Do cats protect babies

Do cats protect babies

In this Article

  • Why It’s Good for Your Baby’s Brain
  • Baby Talk Basics
  • At 1 to 3 months
  • At 4 to 7 months
  • At 8 to 12 months

You play “peek-a-boo” with your baby. You talk to them while you’re changing their diaper. You sing to them as you rock them to sleep. And when they happily coo, babble, and gurgle, you make those sounds right along with them.

It’s fun, but it’s also crucial to their development.

Their young brain is soaking up the sounds, tones, and language they’ll use to say their first words. You play a big role. Children who have parents who talk to them often tend to form stronger language and conversational skills than kids who don’t.

The best way to speak to your little one may be what comes most naturally: that sing-songy way many of us speak to infants — “How are youuu?!” “You want the baaaall?” It’s baby talk, and it can fuel your child’s language development.

Why It’s Good for Your Baby’s Brain

Infants tend to pay more attention and respond more eagerly to baby talk than to normal adult conversation. The playfully exaggerated and high-pitched tone your voice takes lights up your little one’s mind.

Eighty percent of their brain’s physical development happens during their first 3 years. As their brain gets bigger, it also forms the connections it needs to think, learn, and process information. These connections, called synapses, form at a super-fast rate, about 700 per second in the first few years.

Speaking to your baby fires up those important synapses in the part of their brain that handles language. The more words they hear, the stronger those mental connections get. That process can strengthen your child’s future language skills and their overall ability to learn.

Infants who get more baby talk know more words by age 2 than their peers.

Baby Talk Basics

For your little one to get the most benefits:

  • Talk with them often. Talkative parents tend to have talkative children.
  • Get some alone time with your infant. Baby talk is most beneficial when it’s one-on-one between parent and child, with no other adults or children around.
  • When your baby tries to talk back to you, don’t interrupt or look away. They needВ to know you care about listening to them.
  • Look your child in the eyes. They’ll respond better to speech when they are looking right at you.
  • Limit how much TV they seeВ and hear. Too much can stunt language growth. Besides, you’re more fun than the voice on the screen, right?
  • Throw in some grown-up speak, too. Your baby needs to hear how words sound in everyday conversation.

As your child develops and matures, so should the way you talk to them.

At 1 to 3 months

Your infant is communicating with you by cooing, making gurgling sounds and, of course, crying. They are also listening to you — they may smile, move their arms and legs, or coo when you speak to them a certain way.

  • Talk, sing, coo, babble, and play peek-a-boo with your child.
  • Narrate your activities. During baths, meals, or play, tell them what you’re doing and what they areВ looking at.
  • Read to your baby and talk about the pictures you see.
  • Celebrate, smile, and act excited when they makeВ sounds and smiles.
  • At around 2 months, babies start making vowel sounds (“ah-ah” or “oh-oh”). Mimic these sounds, and mix in some real words, too.
  • When they makeВ a sound, you should make the sound as well, and then wait for them to respond. This will teach them how to have a conversation.

At 4 to 7 months

They’ll start trying to copy sounds they hear. You’ll notice them exploring their own sounds and inflections. They may even raise or drop their voice as they tryВ to express their feelings.

  • Use the noises they makeВ to encourage words. If they sayВ “bah,” say “bottle” or “book.”
  • Expand your conversations. When talking, speak slowly and start stressing certain words. For example, hold a ball and say, “Do you want a ball? This is your ball.” Then be silent to encourage them to respond.
  • Introduce your baby to different objects. When they lookВ at something, point it out and tell them what it is.
  • Read to your child every day, especially colorful picture books and magazines. Name the pictures you see and praise your baby when they babbleВ along with you as you read.

At 8 to 12 months

They’ll start to understand certain words (like “no”) and say some, too (like “mama” or “dada”). By the time they are a year old, they’ll also understand certain commands, like “Wave bye-bye.”

  • Keep talking about what you and your baby are doing, looking at, or pointing to. If they pointВ to a car and sayВ “car,” say “Yes, that’s a red car.”
  • Name just about every object your child comes in contact with — a toy, spoon, milk, etc. Also start pointing out body parts — point to their arm and say, “arm,” and point to yours and say, “Daddy’s (or Mommy’s) arm.”
  • Help your child express in words what they are feeling.
  • Use positive statements to direct their behavior. Instead of saying “Don’t stand,” say “Time to sit.”
  • When you need to stop your child from doing something, say a firm “no.” Don’t yell or give long explanations.
  • Sing songs that have actions, like “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” Have fun acting out the song with your child.
  • Babies at this age love to imitate words they hear, so you might want to watch what you say, or you may hear it repeated.

All children learn to communicate at their own pace. Don’t worry too much if your baby isn’t talking as quickly as you’d thought they would. If you have real concerns, though, talk with their doctor about it.

Show Sources

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD): “Speech and Language Developmental Milestones.”

The LENA Foundation: The Power of Talk, 2nd Edition: Impact of Adult Talk, Conversational Turns, and TV During the Critical 0-4 Years of Child Development.

Risley, T.R. Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children.

Urban Child Institute: “Baby’s Brain Begins Now: Conception to Age Three.”

US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health: “Frontal cerebral blood flow change associated with infant‐directed speech.”

Harvard University’s Center of the Developing Child: “Five Numbers to Remember About Early Childhood Development.”

US National Library of Medicine/National Institutes of Health: “Frontal cerebral blood flow change associated with infant‐directed speech,” “Are you talking to me? Neural activations in 6-month-old infants in response to being addressed during natural interactions.”

News Release, University of Washington.

KidsHealth: “Communication and Your 1-to 3-Month-Old,” “Communication and Your 4-to 7-Month-Old,” “Communication and Your 8-to 12-Month-Old.”

Moon, C. Acta Pædiatrica, published online 2012.

Do cats recognize human infants? Sometimes you may question whether cats can distinguish between human adults and infants. The overwhelming answer indicates that they are aware of the distinction.

Are felines protective of their young? But mother cats are also protective of their offspring and the surrounding region. The mother must create a secure environment for her kittens, and any intruders are seen as dangers to her young.

How do cats respond to infants? It is usual for cats to be sensitive in their stomach and tail regions. If your cat dislikes being handled in certain places, you will need to be conscious of this as your baby grows more mobile, as infants may be overzealous in their desire to touch and stroke, which can easily upset your cat.

Why Do Cats Protect Babies – RELATED QUESTIONS

Why do cats behave like infants?

Its result may come as a surprise to some: Cats connect with their carers to the same extent as newborns and, yes, dogs. “Insecure cats may flee and hide or seem distant. There has long been the misconception that all cats act in this manner.

Do cats adore babies?

They adore the new family member as much as you do and want to cuddle with them; nevertheless, you should keep a watch on them. You cannot allow the cat to teach the infant poor manners, such as how to take over the world.

