Having a new baby is a life-altering event, especially if you are the proud owner of pets. There are many cautionary tales about cats interacting with babies or pregnant women getting sick from their pets. Below is a simplified summary of what all cat-owners need to be aware of while pregnant, as well as how to prepare a cat for a new baby, and how to stay healthy throughout.
Preparing Your Cat for the Baby
Acquaint your cat with the new baby’s smell. Rub some of the baby lotion, oil, or powder you plan on using, over the new baby’s future wash cloth. Then let your cat smell it and become familiar with it, so that when the baby arrives it will be an easier adjustment.
Schedule amendments. Maybe playing with your cat every evening after work is no longer a possibility since your whole schedule is changing. Talk with your partner or spouse about how you can be intentional about spending time playing with the cat or petting him each for several extra minutes each day.
De-worm and de-flea your cat before the due date. Remove the possibility for parasitic infestations before your baby comes, by ridding the cat of worms and fleas (whose droppings can lead to cat scratch disease, infections and fevers). If your cat and your home is clean, you will be less concerns about what your child is being exposed to, which will be a far less stressful environment for your cat.
Warnings for Pregnant Women
- Keep your cat inside. There is a long list of diseases cats can get from other felines (including FIV, FeL, ringworm, mites, ticks, fleas, rabies, and respiratory infections, Bartonella henselae bacteria, and toxoplasmosis, etc.) some of which can result in still births, birth defects, and severe illness to the mother. The best way to avoid these risks is keep your cat strictly inside, both for his well-being and your own.
- Do not clean the litter box. You are off the hook! Since toxoplasmosis is a serious threat to expectant mothers, it is time to pass the buck for this season of your life. Have your spouse take on the responsibility so that you and your child will not be exposed to the bacteria and contaminants.
- Wear gloves when gardening. Fecal matter from animals is one way which diseases like toxoplasmosis are transmitted. Though your kitty might be an inside-only pet, there could be rodents, stays or feral cats that visit your garden at night. Be sure to always wear gloves and wash your hands after gardening to be on the safe side.
- Do not feed the cat raw meat during pregnancy. Help your cat avoid contracting any kind of illness, contamination or worms while you are particularly susceptible. Whenever you have to handle raw meat or are cooking with raw meat, be sure to either wear gloves, or wash your hands immediately after.
- Do not pet, approach, or hold strange cats. If you see a lost kitten in your neighborhood, your heart may go out to it, but make sure your hand doesn’t. Call the local shelter and notify them that you have spotted a homeless or stray cat, but try not to have contact with it yourself, no matter how friendly the feline may seem. Even if your friend found the most adorable cat abandoned on the road and you really want to pet her, resist the urge. Stray and feral cats may carry dangerous bacteria, and until the kitty is checked out by a vet, given shots, anti-parasite baths and de-worming meds, try to steer clear. It is not worth the risk of jeopardizing your baby.