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Home > Cats > Does A Cat Recognize What a Human Baby Is? What Science Says

Does A Cat Recognize What a Human Baby Is? What Science Says

cat kissing new born baby

Cats and humans have a long history of cohabitation. This relationship has become so close that cats are often seen as part of the family. But let’s say you bring home a new baby. Does your cat know what a human baby is? Most likely not. However, your cat may recognize a baby as a new member of the household and be curious about it, even if it doesn’t recognize it as a baby per se. Let’s learn more.

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The Ability to Recognize Babies

Cats may be familiar with the idea of babies in the home, but they likely lack the ability to recognize a baby as something separate from adults. Cats rely mainly on their sense of sight and smell to identify objects, people, or animals. Babies look similar enough to adults that cats may not be able to differentiate between them. The logical conclusion is that cats may not even realize a baby’s presence in the home, they just recognize it as a new person in the household.

cat smelling the newborn baby's feet
Image Credit: Sergey Chirkov, Shutterstock

The Role of Scents and Sights

Cats are able to recognize people by their scent, but babies’ scents are still new and foreign to them. Additionally, cats rely on sight as well as smell to identify objects. Babies look different from adults due to their smaller size and different facial features, but many cats may not be able to recognize these differences. However, they may have a sense to be more careful around this new object just because their natural cautious but curious personalities take over. They will become more familiar with the baby as it grows up and know that it belongs in the household just like the other people do.

Can Cats and Babies Coexist Peacefully?

Though cats may not understand what a baby is, they can still form positive relationships with babies. Cats often enjoy the extra attention that comes from playing with babies or lounging around them. With proper supervision, cats and babies can learn how to coexist peacefully.

Myths About Cats and Babies

There are many myths about cats and babies, including that cats may smother a baby or suck the breath from them. Of course, this is not true, as cats generally do not understand what babies are or how to interact with them, but they can read cues from babies the same way they can with adults. With proper supervision, however, cats can learn to be gentle around babies and create positive relationships with them.

little baby with cat
Image Credit: MAGDALENA SZACHOWSKA, Shutterstock

Do Cats Know When Their Owners Are Pregnant?

It is unlikely that cats know their owners are pregnant, as cats do not understand the concept of pregnancy. Cats may also be unable to detect any physical changes in their owners, as they rely mainly on sight and smell to identify objects or people. The only difference they may notice is changes in scent, as the hormones in a woman’s body that are produced in higher levels during pregnancy may cause your natural scent that your cat is familiar with to change.

A Word About Owning Cats During Pregnancy

Though cats may not recognize their owners’ pregnancy, they can still be a great companion during this time. With proper supervision, cats can safely coexist with pregnant women and babies. Additionally, cats can provide emotional support to their owners during this special time in life. Just make sure not to scoop any litter boxes while pregnant, as cats may carry toxoplasmosis in their feces which can cause serious health problems in developing fetuses1.

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Other FAQs About Cats and Babies

Q: Does having a baby stress out a cat?

A: It depends. Cats may feel a bit overwhelmed or stressed when a baby is first introduced to the home, as they are not used to these new sights and sounds. Over time though, cats can learn to adjust as they get used to the new presence in the home.

cat getting ready to pounce
Image Credit: Gundula Vogel, Pixabay

Q: How can I help soothe a stressed-out cat?

A: Offer your cat its favorite treats or toys, create a safe and comfortable space for it away from the baby, and spend some quality time with your cat each day. Additionally, try to keep the same routine as much as possible and consider using calming products designed specifically for cats.

Q: How can I help my cat adjust to a baby in the home?

A: Make sure you introduce your cat gradually to the baby, providing plenty of positive reinforcement. Give your cat their own special place to retreat and provide them with extra attention and playtime. Most importantly, always supervise interactions between cats and babies.

Q: Are there any safety measures I should take when introducing a cat to a baby?

A: Always supervise interactions between cats and babies, as kittens may bite or scratch out of curiosity. Additionally, keep the litter box away from areas that the baby frequents.

Cat tray with crystal litter and scoop on floor near light blue wall
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Q: Are there any benefits to having a cat in the home with a baby?

A: Yes. Having a cat in the home can help babies learn about animals and teach them kindness. Additionally, cats can provide companionship and comfort to children as they grow older, as well as teach responsibility. Finally, having cats can also reduce stress levels in both children and adults.

Q: Is there anything else I should know about cats and babies?

A: Be sure to provide your cat with plenty of love, attention, and kindness to help them adjust to the presence of a baby in their home. Additionally, be sure to teach your children how to interact safely and respectfully with cats so that everyone can benefit from positive relationships.

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Conclusion

Though cats may not recognize a baby as something separate from an adult, they can still form positive relationships with them. With proper supervision, cats and babies can live in harmony together. Cats rely mainly on their sense of sight and smell to identify objects and people, so the differences between a baby and an adult may be too subtle for cats to notice. But over time, cats will learn to coexist with a baby peacefully.


Featured Image Credit: Julieta Fotografia, Shutterstock

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