Do cats get envious of infants?

The jealousy may be generated by a variety of circumstances: When you devote more attention to an item, person, or another animal, cats may exhibit jealously. This is particularly true if you used to play with your cat at this period. It might be the addition of a newborn child or pet to the household.

Are cats upset when their babies are given away?

Do cats miss their offspring after they are removed? It is unusual for a mother cat to miss her youngster, however cats have sometimes shown sad behavior. What are these? Generally, mother cats wean their kittens between the ages of 5 and 6 weeks and 13 weeks.

Do felines suffocate infants?

Your cat poses a suffocation danger to your infant if they are allowed to sleep in close proximity. Make sure your cat keeps away from your baby when he or she is sleeping or snoozing, whether in a crib, bassinet, swing, or infant seat.

Why do dogs adore babies?

Due to the quantity of time spent together, canines are captivated with infants and may build close bonds with them. A baby and a dog, particularly a small puppy, share a need for a playmate and someone to give them attention.

Why do felines hiss at infants?

Many cats are naturally hesitant to be lifted up or handled on the body. This may be troublesome since children often pick up and touch their pets. As a result, hostility is widespread when handling, and many cats may scratch, hiss, or bite youngsters in this setting.

Why does my cat allow me to carry her like a child?

Why Does My Cat Enjoy Being Held Like an Infant? Some felines appreciate the coziness and warmth of this stance. Cats that like being near to their owners will enjoy the intimacy that this holding technique may provide.

Do cats believe humans to be their mothers?

Cats consider humans to be their moms. No, your cat does not believe you are the mother cat that gave birth to it. Cats approach humans with a degree of fondness and deference comparable to how they treat their mother.

Why does my cat weep so much?

Cats cry like infants when they want food, water, or affection. When female cats are in heat, they scream. To indicate a specific reaction, cats may change the pitch of their sounds from small meows to lengthy screams.

Do cats get envious of pregnant women?

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you are not prohibited from petting your cat. However, you should take measures and thoroughly wash your hands after touching her, particularly if you are breastfeeding your child. Regarding your connection with your cat, she may get envious of the baby in some instances. This is typical.

Are felines possessive toward their owners?

The fact is that cats may be just as protective of their humans as dogs can. Cats are sometimes portrayed as aloof and unapproachable, even by their owners. Simply said, cats adore their family, and their family also loves them.

Can cats detect the impending birth of a child?

Dogs and cats can notice changes in your mood, posture, behavior, and body chemistry that indicate the massive changes you’re through.

Do male felines favor female owners?

According to a research published by the Konrad Lorenz Research Station and department of behavioral biology at the University of Vienna, cats prefer the company of women over males.

Do cats have favorite kittens?

Key Takeaways. Even if they were well-socialized as kittens, cats tend to choose one person over others. Cats are great communicators and are drawn to those with whom they can converse well.

Do cats remember their littermates?

The answer is no. Kittens who have grown up apart from their litter do not recall or identify their siblings. There is likely to be an adjustment phase when a kitten leaves its siblings, particularly if it is adopted as a “only kitten.”

Why do cats move their young?

If the kittens were in a nice small basket, their mother would shift them to a bigger place to provide them with more space. Mothers of feral cats will take their kittens to their preferred hunting areas to teach them how to hunt. Consequently, your cat may be attempting to do this by bringing her kittens closer to her food dish.

Do cats take the breath of babies?

Cats steal the breath of infants. According to its name, this is the idea that cats would suffocate an infant by inhaling its breath. Obviously, this cat superstition is false; our furry companions do not steal newborns’ breath.

Why do cats consume catnip?

Baby’s breath flowers are the most harmful portion of the plant. This makes it unsafe for cat owners to cultivate this plant near cats, since the blossoms’ pleasant aroma may entice cats to consume them.

How can I safeguard my infant from my cat?

Do dogs recognize infants as humans?

Experts seem to be in the dark as well. Dogs can hear, smell, and sight infants, but they do not understand what a baby is, therefore it is surprising when they treat infants differently from adults. While your dog may not be very interested in humans, you may discover that he or she is particularly drawn to infants.

Do animals defend human infants?

Dogs that are very protective of infants As previously noted, dogs are pack animals, but some of them may go the additional mile to protect their little human companions. It mostly applies to dogs raised for herding, who will not let a baby to go missing or be harmed by anybody.

Quick Answer: Why do cats protect babies?

Why do cats love babies?

So it seems like cats really do love you and other people — they just like to pretend they don’t to establish their dominance of the household. They love the brand new family member as much as you do, and want to be close to them and snuggle — just be sure to keep an eye on them.

Why are cats good for babies?

According to the latest research, they may help lower his or her risk of coughs and sniffles during the first year of life. Reporting in the journal Pediatrics, researchers say that babies who grow up in homes with a pet — namely a dog or a cat — are less likely to get sick than children who live pet-free.

Do cats protect their babies?

But mother cats also feel protective of their litter, as well as of the surrounding area/territory. The mother needs to provide a safe zone for the kittens and any interlopers are seen as threats to her offspring.

What does it mean when a cat lets you hold it like a baby?

By “holding like a baby,” they mean flipped over on their back in the crook of your arm. My cats very generously allow me to carry them around the apartment like this, perhaps even letting me stroke their bellies. It is an honor and a privilege. Burstyn warns that you should never do this with a cat you don’t trust.

Do cats know when you are sad?

Compared to our devoted dogs, cats seem pretty unconcerned with human affairs. But it looks like our feline companions pay more attention than we give them credit for. They seem to be able to tell when we are happy. New research has found the first strong evidence that cats are sensitive to human emotional gestures.

Why do cats sleep on you?

The reasons for this are varied, but generally speaking, it is the person who cares for them each day. This bond is important to your cat as they are social creatures that need affection and attention from their owner. By sleeping with you, it is another way for them to show their love.

Can a cat kill a baby?

While the claim that a cat will purposefully suffocate your baby is false, the VERIFY team did find one incident in the United Kingdom in 2000 where a six week old baby died after the family cat fell asleep on his face. Still – Dr. Johnson says that situation is incredibly rare.

Why cats are bad for your health?

Cats in particular carry a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, which can get into your brain and cause a condition known as toxoplasmosis. People with compromised immune systems are especially vulnerable to this. Animal feces carry all kinds of bacteria that can make you sick.

Do cats get jealous of new babies?

Cats may show signs of jealousy when you pay more attention to an object, person, or another animal. This is especially true when you used to spend this time playing with your cat. It may be the arrival of a new family member, such as a newborn baby or pet.

Do cats care about their owners?

You really are more than just a source of food to your cat: A study published Monday finds that cats see their owners as a source of comfort and security, too. In other words, they do love you even if they don’t show it.

