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Cats and children: 5 myths to dispel
On the Internet there are many clichés on cats and children living together. Here are 5 deep-rooted prejudices.
There are deep-rooted myths, especially on the web, on the fact that cats are dangerous to newborns. Yet, keeping a cat is a wonderful opportunity for everyone. Here are a few prejudices on cats and children living together.
Cats cause dangerous diseases to children
Despite widespread concern, there are only few zoonotic diseases that cats can transmit to humans (first of all toxoplasmosis, which is very dangerous for pregnant women who are not immune, but extremely difficult to contract from a domestic cat). Diseases such as feline AIDS (FIV), feline leukemia (FeLV), the Herpesvirus and infectious rhinotracheitis only affect cats, and therefore are not dangerous for people. The most widespread zoonotic disease is probably the so-called “cat scratch disease”, or inoculation lymphoreticulosis, which can be prevented by disinfecting any scratches or bites and by washing hands thoroughly after being licked by a cat. A healthy baby that is not immunocompromised or that is not undergoing a particularly weakening drug therapy such as chemotherapy, can therefore live with one or more cats without problems. To avoid risks it is sufficient to meet the most elementary hygiene standards and that the feline have regular veterinary check-ups and prophylaxis, especially against worms and external parasites. Even in case children are at risk, they can live together with cats, as long as the family carefully follows the veterinarian recommendations.
Cats suffocate sleeping babies
Cats usually like soft and warm places (and who could blame them after all). The cradle of an infant, raised off the ground and with its rounded shape, can be very inviting for domestic cats, that on the other hand will probably be discouraged and intimidated by the newborn’s wailings. To avoid any risk of accidental suffocation, in any case, it is sufficient not to leave cats alone with very young children.
Cats cause allergies
People are allergic to cat fur no matter if they live with a cat. The presence of cats doesn’t cause allergy, it only determines the onset of symptoms. On the contrary, many studies demonstrate that living with a cat (or a dog) can contribute to reducing the odds of developing allergies or respiratory problems.
Inhaling cat’s fur can cause serious damage
On the Internet there are many legends on the serious – or even death – damages caused to children by the accidental inhalation of cat’s fur. Actually, the only real problem caused by cat’s fur, dandruff or saliva in susceptible individuals, either children or adults, is allergy (see above). In case of allergic reactions, it is essential to consult a doctor or a specialist, consider a drug therapy and the adoption of special measures in everyday life (such as to ban the animal from the bedroom). Only in particularly critical situations and after excluding alternatives with the doctor and veterinarian, you can consider the possibility of giving the cat away.
Cats are jealous of children
The arrival of a newborn is certainly a major change for a cat that has been loved and pampered by its human “parents” so far. It is normal that cats mistrust the new arrival. The important thing is to not prevent your cat from doing its usual activities and not to exclude it from the child’s life. Rather, allow it to get close to the child and their objects, and devote time and care to your cat too. It can be useful to let your cat sniff one of your baby’s play suits or blanket before the feline meets the baby. Starting off on the right foot can help them to build a beautiful and long-lasting friendship.
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