• By Beth Oleson Marketing Director

Expecting a baby? You don’t have to give up your cat

Cats really suffer at the hands of old wives’ tales. It’s easy to laugh off some superstitions, like the idea that cats are bad luck or hang out with witches, but some tales are a little harder to shake; it’s not uncommon for us at Woodford Humane to hear from expecting mothers wanting to surrender a cat because they’re convinced cats put babies at risk. Don’t fall into that trap, moms and moms-to-be: you can have a happy, healthy baby and keep your feline friend too. First things first: cats do not smother babies or “steal their breath.” They’re curious, heat-seeking critters and may want to snuggle up in a crib with a new, warm friend, but that’s all. If you’re not comfortable with your cat sharing such close quarters with your baby – and in all honesty, you shouldn’t leave any animal alone with an infant – the solution is simple: don’t leave them together without supervision. Move any cat gear (bed, litter box, bowls) out of the nursery so your cat isn’t determined to spend time there, and monitor interactions so you know everyone is safe. Expecting moms may worry about toxoplasmosis, and that’s a more legitimate concern. It’s true that cats can carry the parasite that causes it. Toxoplasmosis is not easy to spread, however; cats pick it up by eating small animals that are infected, but they only shed live eggs in their stool for a few weeks after the first time they’re exposed. After that, they may carry the parasite, but they won’t pass it on. Plus, the parasite’s eggs take two to five days to mature; if you’re scooping the litter box every day, you’re safe. You’re actually more likely to contract the parasite from eating undercooked meat than you are from your cat. But, better safe than sorry - wear gloves when you scoop the box and wash your hands immediately afterward or have someone else take on the litter box duties. And keep your cat indoors! If he’s not getting the opportunity to eat little critters, he can’t pick up the parasite to begin with. Cats don’t deal with change gracefully, so help your cat get used to the idea of a new baby ahead of time. Play recordings of babies crying, establish boundaries (not allowed in the nursery, not allowed on the changing table, etc), try to work into your new, hectic schedule gradually instead of all at once. The slower you take it, the better your cat will handle it when the big day comes. Once the baby arrives, set aside a little time every day to shower your cat with affection. Much like a human first child, your cat will probably be feeling jealous and unloved with so much of your attention directed at your new arrival, and a little love can go a long way. But you already know that – that’s why you brought a cat home in the first place. If your cat (or dog) is having a hard time adjusting to a new baby, get in touch. You can reach Woodford Humane at 859-873-5491 or manager@woodfordhumane.org and we’ll do our best to help.

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