Do cats look after their kittens?

Kittens live primarily on solid food after weaning, but usually continue to suckle from time to time until separated from their mothers. Some mother cats will scatter their kittens as early as three months of age, while others continue to look after them until they approach sexual maturity.

Do pregnant cats get aggressive?

Will my cat’s behavior change during pregnancy? During pregnancy, the cat’s behavior alters very little, although some cats become more loving, and a few become aggressive. During the final week, the queen may search for a suitable kittening bed or nest. The pregnant cat should be confined indoors at this time.

Why do cats put their forehead on you?

Bunting is when your cat rubs their cheeks on you or an object, head-butts you with their forehead, or rubs their head on you. It’s a way for your cat to leave his scent on you, marking their territory. Cats do this when they love something or someone. They may practice bunting on other pets or their favorite humans.

How do I know my cat is happy?

Cats have a unique way of showing how happy they are, when they curl up on your lap, besides purring and falling asleep which are the more obvious signs. Having ears facing forward and relaxed whiskers are also signs of a contented cat. Playful behavior is a sure sign of a happy cat.

Do cats like being held by the scruff?

Many of us were taught that “scruffing” a cat—or grabbing the animal by the loose skin at the back of the neckis not only an effective mode of restraint, but also causes cats to relax. The thought behind this is that kittens relax when their mom carries them by the scruff.

In this Article

  • How to Prepare Before Baby Arrives
  • How to Introduce Baby and Kitty
  • Things to Watch Out For

If you’re welcoming a new baby, you may feel nervous about the prospect of introducing your beloved kitty to the newest member of the family. Fortunately, cats and babies can live together happily, but it will take some familial preparation to make sure everything goes smoothly.В

Much like setting up your home for your new baby’s arrival, it is important to prepare your cat for the upcoming changes as early as possible. Proactive preparation will save you and your cat from stress and unwanted behavioral issues so that the whole family can live in harmony.В

How to Prepare Before Baby Arrives

While it may seem overwhelming, there are several items you can add to your baby to-do list that will help your cat transition from being an only child to sharing their home with a new little one. These may include:

Take health precautions. As a cat owner, you may have heard of toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that can spread from cats to humans. It can also spread from mother to unborn baby. This parasite causes many health conditions in an unborn baby, such as blindness, deafness, or hydrocephalus.В

To prevent the spread of this parasite from cat to human, avoid stray cats and keep your cat indoors. Be sure to wear gloves when handling litter boxes or outdoor gardens. For pregnant cat owners, it’s best to avoid scooping litter when possible and to undergo regular screening.

Make gradual changes. As you prepare your home for your new baby, it’s important to spend plenty of time with your cat, preparing them for life with a baby. Take these steps to help your cat adjust smoothly:

  • Prepare your cat to be handled by a baby. Some cats love to be petted, while others simply don’t. Get your cat used to being touched more often and become more attuned to their likes and dislikes. Be ready to intervene when your baby becomes more mobile to avoid the little one disturbing — or grabbing — your cat.
  • Avoid playing hand games. If your cat is used to playing games with your hands, stop this as soon as possible. Even a gentle cat can upset or injure a baby by mistake. Teach your cat that only toys are appropriate for play.В
  • Get your cat used to baby sounds. In the months leading up to your baby’s birth, prepare your cat for these new sounds by playing recordings of babies gurgling, cooing, and — yes — even screaming throughout the day. Start quietly and increase the volume as your cat gets used to the new sounds. To avoid putting stress on your cat, move through the process gradually.
  • Introduce baby smells and objects into your home. Cats rely heavily on smell, so a baby and new baby objects can offend their senses. Bring powders, shampoos, and formula into your home to help your cat adjust before the baby arrives. Placing baby products on your own skin can help your cat develop positive associations with the new smells.

How to Introduce Baby and Kitty

When you arrive home from the hospital with your new baby, there may be a lot going on — visitors, gifts, new routines — but it’s important that you take the time to introduce baby and kitty. Once the baby arrives, make sure to:

Set aside quiet time — just you, kitty, and baby — to peacefully greet one another. Give your cat quiet time to reconnect with you and meet the baby without interruption.

Give your cat an item to investigate. Use a baby blanket or piece of clothing in a quiet, safe place where kitty can explore on their own time. This will help your cat get used to the baby at their own pace.

Supervise kitty-and-baby time. Cats love to snuggle, but this can pose a risk when your newborn can’t yet move their head. Always keep the door closed when you can’t immediately supervise your child and cat together.В

Things to Watch Out For

As you, your baby, and your cat get used to your new life together, be on the lookout for signs of stress. Important things to consider are:

Hygiene. With a newborn in the house, it’s more important than ever to keep your cat clean and free of pests. Stay on top of preventative prescriptions and maintain regular screenings with your vet. Be aware that dirty diapers can encourage your cat to create their own mess. Always place soiled diapers or clothing in its proper receptacle immediately.

Safety. Even as your cat and baby get used to one another, you shouldn’t leave them alone together. To prevent any accidents, use a screen door to let your cat see and hear the baby without investigating unattended. Toddlers can be especially stressful for cats, so maintain supervision as your baby grows. Continue to provide a quiet, safe place where kitty can be away from the baby if needed.

Patience. It can take time for your cat and baby to become friends. Be patient with both kitty and baby and remain open to the idea that your cat may prefer to steer clear of the baby. Taking the time to make sure that cat and baby are both safe and happy will result in a harmonious home!

Show Sources

ASPCA: “Cats and Babies.”

Blue Cross: “How to introduce your cat to your baby.”

Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada: “Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy: prevention, screening, and treatment.”

Is it Normal for Mother Cats to Leave Kittens Periodically?

Your mother cat’s instincts begin to guide her on the care of her kittens even before they are born. Instincts will continue to tell her when she needs to watch over her tiny babies with constant care and when it’s time to give them independence to explore the wide world.

Preparation

As her delivery time draws near, your mother cat may hide in dark, quiet and secluded areas. Her instinct is telling her to find a safe place in which she can give birth to and care for her kittens. Some mother cats become aggressive toward other pets and people as the birth gets closer. This is her instinct telling her to drive away anyone who might threaten her or her babies when they are at their most vulnerable.

Birth

As the kittens are born, they will be delivered inside an amniotic sac. Your mother cat’s instinct will tell her to begin licking the sac to break it open. Once the sac is broken, the mother cat will lick her newborn baby to stimulate his breathing and circulation. She will then sever the umbilical cord and guide her baby to her nipples where he will begin nursing even before his other brothers and sister are born.

