The Baby Killer Cat
A widespread myth claims that a cat may lie on a baby and involuntarily cause his death by suffocating. Unfortunately, even healthcare professionals sometimes relay such a message. For instance, during the pregnancy of one of our own Cat Educator, a nurse strongly advised her to get rid of her cat because of this belief. Our Educator tried to convince said nurse of the groundlessness of her conviction, explaining to her that Cat Educator’s feline behavior specialists have refuted this myth. The nurse refused to admit to being in the wrong and probably keeps spreading this mistaken belief.
We have conducted our own study, in addition to having sorted through numerous articles, pediatric charts, and autopsy reports published on the subject in order to find cases of babies deceased from suffocation caused by a cat. We found only one case in North America, in Connecticut in 1932. However, at the time, sudden infant death syndrome was still unknown. Was the cat really implicated in this case? The baby killer cat myth has almost disappeared at the turn of the 21st century, but, sadly, a greedy newspaper helped resuscitate it by printing on its front-page that a baby had died of a cat-caused suffocation. Obviously, the autopsy report stating that the baby’s death had rather been caused by sudden infant death syndrome did not make front-page, but rather ended on page 27, in the bottom left corner.
A Persistent Myth
Cats love baby cribs: they are warm and cozy. Moreover, they are often the center of attention of the family members and visitors, and its odors are especially fascinating to discover. In fact, it is not rare to see a cat licking a young child’s lips when they are covered in dried milk.
However, even if your cat had the occasion to share your baby’s crib, he would not lie on him or her. It is even rather unlikely that he would cuddle against the child (and that’s for the best).
My Child and Allergies
Studies* show that a baby who is exposed to a cat during his first year sees his chances of suffering from allergies decrease by 50%, and that’s for ALL ALLERGIES, not only cat allergies. Moreover, this baby will have a 75% lower risk to suffer from animal allergies and 98% lower risk to become allergic to the cat with which he shared his bed.
Isn’t this good news? So, do not hesitate to share this with your relatives so that we may all, together, put an end to this myth that causes the euthanasia of several cats each year.
* The data comes from several studies, including the one published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, no. 28, by the Henry Ford Hospital.