Archives for September 2008

Will a cat suffocate a baby?

Above: Photo of baby and cat courtesy of the NobodyCallsMeThatBlog.

I recently got a call from HM (handsome man aka my significant other) because his pal’s wife had tossed the cats outside since they have a newborn. She was worried that the cats would hurt their newborn and he was wondering if that was a realistic threat.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated case of such behavior. Pregnancy forums spread rumors of cats suffocating babies and the risk of toxoplasmosis from cat litter boxes on a regular basis.

The problem is that people spread the rumors quickly without checking the facts.

Let me just be perfectly clear about the safety factor when it comes to kids and pets:

Infants and animals should never be left together unsupervised. This means that if you are not in the room or watching the infant–you should make sure the animals do not have access to that infant.

Over the years members of the feline race have been blamed for cases of crib death or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, I don’t know of any substantiation to back it up.

I found one reference to The Annual Register in January, 1791 cited at the Messy Beast where an eighteen month old was reported by the coroner “to have died “in consequence of a cat sucking its breath.”

Hmm, 1791 Plymouth–not the most sophisticated of times–and sucking its breath?


A more recent warning appeared in You and Your Cat by David Taylor (published in 1986).

The reality of the situation is that suffocation is a serious danger because infants are not coordinated nor strong enough to push an animal away if it climbs onto its face or chest.

To prevent such problems animals and kids should always be supervised. Simple steps? Close doors, temporarily install screen doors indoors, or use Baby Safety Netting or Baby Infant Stroller Crib Nets to keep critters out of the infant’s sleeping areas and their strollers.

Pet Hurricane Victims & Pet Rescue Books

Rescued: Saving Animals from Disaster is about thousands of frightened, starving animals whose owners were forced to leave without them. Interviews  many of the men and women who worked to rescue four-legged, finned, and feathered victims of Katrina.

Hurricane Katrina: Stories of Rescue, Recovery and Rebuilding in the Eye of the Storm looks at the hardships of being left with no power, no drinking water, dwindling food supplies, and steadily rising waters from major levee breaches, survivors also faced life-threatening looting and widespread fires. You’ll take a look at how people searched for loved ones and pets, and how thousands fought to survive the harshest of conditions and helped others do the same.

Ten True Animal Rescues is a book geared toward kids. Many people loved the hamster story where the tiny critter alerts his family to a fire but you’ll also find a dog rescue from ice, and a dolphin who intervenes when a shark attack seems imminent.

Animal Rescue: The Best Job There Is covers three stories of John Walsh the director of the World Society for the Protection of Animals. Includes stories of his work in the field such as rescuing dog from a building about to topple after an earthquake in Japan.  The WSPA is one of the few agencies that works doing animal disaster rescue on an international level.

Pawprints of Katrina: Pets Saved and Lessons Learned documents the work of the Best Friends animal rescue group.  The book is filled with stories of success and of loss and how people worked together to facilitate recovery for both the humans and animals.

Not Left Behind: Rescuing the Pets of New Orleans is the story of how Best Friends Animal Society as it rescued thousands of pets from the storm-ravaged, flooded streets of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This book is filled with images and the voices of five of Best Friends team of rescuers.

8 State Hurricane Kate is the story of Kate the cattle dog and her survival post-Katrina. Kate’s journey is a tale of love, courage, and compassion that is the dog’s legacy. Her life and story has sparked a rescue network that continues to help dogs across the country today.