Babies

Your mother cat’s instincts tell her that her newborn babies are completely dependent on her. She will rarely leave them during their first few weeks. This is because they cannot keep themselves warm and she must regulate their body temperatures. She knows she has to stimulate them with licking in order for them to urinate and defecate. She also will instinctively swallow their waste so predators will be less likely to find them.

Independence

Her instincts also tell her when it’s time to begin letting go. Within a few weeks, the babies who were born blind, deaf and completely dependent on her will begin to run, climb and wrestle with their brothers and sisters. Your mother cat will know when it is time to begin weaning the kittens from her milk and introducing them solid foods. Her instincts will tell her to let her babies explore a little further from her watchful eye. She may remove herself from the rough and tumble activities of her kittens but be nearby to intervene if someone needs to be reminded to play nice.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

More Articles

Reasons for Mother Cats Rejecting Kittens →

Care for Newborn Beagle Puppies in Cold Weather →

Why Do New Mother Cats Move Their Kittens & Meow a Lot? →

  • Purina: Labour and Birth
  • Vet Info: What to Expect During the Cat Gestation Period
  • Pet Place: How Mother Cats Take Care of Kittens
  • Ron Hines DVM PhD: The Stages of Feline Labor When Your Cat Gives Birth

Bethney Foster is social justice coordinator for Mercy Junction ministry, where she edits the monthly publication “Holy Heretic.” She is also an adoption coordinator with a pet rescue agency. Foster spent nearly two decades as a newspaper reporter/editor. She graduated from Campbellsville University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in English, journalism and political science.

Do Male Cats Accept Another Cat?

If your mama cat has a new litter of kittens, you’ve probably been counseled by well-meaning friends and family to keep them safe from male cats. The story that male cats are notorious kitten killers has its basis in fact but that doesn’t mean that male cats never act fatherly.

Typical Tom Behavior

Domestic male cats as well as male cats in the wild aren’t known for their fathering skills. Other than siring as many kittens as possible, tom cats don’t tend to get involved in the raising of the kittens. Male cats have been known to kill kittens, usually kittens that they didn’t father. This behavior is a throwback to instincts from wilder days when killing a rival’s young would keep the rival from spreading his genes about the countryside and giving the killer a better chance of advancing his own genetic agenda.

Anything is Possible

Not all male cats kill kittens and some have even been known to participate a little in caring for their own young by cleaning and playing with them. People have even reported having their tom cats turn up with litters of kittens in tow, as if to inform their humans that they were living up to the responsibilities of fatherhood.

Females Are More Helpful

Although typically male cats aren’t known to be the biggest helpers when it comes to caring for the babies, female cats often help their friends and family when it comes to looking after the little ones. Some female cats act as midwives, attending a birthing and helping to clean the newborn kittens. Female cats have been known to “babysit”, watching over and even nursing another cat’s kittens. And mama cats often foster kittens that aren’t their own, even taking in babies of an entirely different species, like squirrels, raccoons and rabbits.

Playing It Safe

If you have both male and female cats in your family, it’s best to play it safe and not allow the male cat access to the newborns, at least not unsupervised. If you feel that your tomcat might have some fatherly instincts you can gradually introduce him to the babies, but only after they’re a bit older, like after the six to eight week mark. But be ready to intervene if he shows the slightest bit of aggression and continue to keep him separated from mama and her babies.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

April 1, 2009

Do cats protect babies

Snakes pose a serious threat to nesting birds and can even get into nestboxes. Photo by Kelly Colgan Azar via Birdshare.

Do cats protect babies

Nests of all kinds can be vulnerable to attacks from predators, such as Blue Jays, crows, grackles, and many other species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. If the nest is located in a natural position, such as in a tree, there is usually very little that can be done to protect the nest. In some situations baffles can be placed around trees to prevent climbing predators from reaching the nest. You can also discourage predators from hanging around the area by not leaving food outside. Keeping pets indoors, especially during the nesting season, can also save millions of birds every year.

If the nest is in a nest box or birdhouse, then you have a better chance of protecting the nest and its occupants. Our NestWatch project has everything you need know about birdhouses—from placing them in a good location, installing a nest box camera, finding the right house for each species, and protecting the nest box from predators. Nestwatch can also help you figure out how to deal with invasive species such as European Starlings and House Sparrows. Check out Nestwatch’s Trouble Shooting guide for other nest box concerns.

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funded by donors like you

This Op-Ed by Dr. Jennifer Scarlett, Becky Robinson, and Dr. Kate Hurley was published in the San Francisco Examiner on September 19, 2019.

Bringing mothers indoors for extended periods is ‘inhumane and misguided’

As people who love and empathize with animals, seeing cats—and particularly kittens—outdoors tempts us to launch into action to find ways to help them. This compassion is a good impulse, but we must always remember that what we do should be in the cats’ best interest. And science and best practices show us that even though we might want to bring a cat or kittens indoors, that is frequently not the best course of action.

Cats who live outdoors are called “community cats.” They may be friendly or feral. Spayed or unaltered. Claimed by someone or not. Community cats can raise a number of questions. How best to help these outdoor cats should be guided by science, professional experience, and compassion.

Animal protection is constantly evolving and improving. We are continually learning and striving to apply new evidence-based findings to help animals as best we can. Those of us who have dedicated our careers to saving and improving the welfare of cats have come to agree on a few things.

First of all, Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the only humane and effective approach for outdoor cats. This means trapping unaltered cats, spaying/neutering them, vaccinating them against rabies and feline-specific diseases, and returning them to their outdoor homes. TNR allows the cat to live out her life without reproducing, while reducing calls to animal services and creating a healthier population.

Cats can and do live healthy lives outdoors. The outdoor cats that we bring into our spay/neuter clinics generally have good body condition–meaning they are not underweight–and can live many years. The outdoors is the community cat’s natural home. Cats have thrived outdoors, without human intervention, for thousands of years. It is only in the last few decades that any cats have lived indoors.

Feral cats are stressed by being indoors. Feral cats are not socialized to people and do not like being confined. The only reason to bring a community cat into a shelter is to spay or neuter her and then return her to her outdoor home.

We have also learned that just as it is best not to intervene with baby birds or bunnies, it is best to leave feral kittens with their mothers in their outdoor homes until the kittens are no longer nursing. Keeping a feral mother cat in the shelter for an extended period is inhumane and misguided. It causes significant stress that can lead to serious health problems for both the mother and her litter. Therefore, our new policy is to not impound feral nursing mother cats and their babies. Feral mothers know how to protect their babies in their outdoor homes and we see community cats continuing to thrive in areas of the country where no animal protection organization is intervening.

When we allow feral mothers and kittens to remain in their accustomed habitat instead of confining them in the shelter, we have an opportunity to support the mother cat and her family in ways that are aligned with her needs. This can include ensuring that shelter is available should she choose to use it, and most importantly, when the kittens are old enough to be weaned, ensuring that mother and offspring are spayed/neutered. At that point social kittens can be placed for adoption while feral kittens can be returned to the area where they were found.

