Do cats know not to hurt babies?
How To Keep Your Cat Out of Your Baby’s Crib
If you’re a cat mama and a new baby mama, you’ve probably already discovered that there’s something about a nice, firm crib mattress that seems to attract cats from the first moment.
And although it’s cute to find your little four-legged friend dozing like a baby in the crib, it’s disconcerting if your baby happens to be dozing in their bed at the same time. We know this from experience!
But there’s no need to worry. Eliminating risk and creating a safe, harmonious environment for your fur baby and your human baby is completely possible.
In this guide, we’ll discuss all the methods you can use to keep your cat out of your baby’s crib.
- Prepare your cat for the baby by introducing new scents, sounds, and creating a quiet space for them.
- Keep the crib cat-free by installing a screen door, providing an alternative spot for your cat, and making the crib less appealing.
- Avoid using crib nets, peppermint oil, and excluding your cat from family activities.
- Encourage supervised interaction between your cat and baby to foster a safe and harmonious environment for all.
Table of Contents
- Can Cats and Babies Co-Exist?
- Preparing Your Cat for Baby
- How to Keep Your Crib Cat-Free
- 3 Things To Avoid
- Avoid Cat-astrophes
Can Cats and Babies Co-Exist?
Cats classically have a reputation for being territorial, fussy, unpredictable, and jealous. Not all of them are this way, and many cat moms know this — but they also know the cat was around the house first.
So, can a cat accept the arrival of a new, noisy human in their kingdom? Of course, they can! Think about all the different ways you’d prepare an older child for the arrival of a younger sibling, or maybe how you’d introduce a new pet to an existing one.
Taking steps to familiarize your cat with your newest family member and teaching them early on to avoid the crib and your baby’s other areas is the best way to ensure they exist together safely (1) .
Preparing Your Cat for Baby
Start now! Spending the duration of your pregnancy preparing your cat for the baby and establishing off-limits areas can make the transition seamless and simple. Start with showing them new scents, and practice by introducing things to your cat slowly.
If you already have your newborn, you can still follow these steps.
By nature, cats are curious. They have a very similar curiosity to that of a child, which will make them great companions in the future.
Addressing some of your cat’s curiosities before the baby arrives can help keep the kitty out of the crib:
- Scents: What do babies smell like? Your cat will want to know. Bring out the baby products, like baby lotion, powder, or a special shampoo. Use them around the house so your cat will associate the new baby smells with their everyday life.
- Sounds: New sounds are one of the most stressful changes for a cat, so start slowly with a monitored, careful introduction. Playing baby sounds you find on the internet may help do this. When your baby cries or coos, it won’t surprise the cat.
- Space: As loving as our cats can be, they also need peace and quiet. Prepare a quiet, secure area where they can hide out when they feel the need.
This will help make all these new things familiar to your cat, reducing their curiosity and urge to jump into the crib to investigate.
How to Keep Your Crib Cat-Free
You should explore different options for keeping your cat-free areas safe before the baby arrives. But there are ways to solve the problem of your cat intruding after you and your baby have come home.
Consider these options and see what works for you and your family.
1. Install a Screen Door
Including your cat in your baby’s presence will make the whole experience seem less stressful for them, so allow them the opportunity to supervise the baby from afar.
A screen door in the nursery will give your cat a good view and a way to smell your baby without risking them getting into the crib. This is a better option than crib nets, which may be dangerous (2) .
2. Make Space for Your Cat
More than anything, your cat will be curious about your baby. As intelligent creatures, they see how important this baby is to the family, and they’ll want to be close.
Give your cat an alternative to sleeping in the crib by setting up a perch or bed on the other side of the room.
3. Make the Crib Less Appealing
Before the baby arrives, you can put uncomfortable, noisy items into the crib, such as a flat layer of tinfoil or baby crinkle toys. Each time your cat jumps in, they’ll be greeted by startling sounds and no cozy place to sleep.
They’ll eventually decide the crib is not a prime napping spot and will leave your baby in peace when you bring them home.
4. Cat Deterrent Motion Sensors
While other methods are less stressful to the cat, cat deterrent motion sensors can be a quick way to train your cat if you’re running out of time before the baby comes home.
These devices work as a spray form or an ultrasonic sound meant to startle and deter your cat away from the designated area.
5. Close the Door
If nothing else seems to be working and your cat keeps finding their way into the crib, it might be time to start closing the door. Investing in a video baby monitor can help make this an easier choice.
Excluding your cat from this part of your life shouldn’t be the first thing you try, and with some patience, they should learn what message you’re trying to convey to them.
3 Things To Avoid
Many well-meaning cat parents have tried various methods without realizing the potential dangers they could impose. Recognizing the risks of these methods is important for the safety of your cat and your baby.
1. Crib Nets
While these contraptions may seem like the obvious method for preventing your cat from getting inside the crib, they can be very dangerous for your baby. The fabric could fall into the crib, especially if your cat messes with it, causing your child to get strangled in the mesh (3) .
2. Peppermint Oil
Many people will suggest putting peppermint oil on everything that belongs to your baby. Cats hate it, and they have good reason! Peppermint oil is very dangerous to cats and should be avoided. It can cause tummy problems or pneumonia (4) .
3. Excluding Your Cat
Try to put yourself into your cat’s place and understand how all these changes make them feel. Even cats who react poorly to a new baby by acting out and getting anxious or stressed should be included in the family.
