Q: I have the sweetest, most loving cat. She is five years old and lives indoors. I will be babysitting my newborn granddaughter, and my daughter wants me to get rid of my cat. Is that necessary?
A: The old wives’ tale that families with infants should get rid of their cats because the cat will harm the baby still persists, unfortunately. It’s simply not true that a cat will suck a baby’s breath because it’s attracted to the scent of milk or that it will lie on a baby and accidentally smother him or her. Millions of women have lived with cats for thousands of years without their babies coming to harm.
We think the myth about cats being harmful to babies probably got started because cats may have been found snuggled next to babies who died from other causes, and the cats received the blame.
You should be able to take some steps that will allow you to keep your cat while protecting your baby granddaughter — and keeping your daughter happy.
First, keep your cat out of the room where the baby sleeps. Don’t allow the cat to nap in the bassinet, even if the baby isn’t in it.
You may find that your cat stays away from the baby on its own. The crying, cooing and other noises that babies make may scare your cat away. If your cat does show interest in the baby, let them interact only while you’re holding the baby.
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