Those mother cats and kittens who do need extra care from us due to health problems or dangers caused by their surroundings will not be turned away. We will make sure they get the care they need.

The driving force behind what we do is our compassion for animals. As animal protection professionals, we count on the passion of the whole community to make life better for animals and the people who love them. We inform our policy decisions by gathering the best available data, experience, and research, in addition to valued input from the community. We are constantly working toward the best approach for protection and positive outcomes for all of the animals that we serve. With these ideas guiding everything we do, we can work together to do the most good for all the cats in our communities.

Dr. Jennifer Scarlett is president of the San Francisco SPCA. Becky Robinson is president and founder of Alley Cat Allies. Dr. Kate Hurley is a shelter medicine expert.

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Do you go crazy for cats or do you prefer a pooch or two? Whatever you choose, owning a menagerie of pets while bringing up a baby seems to bestow lifelong benefits on the child.

Key points:

  • Being around animals in your first few years of life is linked with lower allergy rates
  • Swedish survey found a dose-dependent relationship between the number of pets a child lived with as a baby and protection against asthma, eczema and hay fever
  • Having pets early in life is thought to train the immune system through exposure to more microbes and pieces of bacteria

A Swedish study found the more pets in a household in early life, the less likely a child will go on to develop conditions like asthma, eczema and hay fever.

For instance, kids aged 7-9 years that shared a house with four pets when they were a baby were half as likely to have a recent allergy compared to their pet-free counterparts: 17 per cent compared to 33 per cent respectively.

Published in the journal PLOS One today, the study is the first of its kind to show pet ownership dose-dependency on allergy risk, said Bill Hesselmar, University of Gothenburg paediatrician and paper co-author.

He suspects it’s all thanks to the microbes and the microbial components found on our fluffy friends: “We didn’t measure them, but I think that’s the case.”

Mimi Tang, an immunologist at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne who was not involved in the research, said a person’s earliest life environment sets their risk of developing non-communicable disorders during their entire lifetime.

“And it’s not just allergies, but also autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic conditions such as obesity and vascular disease.”

The paper, at a glance

  • Subjects: A group of 1,029 children aged 7 to 8 years old, and another group of 249 8-to-9-year-olds who were followed from birth
  • Survey: Parents of children in both cohorts were asked if their child had experienced asthma, eczema or hay fever ever and in the past 12 months.
    Pet ownership details were also collected from parents from the large group; researchers already had that information from the birth cohort
  • Results: Children in the smaller group had, on average, consistently fewer allergy symptoms ever and in the past year when they grew up with more pets, with a similar trend seen in the large group.
    In other words, more pets mean more protection against allergies

It appears that living with more creatures — and a variety of them — safeguards us further, even when we’re still in the womb, Professor Tang said.

“What’s fascinating to me [about the new Swedish study] is the more pets you have, the more protection you have.”

So what is it about pets that protects us?

There are a couple of theories why pets, especially those that live indoors, confer allergy protection on youngsters.

Dogs and cats have fur that traps all sorts of microbes, even if they look clean, as well as bits of bacterial membrane called endotoxins.

This fits with the so-called “hygiene hypothesis”.

Inhaling, eating and generally being immersed in a whole bunch of different microbes and endotoxins as a child leads to a healthy microbiota, the community of microbes that lives on and in the body, Professor Tang said.

“This, in turn, provides appropriate programming of the immune system, as well as the metabolic system and neurodevelopment.”

But it must be in the first three years of life or so, she added.

And it seems dogs, in particular, are great at helping a kid’s microbiota along.

Anyone who’s ever owned a dog knows that when you bring a pooch inside your house, you’re welcoming whatever rotting matter it’s rolled in, eaten or snuffled too.

Cats, by their nature, are usually cleaner, relatively aloof and don’t slobber on your face as much.

A 2013 study found dog-owning families had around 42 per cent more types of microbe on their pillowcases than households without a dog.

Whether they had a cat or not, though, made no difference.

While today’s Swedish study examined asthma, eczema and hay fever rates, our furry friends also appear to fortify young children against food allergies later in life.

But, again, not all pets. Just dogs.

Still, pet ownership isn’t the be all and end all when it comes to allergy protection. It’s one of a whole slew of protective factors, including having older siblings and washing dishes by hand.

The effect of your fur baby on your human baby is probably most significant in urban areas, where dogs and cats are more likely to be kept inside, and less so in rural areas — “at least in industrialised countries with a similar lifestyle”, Dr Hesselmar said.

“But I don’t think having a pet or two will make any difference if, for example, you’re living somewhere where you’re exposed to a lot of microbes.”

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kvandyke

Member
  • Jul 5, 2004
  • #1
  • This day was an emotional roller coaster for us. After watching our resident killdeer protect their four eggs in their nest in a field next to our driveway for much of last month, we had a thrilling July 4 surprise when we found them all hatched this morning. Tonight the parents were making more noise then usual, so we grabbed flashflights and went outside to investigate. We immediately saw two pairs of eyes glowing at the end of the driveway and determined that they were those of cats, after which we discovered two headless baby killdeer in the nest. This happened just a short time ago (around midnight). I shooed the cats away down the road, thinking it was probably useless. I would take any suggestions as to what to do, if anything, at this point — if the other babies did in fact survive and then last the night — other than to wake up all of our neighbors who we believe to own cats (we live on a rural although fairly populated road — more like a rural suburb — and just about everyone has cats that they let roam outside). We hung around in the yard for awhile and didn’t see the other two babies. We assume the cats had them, unless they managed to hide themselves in the field. I can’t imagine that the cats won’t finally hunt them down now. I can still hear the parents outside, although they have quieted down a lot. If nothing else, is there anything we can do next year to prevent this? Killdeer hatch on our lawn every year like clockwork.

    (I also posted this as a reply to a question about baby birds, then realized I watned to start a new thread).

    robinm

    Registered User
    • Jul 5, 2004
  • #2
  • A warm welcome to BirdForum from all the Admin and Moderators.

    I am really sorry about what happened to “your” killdeer – I guess there is probably nothing you can do this year. Maybe next year some sort of cat scarer? I have an ultrasonic one in my garden which works well.

    kvandyke

    Member
    • Jul 5, 2004
  • #3
  • kvandyke

    Member
    • Jul 5, 2004
  • #4
  • Robin: I see that there are a lot of ultrasonic cat/dog chasers on the internet. If you have any specific recommendations for something that can be left outside (are they weatherproof?) I’d appreciate it. I assume they don’t also deter the birds?

    A warm welcome to BirdForum from all the Admin and Moderators.

