Before David was born, nearly everyone warned us that we’d treat the cats differently when we had a real baby. We were warned to make sure we put a cat-net on the cot, that we shouldn’t allow them to sleep in the same room as him, that we’d have to be extra-cautious about sterilizing everything. Our midwife was horrified that we weren’t “getting rid” of them.
Well, we’ve never really been bothered about germs. The cat-net on the cot lasted for the five minutes before Snowball worked out how to remove it, we let the cats back into the bedroom after ten minutes on the first night home from hospital, and the ten-second rule applies to everything that touches the floor in this house. Joe goes by the mantra “if it hasn’t got cat hair on it, it’s probably OK.” Snowball is fed on the side in the kitchen, otherwise the boys jump on her, and we keep a litter tray in the kitchen, too. We clean the side and the floor pretty regularly, and make sure we disinfect the side before preparing food (which, to be honest, I’d do anyway.) There is a frequent exchange of toys, especially balls, between cats and baby: we just make sure that none of the cat toys are a choking hazard, as they’re pretty much guaranteed to end up in someone’s mouth.
Now, I know that there’s a school of thought that says you should keep pets, especially cats, away from children whilst they sleep. We never had a problem with Snowball or Wily sleeping in the Moses basket or the cot when David was tiny, although there were occasions where Snowball would sleep next to David on the sofa. They still don’t really go near him, especially now that he’s big enough to chase them and pull their tails. Until this morning, Eric hadn’t shown any interest in sleeping in the cot, either.
I caught him there when I went to collect David from his nap. Well, he’s certainly showing interest now. It’s in a nice, warm spot, and the duvet is soft and comfortable. There are snuggly soft toys, including Mini-Eric. It’s not easily David-accessible unless we put him there, and Snowball and Wily have never slept there or marked it.
You know what? I’m not going to bow down to pressure or paranoia on this one. The stories about cats smothering babies are clearly an old wives’ tale: no cat would ever go near those grabby hands. (Eric, certainly, would not sleep within reach of David.). David, meanwhile, is clearly benefitting from growing up so close to these three beautiful creatures: he is mostly very gentle, and he can now say “puss!” and “miaow”. I want him to wake up to a cat sleeping on the end of his bed, like I did with Jenny and Charlie. One of the reasons that we got Eric when we did was that so he and David could grow up side-by-side, and I’m so very glad they are.