You’re a cat lover, always have been. You may even consider yourself a fur mom. Now that you realize you’ll soon be the mother of a human baby too, you’re worried about your feline and infant getting along. Take some precautions leading up to and following the baby’s arrival to help ease the transition for everyone.
Keep You and Your Unborn Baby Healthy
Cats are considered very clean animals, but their feces can contain toxoplasmosis cysts if they eat raw meat. If you touch or inhale these cysts, you could have a miscarriage, stillbirth, or risk certain birth defects such as deafness, blindness, or epilepsy. You don’t have to get rid of your kitty to eliminate your risk. Just follow these tips:
- Keep your cat indoors so she can’t eat mice or birds.
- Don’t feed your cat raw or under-cooked meat.
- Ask someone else to empty the litter box—you’ll never have a better excuse. Make sure this chore happens at least once a day to prevent cysts in feline feces from becoming infectious.
- Wear gloves when gardening since neighborhood cats may use your garden as a litter box unbeknownst to you.
- Wear gloves when washing raw fruits and vegetables, handling raw meat, or cleaning food preparation surfaces.
Prepare Your Cat for the Baby’s Arrival
If your cat doesn’t tolerate change well, she could have a hard time once you bring your newborn home. Use your entire pregnancy to prepare her:
- Play recordings of baby sounds.
- Rub your hands with baby powder or baby lotion before playing with your cat to help her associate the new smells with positive interactions.
- Set up the nursery without delay. Introducing this change first gives your cat several weeks to investigate before you declare certain furniture, such as the changing table and crib, off limits. To make surfaces undesirable about a month before the baby arrives, stick double-sided tape anywhere you don’t want your cat to go. She’ll learn quickly to stop jumping on these sticky surfaces.
- Begin shifting the litter box a few inches at a time toward its new home if the current location is the future nursery. Transitioning too quickly could encourage your cat to return to the old spot, even if the litter box is no longer there. Covering the old litter box location with a piece of furniture will help deter this behavior.
- If you need to relocate your cat’s sleeping spot, do this gradually at the same time as shifting the litter box to its new home.
Take Final Precautions Once the Baby Arrives
If all went well during the preparation stages, you’re probably feeling pretty good. Make sure your positive feelings last with these final tips once your baby comes home:
- Be the first person to calmly greet your cat once you return from the hospital. Place a piece of used infant clothing on the floor of a quiet room where your cat can investigate it. Let her become familiar with the smell before she comes face-to-face with the baby.
- Once you feel you have reconnected and the cat is comfortable, let everyone else in, including your partner, baby, parents and any well-wishers.
- Keep the crib and other baby sleeping locations off limits to the cat. Close the door when your baby is napping or place a crib tent over the crib to keep the curious kitty out.
- When your baby is sleeping, take time to bond with your cat to make sure she knows you still love her.
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