    I am really sorry about what happened to “your” killdeer – I guess there is probably nothing you can do this year. Maybe next year some sort of cat scarer? I have an ultrasonic one in my garden which works well.

    Re: Need a gate to protect baby from stairs, but allow cats to get down –

    Do cats protect babies

    really? even onto a tiny stair lower down on the other side? (we need one at the top of a set of stairs). i didnt think they would be able to (they are not elderly but are kinda fat). maybe i should just try it.

    There is one at Petsmart that has a little gate for the cats to get through.

    There is one at Petsmart that has a little gate for the cats to get through.

    We use this exact same gate in our house. We bought ours to keep our dog away from the litter box and cat food. The little door is a decent size and I dont think a baby could easily get through it, BUT I will say our 75 lb lab was able to squeeeeeze through that little opening until he was about 9 or 10 months old. So be cautious.

    Do cats protect babies Do cats protect babies

    Our cats are too fat to jump a gate, so we had the same problem.

    What we did (after suggestions on here) was to mount a gate (not the pressure kind), but mount it about 6-7 inches above floor height so that the cats could slip under it. Fat as they are, cats can slink under small clearances very well. They can get under, but DS can’t. It has worked out perfectly!

    ETA: It’s one of the gates that swings open like a door.

    There is one at Petsmart that has a little gate for the cats to get through.

    We have this one too. Now, I think they sell the exact gate on Amazon for about half the price. The wide one that someone else posted would probably work in any doorway also.

    Do cats protect babies

    Our cats are too fat to jump a gate, so we had the same problem.

    What we did (after suggestions on here) was to mount a gate (not the pressure kind), but mount it about 6-7 inches above floor height so that the cats could slip under it. Fat as they are, cats can slink under small clearances very well. They can get under, but DS can’t. It has worked out perfectly!

    ETA: It’s one of the gates that swings open like a door.

    Ditto. I had purchased a gate with cat opening but it drove me nuts hopping over it. So I got a swing gate, mounted it five inches off the floor, and the cats go under no prob. My son did try to go under it after watching the cats. it was quite amusing to see him try but there was no way he would be able to make it under.

    Updated March 22, 2022

    Do cats protect babies

    If you’re a cat mama and a new baby mama, you’ve probably already discovered that there’s something about a nice, firm crib mattress that seems to attract cats from the first moment.

    And although it’s cute to find your little four-legged friend dozing like a baby in the crib, it’s disconcerting if your baby happens to be dozing in their bed at the same time. We know this from experience!

    But there’s no need to worry. Eliminating risk and creating a safe, harmonious environment for your fur baby and your human baby is completely possible.

    In this guide, we’ll discuss all the methods you can use to keep your cat out of your baby’s crib.

    Table of Contents

    • Can Cats and Babies Co-Exist?
    • Preparing Your Cat for Baby
    • How to Keep Your Crib Cat-Free
    • 3 Things To Avoid
    • Avoid Cat-astrophes

    Can Cats and Babies Co-Exist?

    Cats classically have a reputation for being territorial, fussy, unpredictable, and jealous. Not all of them are this way, and many cat moms know this — but they also know the cat was around the house first.

    So, can a cat accept the arrival of a new, noisy human in their kingdom? Of course, they can! Think about all the different ways you’d prepare an older child for the arrival of a younger sibling, or maybe how you’d introduce a new pet to an existing one.

    Taking steps to familiarize your cat with your newest family member and teaching them early on to avoid the crib and your baby’s other areas is the best way to ensure they exist together safely (1) .

    Preparing Your Cat for Baby

    Start now! Spending the duration of your pregnancy preparing your cat for the baby and establishing off-limits areas can make the transition seamless and simple. Start with showing them new scents, and practice by introducing things to your cat slowly.

    If you already have your newborn, you can still follow these steps.

    By nature, cats are curious. They have a very similar curiosity to that of a child, which will make them great companions in the future.

    Addressing some of your cat’s curiosities before the baby arrives can help keep the kitty out of the crib:

    • Scents: What do babies smell like? Your cat will want to know. Bring out the baby products, like baby lotion, powder, or a special shampoo. Use them around the house so your cat will associate the new baby smells with their everyday life.
    • Sounds: New sounds are one of the most stressful changes for a cat, so start slowly with a monitored, careful introduction. Playing baby sounds you find on the internet may help do this. When your baby cries or coos, it won’t surprise the cat.
    • Space: As loving as our cats can be, they also need peace and quiet. Prepare a quiet, secure area where they can hide out when they feel the need.

    This will help make all these new things familiar to your cat, reducing their curiosity and urge to jump into the crib to investigate.

    How to Keep Your Crib Cat-Free

    You should explore different options for keeping your cat-free areas safe before the baby arrives. But there are ways to solve the problem of your cat intruding after you and your baby have come home.

    Consider these options and see what works for you and your family.

    Do cats protect babies

    1. Install a Screen Door

    Including your cat in your baby’s presence will make the whole experience seem less stressful for them, so allow them the opportunity to supervise the baby from afar.

    A screen door in the nursery will give your cat a good view and a way to smell your baby without risking them getting into the crib. This is a better option than crib nets, which may be dangerous (2) .

    2. Make Space for Your Cat

    More than anything, your cat will be curious about your baby. As intelligent creatures, they see how important this baby is to the family, and they’ll want to be close.

    Give your cat an alternative to sleeping in the crib by setting up a perch or bed on the other side of the room.

    3. Make the Crib Less Appealing

    Before the baby arrives, you can put uncomfortable, noisy items into the crib, such as a flat layer of tinfoil or baby crinkle toys. Each time your cat jumps in, they’ll be greeted by startling sounds and no cozy place to sleep.

    They’ll eventually decide the crib is not a prime napping spot and will leave your baby in peace when you bring them home.

    4. Cat Deterrent Motion Sensors

    While other methods are less stressful to the cat, cat deterrent motion sensors can be a quick way to train your cat if you’re running out of time before the baby comes home.

    These devices work as a spray form or an ultrasonic sound meant to startle and deter your cat away from the designated area.

    5. Close the Door

    Do cats protect babies

    If nothing else seems to be working and your cat keeps finding their way into the crib, it might be time to start closing the door. Investing in a video baby monitor can help make this an easier choice.

    Excluding your cat from this part of your life shouldn’t be the first thing you try, and with some patience, they should learn what message you’re trying to convey to them.

    3 Things To Avoid

    Many well-meaning cat parents have tried various methods without realizing the potential dangers they could impose. Recognizing the risks of these methods is important for the safety of your cat and your baby.

    1. Crib Nets

    While these contraptions may seem like the obvious method for preventing your cat from getting inside the crib, they can be very dangerous for your baby. The fabric could fall into the crib, especially if your cat messes with it, causing your child to get strangled in the mesh (3) .

