Are there any precautions my daughter can or should take regarding the cats not injuring the baby?
— M.J.L., Baltimore
Dear M.J.L.: Most cats are gentle, curious and often affectionate with human infants. Some may show fear and run away, or approach with evident concern in response to an infant’s crying. Generally, cats habituate quickly to these distress calls, which are not unlike their own.
Cats have been blamed for smothering babies in their cribs — the old myth is that they are trying to suck the milk out of the babies’ mouths. Cats may lick regurgitated milk, but crib deaths are more likely attributable to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or to the baby being placed in the wrong sleeping position. Still, a large cat could lie across the baby’s head or face and restrict breathing.
A baby placed face-up will flail hands and feet, which might get scratched by a playful cat. Your daughter should place a net over the crib to keep the cats out. She should have the cats checked for toxoplasmosis and ringworm. Get rid of any pediatrician who advises her to get rid of the cats.
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