Cat in the Crib
See also: Cats and Babies
Recently we have found our two cats sleeping in the crib. They haven't done it yet when our 5-month-old is in the crib. (One cat is still a bit spooked by her, while the other is friendly toward the baby.) I'm not particularly concerned about cats in the crib, but should I be? Are there any specific risks related to cats and babies, such as diseases or smothering? When we find a cat hanging out in the crib we take it out to discourage the behavior. Is there any method for keeping the cats out of the crib? Julia's mom
A pediatrician friend of mine said that the cats will smell the milk on a baby (maybe even the bedding?) and want to lick it, positioning themselves possibly on the chest to do so, which could smother. We have an old cat that wasn't interested in the baby at all, but given that your cats are getting into the crib, I do think you should be concerned. Unfortunately I don't have any advice on how to practically deal with the problem.
I am a local vet, and would say the main concern I would have about cats in the crib is if they sleep there with the child. They have a tendency to snuggle closely to warm things. A young infant that can't turn it's head might have trouble if the cat leaned very close to their face. Cats also sometimes lick milk remnants off the face of infants where I think the myth about cats suffocating children comes from. As for parasites, fleas from a cat might also bite a child. Cats usually are so cleanly that they do not leave any stool on their fur so internal parasite transfer would be unlikely. As for keeping them out of the crib, I would consider using one of the mesh tent crib tops that help keep children from climbing out.
A local vet
We too, had a cat (Siamese) who took an interest to sleeping in my daughter's crib, only she was in it too! Actually, he only did it once because I almost strangled him the first time. I woke one night to the baby screaming a scream I have never heard before. She was only about 4-6 months old (we had just started putting her in the crib), so I ran into her room only to find our Siamese sitting at her head. He had apparently begun playing with her very soft, wispy hair and left her with a scratch on her scalp. I was so distraught! From then on, he was locked in another room at night so he could not get into her room. I would strongly discourage your cats from sleeping in the crib, even when you baby is not there. Aside from fleas, dirt, worms (!! they frequently get them from fleas you know!), the cat may decide to crawl in sometime with the baby and you never know what might happen -- I never willingly let the cat in the crib and still she got scratched. Better safe than sorry!
Replace the door to your baby's room with a screen door. It will keep the cats out but you can still check on your baby whenever you need to.
Not to sound too blunt, but can't you just close the door to the room you have the crib in? If the child is in there, put a baby monitor in the room. I am not sure of any diseases the cat may carry, but it just does not seem hygenically correct.
As a somewhat experienced cat owner with a child, I would discourage the kitties from being in the crib. As sweet as that is, you never know when something could set off either the child or the cat, then scratches, screams, etc could ensue. We have always kept our cats out of our daughter's room (she's now 4) as much as they want to be in there, now mostly because they're disruptive. It's just a manner of closing the door so they can't get in, but I don't know what your situation is. Seems like our cats always migrate around the house to find a new favorite spot, so I'm sure yours will too.
I worry alittle bit about the cats in the crib of an infant because they are unable to move away and might have trouble breathing if the cat is smooshed up against them. Also, I worry about it being too much for a baby's immune system to cope with that much cat hair. I would suggest checking sfgate.com archives (the website for the SF Chronicle and Examiner) for a recent article in their pet column on how to keep cats away from particular places. I remember it had suggestions on sprays and other things to do (I would check the safety of sprays for your child before using). Also, how about netting over the crib when not in use? Or banning the cats from the baby's room? You could also ask your vet for suggestions. I do think you would be wise to keep the cats out of the baby's crib. Good luck
Our cats have always done that with my 16 month old and so far the worst problem we've had has been fleas; now that the weather is getting warmer he's getting bitten all over his little body. So we ''treated'' the cats with Advantage, kept them away from him for the requisite 24 hour period, and they've gone back to hanging out in there.
I recently saw something on tv about keeping pets off furniture that should help with the crib. Purchase a length of plastic carpet runner with the spikes on the bottom. Lay it in the crib with the spiky part up. It's uncomfortable for the cats to lay on and eventually they should get the hint and stay out of the crib.
Hmmm, kitties in the crib...much as I love cats, that doesn't sound safe for your baby. One solution is a crib tent -- kind of an airy mesh thing that attaches to the top of the crib. It's sold at BabyCenter http//store.babycenter.com/product/nursery/nursery_accessories/c rib_accessories/1444 Most people use it to keep toddlers in when they start climbing out in the middle of the night, but I've heard of people using it to exclude cats, too. Good luck!
If you are concerned about the cat in the crib, spray it with water when it sleeps there. It will get the message quickly.