    2. Peppermint Oil

    Many people will suggest putting peppermint oil on everything that belongs to your baby. Cats hate it, and they have good reason! Peppermint oil is very dangerous to cats and should be avoided. It can cause tummy problems or pneumonia (4) .

    3. Excluding Your Cat

    Try to put yourself into your cat’s place and understand how all these changes make them feel. Even cats who react poorly to a new baby by acting out and getting anxious or stressed should be included in the family.

    Don’t lock your cat away from your baby. Instead, focus on supervised moments together.

    Avoid Cat-astrophes

    Your cat is an important part of the family, and a new baby doesn’t have to change that.

    Take the steps together as a team, both pet and human, to ensure a safe, happy, and purr-fect environment for everyone.

    Try introducing your cat to the sounds and smells of a new baby, and create designated safe zones so they can get some peace when they need it.

    Do cats protect babies

    Kittens are altricial, which means they are extremely immature and helpless for the first few weeks of life, unlike a horse who is precocial, which means they are born in an advanced state and can walk soon after birth. Altrical species are completely reliant on their mother and unable to protect themselves from danger. This vulnerability means a safe nest is essential for the safety of the kittens.

    Many pet owners will choose a nest for their cat if she is pregnant. Others may move a cat and her kittens if she has set up a nest in an unsuitable place. But, what we choose may not be what the queen is happy with.

    Why do mother cats move their kittens?

    The queen’s job is to care for her kittens and keep them safe. If she feels she and her kittens are insecure she will move them.

    Unhappy with the type or location of the nest

    If the cat’s family have provided a nest, the queen may not be happy with the location or type of nest. This may be because of its location, materials used, temperature or even lighting. We may think a nest in the lounge room is a great idea, but the queen is more likely to choose a nest in a drawer or the back of a wardrobe.

    Too many visitors

    Disruptions include too much human or animal interference (children, a household pet visiting the nest or an over-zealous adult). Some queens will be comfortable with their human family visiting the nest, but others prefer privacy, and if they feel exposed, they will relocate the kittens to a new nest.

    Soiled nest

    During the birth, the queen keeps the nest clean by eating the placentas and cleaning her kittens; however, some soiling will occur. The queen may move her kittens to another nest in the days after giving birth to avoid attracting predators to a soiled nest.

    Outgrowing the nest

    Kittens grow at a rapid rate, doubling in the first week of life and by the fourth week, they will be five times their birth weight. The queen may relocate her kittens to a larger nest as the kittens outgrow the one they were born in.

    Wandering too far

    As the kittens mature, they will start to explore their environment, if the queen feels they are escaping the nest too soon or wandering too far, she may relocate them to a more secure nest to keep them contained.

    How to help

    Do cats protect babies

    Supervise but don’t intrude

    Most queens are great mothers who know how to care for their kittens and in most cases, will not need help from humans other than food, water, litter trays and blankets. Checking on the mother and her kittens once a day is a good idea to make sure everybody is happy and well. However; the privacy of the mother and her kittens must be respected at all times. Let her be the guide, if she appears uncomfortable, back off. Keep children and family pets away from the cat in the first few weeks unless she is particularly bonded to another cat in the house and you are confident the kittens won’t be harmed.

    Socialising kittens

    For the first two weeks, kittens eat, sleep and do very little else. After three weeks, some kittens will start to explore.

    Human interaction with kittens is vital for their socialisation; the socialisation window is from 2-6 weeks. During this critical period, kittens are most receptive to a wide range of stimuli which can lay down the groundwork for how the kitten responds to people and situations for the rest of his or her life. Begin this process slowly and always be aware of the mother cat’s comfort level if she is not happy, back off and try in a day or so. Keep kittens within sight of the mother when you are holding them.

    Setting up a nest

    If you have a cat who is expecting a litter of kittens, plan ahead as to the location and type of nest you will provide. It should be in a quiet part of the house which is free of drafts and is private.

    Provide a nest that is easy to clean (or replace). Line the bottom of the nest with a 1-inch layer of old newspaper and place blankets on top. A day or so after the mother has given birth, remove the soiled blankets and replace them with fresh ones.

    What should you do if you find a nest of kittens without their mother?

    Do not disturb the nest, unless the kittens are in immediate danger. Watch from a safe distance to see if the mother cat returns. The chances are, she is hunting close to her kittens. If she returns to find a human nearby, she may wait until the coast is clear. Remember, she wants to protect her kittens, and by entering the nest while you are watching, she is showing the location of the nest and exposing her kittens to danger.

    A nest of kittens who are being cared for by their mother should be clean and content. If they have been abandoned by the mother cat or a person, they may appear dirty, unkempt and hungry.

    Author

    Do cats protect babies

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio

    In this Article

    • What Is Rabies?
    • How Can a Cat Get Rabies?
    • What Are the Symptoms of Rabies?
    • Can Cats Pass Rabies to Humans?
    • How Is Rabies Diagnosed and Treated?

    Though people may mostly associate rabies with dogs, it’s a virus that can affect any mammal — including cats. In fact, rabies affects more cats than dogs in the United States. The virus can be passed on to other animals or humans and is fatal if not treated before symptoms appear. But thanks to vaccines, rabies is also preventable and now rare in house pets.В

    What Is Rabies?

    Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system of mammals. It’s usually transmitted when an infected animal bites another animal or human. The virus starts at the location of the bite and moves through the body along the nerves until it reaches the brain. Once rabies reaches the brain, the infected animal will begin to show symptoms and will usually die within 7 days.

    How Can a Cat Get Rabies?

    In the United States, rabies is uncommon in domestic animals. Most states have laws mandating vaccines to prevent the spread of rabies in cats, dogs, and other animals. The CDC reports that there were only 241 cases of rabies in cats in 2018 (the most recent year for which they have data).

    When a cat does get rabies, it’s usually from the bite of an infected wild animal. Raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes are common rabies carriers. The more contact your cat has with wild animals, the higher the risk of their infection.В

    What Are the Symptoms of Rabies?

    The first indication that your cat may have rabies is a bite from another animal. If another pet bites your cat, speak to that animal’s owner about their rabies risk. If your cat is attacked by a wild animal, call your vet about possible rabies exposure.В

    The first thing your vet may suggest is an immediate booster shot of a rabies vaccine to stop the virus from taking hold. Your vet may also tell you to isolate your cat and to watch them for several weeks to see if they develop symptoms.

    The symptoms of rabies include:В

    • Changes in behavior. Cats who are usually calm may become excitable or agitated. Extroverted cats may become less affectionate and may isolate themselves.
    • Aggression. Cats can become excitable, aggressive, and vicious towards humans or other animals.
    • Drooling. Rabies can affect muscles in a cat’s mouth so they can’t swallow. They may drool or foam at the mouth.
    • Loss of muscle control. The final stages of rabies cause paralysis and coma.

