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Little Creatures: Can Cats and Babies Co-Exist?

Updated: 6 days ago

Close up of cat muzzle

I spent a lot of time whilst pregnant worrying excessively about our two cats. How would they cope with the baby? Would I be able to give them the time and attention that they were used to receiving from me? Would they leave and find a new home? 

That fateful day we brought B back from the hospital, he gave a tremendous cry during a nappy change. Instantly, one of our cats, Agatha, was prowling around him, jumping up onto the nappy table with huge pupils, her tail swishing. She was intent on investigating B intensely. This was stressful for both me and my husband. I quickly made a decision. I would hold Agatha and keep her from getting too close to B and I encouraged my husband to trust me that I could manage her while he continued with the nappy change.

This meeting needed to be calm and gentle, even if our cat was in distress. This first introduction would be the beginning of a long relationship, and we needed it to start in the way we wanted it to continue. If Agatha felt threatened by B’s arrival we would be setting ourselves up for a conflict that Agatha would not win. And so I petted and cuddled her whilst B’s needs were met.

After this, we decided not to ban the cats from B’s room, but under no circumstances did we leave B alone with them. We made a point of fussing over and petting Agatha when she came into his room, once B’s needs were met. She’s a jealous and slightly anxious little thing, a rescue cat who was abandoned as a kitten into the ice of a snowy February. 

The other cat, Dora, was not seen for the better part of two weeks; she came inside only for breakfast and dinner. It took her some time to realise that B was not a temporary visitor; she was going to have to get used to him. Slowly she started padding around the kitchen and eventually returned to her comfort spots once more.

To our great relief, the cats began to accept B’s territory and respect it. The wide-eyed investigative sniffing was not repeated. In fact, it became vastly clear that neither of our cats had any interest in B at all, but instead made it clear that they wanted to spend time with us for the usual cuddles and comfort. 

I slowly realised that the relationship between a cat and her human is very different to a mother and her baby. My cats remained a considerable source of comfort and affection, but retained their own sense of independence and individuality.

Cats are driven by fairly simple instincts, such as food and warmth, but they are able to seek out and achieve these aims more independently than babies. Our cats choose and continue to choose to greet me when I get home and to cuddle up on my lap during quiet moments. This freedom of choice is a great act of love, given how stressful the environment had become for them. It gave me a reassuring sense of normality, when a lot of things had been turned upside down in the early days of parenthood.

We’ve had no altercations between cat and baby so far, but we never leave B alone with them. Now B is six months old, he is much more aware of his surroundings, and has taken a great interest in them. He loves watching them and has begun to smile at them and reach for their fur. I have taken this opportunity for him to watch me pet and cuddle them. It’s good for him to understand that my attention can be divided without loving him any less.

My relationship with my cats has a different, but nevertheless highly valuable, dimension in comparison to the mother-child relationship. It was such a relief to realise that comforting all the little creatures in my home was not only possible, but a pleasure. Thank goodness there is no such thing as a limit to love.

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