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Myth 2: Your cat hates your baby
The rumor that Dr. Brazelton helped repopularize goes like this: Families with infants should get rid of their cats because the animals will harm the baby by sucking its breath or lying on it and smothering it.
But experts say this tale probably began because cats, attracted to soft, warm bedding, probably curled up near babies who died from other causes. Because they were found near the babies, the cats got the blame for the death.
“I tell my clients that millions of women for thousands of years have had healthy babies and lived with cats,” says feline veterinary specialist Elaine Wexler-Mitchell of Orange, Calif. “I think the only danger of a cat around a baby is that cats like to snuggle next to warm things in small areas, and a cat will not know if this position is dangerous for the baby.”
She advises keeping cats out of the room where the baby sleeps. If the cat is used to spending time in that room, start restricting its access at least a month before delivery, and don’t allow it to nap in the bassinet.
“Most cats stay away from babies, especially when the baby first comes home,” Wexler-Mitchell says. “They are scared of the crying and the changes in the home environment."
She recommends letting interaction between cat and baby occur naturally, under supervision. Never leave babies unattended in the presence of cats or dogs, and give pets plenty of attention away from the baby so they don’t feel abandoned.