Pet Peeves: Jealous of the Baby

Advice for Cat Owners

Kitty City

Cats tend to adjust more easily to kids than dogs. The reason? Felines don't form the same kind of social attachment to humans that canines do, says Driscoll. They're more likely to hide than get resentful. But there are a few issues cat lovers need to address.

Your first consideration? The litter box. Cat waste is hazardous to pregnant women because it can carry the bacteria that causes toxoplasmosis, an illness that may result in miscarriage, or damage a newborn baby's eyes or brain. Relegate cat cleanup to your partner.

Cats are also agile enough to reach any nook or cranny and curious enough to poke their whiskery noses into everything, such as your baby's crib or bassinet. Set baby's bed up early so the cat can give it a sniff (and grow bored with it) long before baby arrives. If you catch your cat settling in for a snooze, say "No!" firmly and remove him from the area. If he's stubborn, make the crib inhospitable by covering it with a mesh crib tent sold at many baby stores.

What happens if your cat scratches your child? It's unlikely that this will happen to a newborn, but a curious toddler might be the victim of a swipe or two. Some scratches cause an illness called cat-scratch disease, which is marked by small pimples near the sight of the scratch. Prevent this by teaching your child to be gentle to your cat and to let the cat be if he's eating or sleeping.

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