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.

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