ease the situation when the big day comes. Begin by:
- Putting the nursery room strictly out of bounds – this is particularly important if your cat has previously had free rein in the house
- Reducing the amount of “lap time” your cat gets – you won’t have time to give your cat as much attention once the baby arrives
- If you need to move your cat’s feeding or toileting place, do it gradually so it will not upset your cat’s routine too much.
Once baby arrivesIt’s never too early for children to learn the respect, love and understand animals and it’s important they feel confident around them. It’s the basis of true companionship. Your baby will be around three months old before he or she first notices that there is something not human in the house. Your cat will have noticed the baby from day one and may be curious about the new arrival, so don’t panic if your cat sniffs the baby’s feet or hangs around the pram like a guard-cat. Not all cats are baby lovers, many will just ignore the new infant and keep a wide berth.
- Use a safe cot or pram net to keep the cat at bay – pull it taut to deter your cat from using it as a bed
- Keep the nursery inaccessible to your cat while the baby is asleep and make sure any open windows are cat proof
- Keep all of the baby’s feeding utensils out of the cat’s reach
- Keep the baby and cat food separately, you don’t want to get them mixed up in a sleep-deprived moment!
- Try and set aside a part of the day to make a fuss of your cat as it’s important that his normal routines are maintained – it will give you a chance to grab a quiet moment and relax
- Remember your cat should be regularly treated for fleas and worms and his litter tray kept clean
- Leave a baby and a cat together unsupervised, even if you trust your cat 100%
- Leave any children’s sandboxes uncovered in case a cat is tempted to use it as a litter tray.
If you have concerns about your cat’s behaviour once the baby has arrived, please seek advice from a qualified cat behaviourist who may easily be able to pinpoint a trigger factor and help you to get back to harmony you previously enjoyed. (Courtsey of Cats Protection)