Cats & Babies

As more and more cats become homeless, we investigate some of the reasons people give for parting with their pets  Cats are easy-going creatures, content to mind their own business and sleep for a large part of the day but equally happy to provide companionship when you really need it. Added to this, they are both independent and low maintenance, making them ideal pets for people in an increasingly stressful world. 


Why then, do so many people give up their cats when they have no need to do so? There are, of course, some situations in which owners have no other option but to part with their cats but, equally, there are instances in which this sad process is completely avoidable. 


One of Cats Protection's three core aims is to educate people about cats and their care - challenging misconceptions in order to ensure a brighter future for the nation's cats is a daily part of our work. With that in mind, let's tackle one of  the explanations people offer when unnecessarily giving up their cats...


Baby Blues !
One of the most frequent reasons people offer when giving up their cat and signing it into our care is the imminent arrival of a new baby and the family's concerns about the mum-to-be contracting toxoplasmosis.  For those unaware of exactly what this is, it is a micro-organism that can affect the foetus if a pregnant woman is infected with it. A recent survey of over 1,500 mothers or mums-to-be conducted by Cats Protection via netmums.co.uk found that almost seven out of 10 women admitted they were worried they could catch something from their pet while pregnant, while 50 per cent were concerned that their cat could pass on an illness to their newborn baby. However, a survey in the British Medical Journal concluded that contact with cats was not a risk factor. Kittens and young cats may become infected during their early days of hunting, during which they may catch and eat an infected rodent or bird. Even then, they only shed oocysts - infectious spores - in their faeces for a couple of weeks afterwards and these only become infective 24 hours after being passed.

Still not convinced? How about these two facts then? Statistically, cat owners are no more likely to get toxoplasmosis than non-cat owners and you are more likely to contract the disease from consuming raw meat or unwashed vegetables than from your cat. The lesson to be learned from this is simple; if you're expecting a baby, there's no need to get rid of your much-loved pet. Simply get someone else to deal with the litter tray or wear rubber gloves if nobody else is around and ensure that solids are removed on at least a daily basis and the already small risk is pretty much eliminated. While it is understandable that expectant parents have initial qualms about toxoplasmosis, there are sadly some ludicrous myths about cats and children that have somehow managed to stand the test of time. One of these old wives' tales is that our four-legged friends can somehow suck babies' breath away. Unsurprisingly, this one comes from the Middle Ages when cats were vilified by supposedly enlightened members of society who put them on trial alongside women who were just as ridiculously suspected of being witches.

To bury this twaddle once and for all, it is physically impossible for a cat to steal an infant's breath. Of course, it's basic common sense to ensure babies are safe - in the same way that you wouldn't want a large, untucked blanket in your child's cot, you wouldn't want anything else - including a well-meaning and affectionate cat - in there either. It is an owner's responsibility to decide where their cats are allowed to go but, once any no-go zones are established, it is important that cats know their boundaries. In fact, there are a great number of benefits to having a cat as part of your growing family and the experience can be very rewarding to youngsters. Studies have shown that children brought up with a feline friend generally grow up to be more affectionate and responsible and develop a better understanding of others' needs and feelings. There is also strong evidence to suggest that those who spend their childhood with a cat in the home are more likely to have a stronger immune system.

Through this article, you have been hopefully informed, and would take a second thought before separating yourself  from your beloved pet, and causing unnecessary heartbreak.