Don’t lock your cat away from your baby. Instead, focus on supervised moments together.
Your cat is an important part of the family, and a new baby doesn’t have to change that.
Take the steps together as a team, both pet and human, to ensure a safe, happy, and purr-fect environment for everyone.
Try introducing your cat to the sounds and smells of a new baby, and create designated safe zones so they can get some peace when they need it.
Cats and Babies: Setting up for Success
It can be an exciting time: you’re expecting a baby! But worrying about whether your first baby, the kitty you’ve spoiled and doted on, will accept your new human child can introduce stress to the situation. Some people may have even advised you to get rid of your cat to avoid any problems with the baby.
Here’s what you need to know about cats and babies including why some people may advocate that you get rid of your cat when you’re pregnant, what you can do instead, and how you can prepare for a great cat-kid relationship.
You Don’t Have to Get Rid of Your Cat When You’re Expecting a Child
Many people who find out they’re having a baby seek new homes for their cats or, even worse, send them outside or surrender them to a shelter. This isn’t necessary in the huge majority of cases. Below are some of the reasons people consider getting rid of their cats when they are expecting a child and what you can do instead.
- The risk of toxoplasmosis, a parasite that is transferred from infected cats to people through fecal-oral transmission. A cat that is carrying toxoplasmosis can pass eggs in her stool, and if a pregnant woman ingests them, she can become infected. While the illness is usually not a concern for healthy people or cats, it is known to result in birth defects, miscarriage, and stillbirth of babies. However, there are ways for an expectant mom to protect herself and her child from becoming infected.
- Abstain from cleaning the litter box while pregnant if possible.
- Always wash your hands before eating.
- If you must clean the litter box while you are pregnant, do so at least daily while using gloves. It takes one to three days for toxoplasma eggs to become infective once they are out of the cat’s body, so getting rid of the stool often greatly decreases a woman’s risk of being infected.
- Take care to use gloves when gardening because outdoor cats may use garden dirt as a litter box.
- Undercooked meat can transmit toxoplasmosis. Eating meat only when it has been well-cooked and wearing gloves while preparing raw meat are important ways for pregnant women to avoid the infection.
- Thoroughly wash and/or peel fruits and vegetables before ingestion because the skins may have toxoplasma eggs on them from contact with infected soil.
- Keep your cat inside to lower her exposure to toxoplasmosis while you are pregnant. Don’t get a new cat while you are expecting, and limit your contact with strays and outdoor cats that might be more likely to have a new toxoplasmosis infection than your indoor cat.
- Stay away from children’s sandboxes, which are often used as litter boxes by outdoor cats.
- Don’t feed your cat a raw food diet while you are pregnant. This is a way in which your cat may contract toxoplasmosis and then shed eggs which may be infective to you.
You can learn more about toxoplasmosis and how to avoid contracting it during pregnancy here: http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/pregnant.html.
The best way to ensure that your child’s relationship with your cat is safe and mutually beneficial is to be proactive about it. Don’t wait until there is a negative incident between them to intervene: set them up for successful interactions from the beginning. Here are some things to do before your baby is born:
Once the Baby Comes, Continue Your Cat-Satisfying Strategies
When the baby is born, concentrate on keeping things as normal as possible for your cat. This is why you did all the prep work that you did ahead of time: so you could relax and focus on caring for your baby while ensuring that your cat gets what she needs as well. Here are some things to remember:
- When you first arrive home, greet your cat without the baby first. If at all possible, give your cat a few moments of quiet time alone before you bring the baby in for the first time. This will reinforce for your cat that your relationship with her is still important to you.
- Place a used blanket or item of clothing from the baby in a quiet spot so your cat can sniff it at her leisure. You can even have a partner or friend do this before you bring the baby home if possible. This is a nice, low-pressure way for your cat to get used to the idea of the new little person before actually having to deal with the sounds, smells, and hub-bub.
- Keep your baby safe when you aren’t with him or her. Cats like to curl up with warm things, especially humans. However, newborns can’t move themselves and could be injured or even suffocated by a well-meaning cat. Your cat should not have access to your baby unless you are present. Close your cat out of the room in which your baby is sleeping or use a crib tent if necessary.
- Keep your cat out of your baby’s crib at all times. Your cat definitely shouldn’t be in the crib while your baby is in it, but she should stay out when it’s empty, too. This will keep cat litter and other offensive substances out of your child’s sleeping area, decreasing the chances of disease transmission.
- Give your cat some time alone. When you can, be sure to spend quality time with your cat. Though things are sure to be hectic with a new baby in the house, try to spare five minutes as often as you can to pet, groom, and play with your feline friend. It’s especially helpful to be sure that she gets time to get her energy out: playing with cat toys that mimic prey behavior can help her release any pent-up stress she might be having about the household’s changes.
Spending a little time considering the new baby from your cat’s point of view, preparing some ways to help her through the transition, and planning for your baby’s safety can help you return to the excitement of expecting a new little one while fostering your relationship with your cat.
Check out our article, «Cats and Kids: Nurturing a Safe Relationship» for tips on how to keep your child and your cat safe as your baby grows out of the newborn stage.
- Ownby DR, J. C. (2002, Aug. 28). Exposure to dogs and cats in the first year of life and risk of allergic sensitization at 6 to 7 years of age. Retrieved from pubmed.gov: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12190366
Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at PurrfectPost.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.