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Do Cats Know Babies Are Babies?

Some cat owners have noticed that their cats are extra precautious when around human babies. They often claim that their fur-babies understand what a human baby is and that they know to be gentle when dealing with them. Although it may seem like our cats can tell the difference, every now and again, it’s not so clear.

Do cats know babies are babies? It is not entirely clear whether cats understand that human babies are babies, but they are shown to react to a baby’s cries and are more patient with them compared to adults. While patience is somewhat explainable, cats are often seen cuddling babies. This may seem to nurture in nature, but cats seek warmth, and babies are great providers.

There may not be outstanding proof that cats can identify human babies, but there is enough evidence to show that there is some type of recognition. Comprehending the mind of a cat is quite perplexing; hopefully, their thought process is easier explained than observed.

Can Cats Recognize Babies?

We all know that cats and babies can co-exist without complications within the same family. Even so, it is hard to determine their initial reaction or their thoughts on the matter when introducing a new baby to the family feline. With a large number of myths surrounding babies and cats, it is no surprise that some may doubt their ability to recognize what a baby is.

The myths also support the idea that cats recognize what a baby is, except it is with a negative connotation rather than a positive. Cats are thought to be able to suck out a baby’s breath while in their crib or suffocate the baby intentionally. These are simply old superstitions that have been passed down over the years and are not necessarily true.

Cats are attracted by the warmth and comfort that babies often have. They are frequently surrounded by soft fabric and emit a subtle heat that a cat finds comforting for nap time. So, when a cat is sleeping with a baby, they are not stealing the baby’s breath, they are using them for their warmth. It is still dangerous to leave them unattended in the crib together as the cat may unintentionally cover the baby’s face with their fur.

Owners have also often noted that their cat seems to have more patience with a baby than they do with others. That the cat has more tolerance for the baby’s behavior. This may be caused by the cat’s familiarity with youth and learning, or it may only be testing the knowledge of the little creature (baby) in front of it.

Cats And Crying

Although other signs that cats can recognize what a baby is are mainly reported by owners or occasionally observed, it has been shown that mammals recognize other mammals cries. This includes the domesticated cats we keep in our homes. It’s an instinctive response that happens at the sound of a baby crying.

Cats will inspect and sometimes rush to aid a crying and distressed baby. Just as humans can tell when their cat is distressed or hurt. This primal response shows that cats can recognize an infant, if only on the most basic of levels.

The recognition does not stop at infants crying; it extends further into other types of distress signals and simple communication triggers. The levels of recognition vary depending on the pitch of the sound and the volume. Infant crying is just the easiest to recognize and is the most prominent among all mammals.

Understanding what a baby is may come and go depending on the situation, but they have an innate ability to identify the different sounds With this in mind, it is safe to say that cats can recognize that a baby is a baby – if even only a little bit.

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Image by Alex Danov from Pixabay

Safe For Baby?

It has been determined. Cats can understand a baby’s cry and know the difference between a baby and an adult. Does that necessarily mean that cats are safe to keep around a newborn? Or that we shouldn’t be cautious about introducing our cats to newborns or vice versa? Not really.

Cats are unpredictable and startle and scare easily. One sudden movement or noise from the baby can lead to unwanted scratches and possible bites. Lots of germs are found on cat claws and teeth and can create infections from wounds.

Additionally, cats can cause diseases in an infant as they are more susceptible and have a weaker immune system. They can catch or suffer from:

  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Giardia
  • Cryptosporidium
  • Cat Scratch Fever
  • Toxocariasis

Or they can suffer from symptoms caused by these infections without having a full breakout. These can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Itching
  • Rash

Most can be prevented by keeping a watchful eye on the baby and the cat when they are within the same area. Keep the cat from rubbing on the baby and prevent the baby from grabbing at the cat. Also, make sure the baby does not go after cat toys, food, or attempt to mess with the litter box as this is the main source of bacteria and germs.

Safely Introducing Babies And Cats

Introducing a cat to a baby is very similar to introducing a cat to another cat, or a cat to a dog. Keep in mind that the cat was (most likely) here first and has never been exposed to infants. They have been exposed to adults, and even then, depending on how social the owner is, they may have only met a few.

Babies are noisy and small, and they also smell completely different compared to an adult. Babies make high pitched noises, even when they are not crying and will look very odd from a cat’s perspective because they are fully within the cat’s line of sight.

The best method involves preparation months before the baby actually arrives. Make gradual changes, especially if the nursery is a room they were previously allowed into and now are restricted from. Let them investigate the new things so that they don’t feel left out and excluded. They will most likely attempt to sleep on the crib or bassinet mattress when you’re not paying attention, so it may be necessary to invest in a plastic carpet protector to place nub side up to shoo them away.

Give them a small warning of the future noises to come. Find a recording of a baby crying or record a baby crying and play in at random times of the day. Their initial reaction is often different from cat to cat, but when the cat investigates the sound or acts calm, reward with them praise.

Don’t Get Rid Of Your Cat

There is no need to get rid of your cat if you’re expecting a baby, you only need to prepare and understand their interactions properly. They may not know what they are exactly; the cat may not know that the baby is a baby, and the baby may not notice the cat is a cat. You are the mediator and should provide the in-between.

Reward the cat with praise or treats when they respond calmly to the baby or they react in with a nurturing response. Introduce the scents before the baby is born. Don’t stop once the baby is here; keep it going. Train the cat to recognize a baby versus an adult, and it will help with the current child and with any future children you may have.

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