Cats. They can steal the oxygen from your baby’s lungs — and perhaps her soul, too. Or can they? If you have never had the pleasure of welcoming a cat into your home, you may have heard a few false accusations against your potential feline friend. Some even sound legit, so pregnant women or families with a newborn may feel even more concerned about bringing a cat home. But here are five cat myths debunked by facts to help you make a more informed decision.
1. Housecats Harm Unborn Babies
According to WebMD, pregnant women often give up their cats due to a perceived threat to their unborn children. They believe that their housecat can infect them with toxoplasmosis, a dangerous parasite that can have serious effects on an unborn baby. Cats can pick up this parasite from hunting mice and birds.
For this exact reason, the housecat kept indoors poses no risk to mothers. Keep kitty indoors at least until the baby is born and refrain from interacting with strays and outdoor cats.
But wait! Can’t cats suffocate a baby…?
2. Cats Will Steal Your Oxygen
Many people have an irrational fear of cats, especially black cats. They shudder as they talk of a hypothetical feline stealing their oxygen while they sleep — or even worse, a baby’s.
Becky Robinson, the president and founder of Alley Cat Allies, tells Parentology this suspicion is false. She does caution, “Just as you don’t want to place blankets or stuffed animals in an infant’s crib, you’ll want to keep kitty out of the crib when [your] baby is sleeping, especially when the baby isn’t able to roll-over or crawl.”
Fun Fact: Cats are known to protect babies. Check out the video…
3. Cats Never Protect Babies
Don’t underestimate the protective instincts of a determined cat. In 2014, BBC shared the story of a young boy who was pulled off his bicycle and dragged along the driveway by a dog. The family cat then came out of nowhere and chased the aggressive dog away.
Families should not overestimate the loyalty of dogs, either. According to UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, in 77% of dog bite attacks, the dog belongs to the victim’s family, a relative or a friend of the family. Remember that every animal is different, which is why we have a guide for choosing the right dog breed for your new family.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, the aforementioned video of a cat saving a toddler from a dog.
Yes, but about allergies…?
4. Cats Cause Allergies
WebMD estimates that 80% of people allergic to cats did not grow up with one at home.
“Studies actually show that children who have cats growing up develop fewer allergies when they get older,” Robinson says. “Baby is developing their immune system and being around cats at a young age can help. Do consult your pediatrician if baby gets hives, [or] has a persistent runny nose or eyes.”
There are many ways to effectively address potential allergies while keeping your kitty at home.
Do you have to declaw the cat?
5. It Is Best to Declaw the Cat
Parents often believe declawing a cat is the best way to prevent scratching. Robinson is steadfast in her position against this.
“When you bring your baby home, never declaw your cat for any reason. Declawing is a painful amputation of the last bones on a cat’s toes, and causes psychological and physical harm,” she says. “You should be monitoring kitty and baby’s interactions. Be proactive in cat care and trim kitty’s nails weekly or use soft nail caps.”
Many people underestimate the bond babies and cats can develop with each other. While not all cats and babies will get along, the reason for the fall-out won’t come from the five cat myths debunked above.
5 Cat Myths Debunked — Sources
Becky Robinson, Alley Cat Allies
WebMD: Prepare Your Cat for Your New Baby
BBC: ‘Super Cat’ saves boy from dog attack in California – BBC News
UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh: Facts & Figures About Dog Attacks
WebMD: Pets May Prevent Allergies in Kids