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Is It Safe to Raise Babies with Cats?

Is It Safe to Raise Babies with Cats?

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The facts are very clear – at any given moment, millions of people all over the world lead happy, loving and harmonious lives with both cats and pregnancies/babies in different stages of development.

These are people who have overcome their irrational fears and realized that there is absolutely no need to give away their best friend – their cat – even when they are about to have a child.

On the contrary, there is no one like a cat – who has been the parents’ faithful companion (either separately or together) for many years and has done so with a lot of positive energies and total acceptance – to serve as the parents’ closest friend, even in times of stress and fear, which are common in those who are expecting their first baby.

The cat, who accepts you for who you are, will be there for you at this important time in your life, if you open up your heart to all the great things it can give you.

In addition, it is very clear that children who grow up with cats know how to take responsibility and live with another wonderful soul – a great preparation for another sibling and for life in general.

Such children learn how to respect others – in this case, the cat – learn about their needs and not force themselves upon them. The cat, if allowed to communicate regularly with the baby and later with the child, will do it in a pleasant, gentle, considerate and loving way.

There is absolutely no reason – mental of physical – not to raise babies with cats. A cat will never hurt a baby or a child!

Is It Safe to Raise Babies with Cats?
Image Credit: Hannah Smith, Catsel

Cats pose no threat of any kind. They never did and never will do anything that would put a baby or a child in life-threatening danger.

In fact, the most dangerous animal for babies and children is man, but we do not keep our children away from other human beings. Instead we explain, teach, educate and help our children to deal with them in the best way possible. And so our children grow up to be healthy human beings, both physically and mentally.

Many researches have proven that babies who grow up in the vicinity of cats are actually more immune to respiratory diseases than those who do not. Being around cats makes babies more immune to allergies, too.

Cats actually view a new baby as a loud and smelly intruder, and so will be more than happy to keep their distance from it and go about their business after an initial curious sniffing, so just let them do that.

When the baby starts crawling, the cat will become more interested in it, but by then the cat will already know what a baby is, and the baby will also understand when it does something that is unpleasant for the cat.

So, if there is nothing to worry about and all those fears are only based on old superstitions, why are people so anxious about having a cat once there is a baby on the way?

Is It Safe to Raise Babies with Cats?
Let your baby play with your cat

The truth about Toxoplasmosis

One of the biggest fears that pregnant women have with regard to raising cats is the parasite called toxoplasmosis.

Below you will find all the explanations required to completely defuse these fears:

Knowledge is what’s required to defuse fears that stem from ignorance, and there is a great amount of ignorance even among physicians who are not veterinarians. So pay attention and know your facts.

Toxoplasma is a parasite whose host is very rarely a cat.

The cats get the parasite from eating contaminated raw meat (game) or contaminated soil. Therefore, only cats that go outside and hunt rodents or birds, or cats whose owners feed them raw meat, can get this parasite. And only on the first time that the cat gets the parasite can it transmit it further.

Only when the disease is active – when the parasite is secreted in the cat’s feces – can it be infectious. The parasite in the feces becomes contagious 24 hours after it has been secreted and then it lasts for about 5 days. After five days the cyst that contains the parasite breaks.

Toxoplasmosis can infect human beings. Being infected with the parasite is common, but developing the disease is very rare. Most people just develop antibodies against this parasite.

Being infected with toxoplasmosis is most dangerous during the first trimester of the pregnancy, in which stage becoming infected may cause miscarriages and birth defects.

Becoming infected with toxoplasmosis can only happen if one swallows the cyst, in one of two ways:

  • The most common way is eating raw meat or undercooked meat which has been contaminated with the parasite. This usually occurs when eating in restaurants where the quality of food and its preparation are poor or when buying problematic meat to prepare at home. Both have nothing to do with cats, of course.
  • Another way is having direct contact with feces that contain the parasite (and swallowing the cyst).

Only if the cat serves as a host to this parasite and only if there is direct contact with its feces is there a chance of infection, but it is a very rare chance. The solution is that pregnant women clean the litter box using gloves or let someone else clean it. And of course, regular hand washing.

As we were saying, a very high percentage of people are carriers, meaning that they have antibodies. A woman who has antibodies will not develop this disease. A simple blood test will be able to determine whether the cat or the women are carriers of this parasite.

Even if the tests show that the cat serves as a host to this parasite, the following recommendations will protect the baby from any risk. And remember that even if the risk exists, the time we are talking about here is only a short period within the first trimester.

How can you avoid becoming infected with Toxoplasmosis?

Here is a summary of the recommendations:

  1. Pregnant women are advised not to come into contact with the litter box. Somebody else should clean it during this time.
  2. It is important to clean the litter box once a day at least. (Twice is better, also for the cat’s benefit).
  3. When working in the garden – wear gloves.
  4. Maintain proper hygiene – wash vegetables before eating them, wash your hands before you eat.
  5. Eat only well-done meat.

So as you can see, there is absolutely no reason to remove the cat from the house during the pregnancy.

Is It Safe to Raise Babies with Cats?
This parasite can be transmitted through contaminated food, water or cat feces