Cats vs. Babies: That Old Rivalry

If you've ever sat through a viewing of Stephen King's "Cat's Eye," you know that cats don't actually climb into the beds of child actresses and suck their breath out -- you're thinking of tiny wall trolls.

Still, a great deal of concern persists among cat owners whenever there's a new baby in the household. Will the cat and the baby become fast friends, or will one try to eat the other? How's a person to be both a responsible parent and a decent pet owner?

According to an article from the Associated Press this week, the key is understanding how a cat reacts to the arrival of a newborn. Just think about the noises associated with a new baby. Think about all the curious new smells -- the utter chaos that a baby brings into a household.

This sort of ruckus will likely be keeping you up nights, so how do you think a cat will respond? You know, the creature that likes to sleep 20-plus hours a day and hides under the futon when it thunders? Cats tend to appreciate order and uniformity in life -- pretty much the opposite of a newborn.

To cope with all this, experts recommend gradually altering the cat's feeding schedule and human bonding times to mesh with the schedule imposed by the infant.

Then there's the whole crib issue. Cats sometimes gravitate toward these elevated, soft refuges because, well, they're elevated and soft. Plus, as points out, the baby's pretty warm and soft itself, meaning your cat may just decide the baby would make an excellent snuggle buddy. As this could potentially hamper an infant's breathing, you want to avoid this as well.

To prevent all this (as well as possible scratches and tail-pulling) you can simply keep the nursery door closed or invest in any number of tentlike covers to keep pets out of the crib.

Learn more about cats and babies at How Cat Shows Work How Pregnancy Works Do babies have kneecaps? Is it OK for babies to watch TV?

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.