Pregnancy and Cats: On Pregnancy, Babies and Cats
by Debbie Sentes
You do not have to get rid of your cat because you are pregnant, or have a new baby in the house!! Pregnancy when you have a cat presents some challenges, but don’t worry, none of them are insurmountable. You just need a little planning and know-how. Cats and babies have coexisted peacefully for thousands of years. This article deals with preparing for a new baby; the second part discusses what to do once baby arrives.
The Facts About Pregnancy and Cat Litter
Because toxoplasmosis can cause birth defects in children, pregnant women sometimes assume they must get rid of their cat. This is entirely unnecessary, since a few simple measures will thoroughly safeguard against catching the disease, especially from your cat. Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite that can infect your cat if she eats prey already harboring the parasite, or comes into contact with contaminated soil. Toxoplasmosis is rare among indoor-only cats.
Note that cats who contract toxoplasmosis do not always show symptoms. To prevent getting infected with the disease, whenever you scoop or clean the litter box, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands immediately afterward. Even better, get a friend or adult member of the family to take over litter box maintenance during pregnancy.
Many people naturally acquire an immunity to toxoplasmosis, and will not pass it on to their unborn child. In fact, the chances are that you have already been exposed by handling raw meat or gardening without gloves. Millions of people carry the parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.
Babies and Cats
There are many myths surrounding cats and babies that are still perpetuated to this day. There are people today who still actually believe cats will “steal a baby’s breath while he/she is sleeping”!! It is advisable of course, to not allow your cat to sleep in, or even climb on, your baby’s crib. A particularly friendly feline might interfere with a baby’s breathing by curling up in the cradle or lick the baby’s face, for example. Once your baby is at all mobile, he/she will probably try to play in the kitty litter at some point. As a part of baby-proofing your home, you should find a place for the litter box that is inaccessible to the baby. Also, keeping your kitty well-groomed and clean will reduce the risk that he will carry disease, fleas or ticks. While it may initially sound like a lot of work, helping your cat become adjusted to your newborn is well worth the effort.
Another reason many people part with their cat is that they think he will be jealous of the new baby. However, why wouldn’t you wait until the baby has arrived to see if the cat is actually jealous or not? And if the cat is jealous, why not try to work with your cat instead of giving him to strangers or to the humane society? Your cat will also likely crave more attention after your newborn arrives, but once kitty is relaxed, she will most likely come to accept the baby as part of the family.
With so many cats and not enough homes for them all, it is paramount that the effort is made to keep your four-legged precious family member with you at home after baby arrives!