    Can Cats Pass Rabies to Humans?

    A cat with rabies can pass the virus to their owner. In order to become infected with rabies, you need to have direct contact with the saliva of an affected animal. This doesn’t mean you can get rabies if a cat licks or drools on you. The saliva needs to come in contact with a mucus membrane or broken skin.

    Animals most commonly transmit rabies to humans through bites. It is possible for a human to get rabies from an animal scratch, but it’s very rare.

    If you think that you have been exposed to rabies, call your doctor immediately. You may need a series of rabies vaccines to prevent the infection from progressing.

    How Is Rabies Diagnosed and Treated?

    Rabies in cats isn’t obvious right away. There is an incubation phase after exposure that lasts several weeks — and even up to a year — when the cat won’t show any signs of rabies, and their saliva will not be infectious.

    There is no test for rabies in living animals. If you suspect your cat has been exposed to rabies, your vet will suggest that you isolate the cat and watch for symptoms. A booster vaccine might be able to prevent a cat from getting infected after exposure to rabies.В

    If your cat begins to show symptoms, there is nothing you or your vet can do. There is no treatment or cure for rabies in cats. Once symptoms appear, a cat’s health will deteriorate quickly and it will die within a matter of days.

    Your cat should be humanely euthanized to ease their suffering and to protect the other people and pets in your home. If your cat dies suddenly of what you suspect to be rabies, your vet may recommend having a sample from the cat’s brain examined. Direct testing of the brain is the only way to diagnose rabies for sure.

    The best protection against rabies in cats is a regular rabies vaccine. Speak to your vet about making sure your cat is up to date on their rabies shots.В

    Show Sources

    SOURCES:В

    American Veterinary Medical Organization: “Administration of rabies vaccination state laws.”

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Caring for a client’s animal that may have been exposed to rabies,” “Domestic Animals,” “How is rabies transmitted?,” “The Path of the Rabies Virus.”

    Last June, Ellen Lambeth and Greg Hudson, fellow staffers here at National Wildlife Federation who work on Ranger Rick magazine, had a pretty awesome wildlife sighting.

    While Ellen was heading to the compost bin at the back of NWF’s headquarters landscape to deposit food scraps and coffee grounds, she spotted a female eastern box turtle. Seeing box turtles isn’t all that uncommon here since the property is a Certified Wildlife Habitat and also abuts a large regional park complete with hundreds of acres of woodland, the preferred habitat for this species.

    It was WHAT the turtle was doing that made the sighting rare and fascinating; she was digging a nest to lay her eggs!

    Here is Ellen’s report on the encounter:

    While dropping off my compost this morning, I came across this sweet, good-sized box turtle:

    Do cats protect babies

    Female box turtle scoping out potential nesting spots. Photo by Greg Hudson

    Do cats protect babies

    Female box turtle laying eggs at NWF headquarters. Photo by Greg Hudson

    And what was she doing? Digging a nest for her eggs! Just like a sea turtle, she paddled each hind leg in turn down the hole, bringing up a bit of dirt with each scoop.

    I was hoping to see some eggs drop in but decided she needed her privacy and a restored sense of security. By the time I returned to check, she had carefully covered the hole and disappeared back into the woods. Her task had been done—no child-rearing hassles for her!

    Do cats protect babies

    Box turtle nest site. Photo by Greg Hudson.

    I’m posting this now because very soon, those baby turtles will be hatching and emerging out into the landscape. This is a natural event that will be happening across the country for many turtle species. August is baby turtle season!

    Ellen noted that the spot the box turtle chose to dig her nest was in an exposed area not too far from the dumpsters in our parking lot, which is regularly patrolled by raccoons, skunks, and opossums looking for a free meal. Since many turtle nests are predated by such generalist mammalian predators, she was worried the eggs wouldn’t stand a chance. Recognizing that predators need to eat too and that we try not to interfere in nature, but also that box turtles are on the decline due to habitat loss, while raccoons, skunks, and opossums aren’t, it was decided that helping out in this instance would be okay.

    So Ellen contacted National Wildlife Federation’s building manager Steve Johnsen, and together they came up with a solution: they placed a wire basket over top of the nest area and weighted it down with a heavy rock. This basket cage should keep foraging mammals from being able to dig into the nest and also protect the babies as they emerge. The wire basket bars are wide enough apart that tiny hatchling box turtles will easily be able to fit between them. After that, they are on their own, just as they otherwise would be in nature. Female turtles do not care for their young, which are fully equipped to hunt and forage for themselves.

    Here’s the nest-protector basket cage:

    Do cats protect babies

    Turtle nest protector cage. Photo by David Mizejewski.

    Saving baby turtles, all in a day’s work for us here at National Wildlife Federation!

    Here are eight tips for helping out turtle hatchlings in and around your own yard:

    1. Baby turtles make easy prey for a whole variety of predators from raccoons and skunks to crows and even bullfrogs. For terrestrial species such as box turtles, wood turtles, gopher tortoises and desert tortoises, make sure your garden has plenty of vegetation to give baby turtles adequate cover.
    2. Build a brush pile as hiding places both for adult and hatchling turtles.
    3. Sink a shallow dish into the garden soil as a place where young turtles can soak and get a quick drink. A birdbath placed directly on the ground, or even the drainage dish from a flower pot work great. Just make sure the sides aren’t too vertical or turtles can climb in and not out. Adding some pebbles to create a “shallow end” or a piece of tree bark to act as an exit platform are good ideas.
    4. If you’re lucky enough to live adjacent to a pond, lake, river or other wetland inhabited by aquatic turtle species such as painted, spotted, snapping, mud, musk, map, yellow-bellied and red-bellied turtles, the various slider, softshell and cooter species, or even the diamondback terrapin that lives in brackish coastal wetlands, be sure to provide plenty of aquatic vegetation in and around the water to give young of these species hiding places.
    5. If you live in coastal areas where sea turtles nest, be sure to keep your lights off at night during hatching season. The lights disorient baby sea turtles and cause them to head inland instead of out into the ocean.
    6. Keep your cat indoors. The shell of a baby turtle is no match for the sharp teeth of a domestic cat.
    7. Look before you mow! Do a quick scan of your lawn area before starting the engine to look for baby (or adult) turtles and other small wildlife that cannot outrun your mower. The extra effort will be worth it to avoid a wildlife disaster under the mower blades.
    8. Don’t use pesticides. These might hurt baby turtles directly, or kill off the insects and other invertebrates that make up a large portion of the diet of many species when they are hatchlings.

    Be a Wildlife Gardener

    Want to make the most out of gardening, and help wildlife? Become a wildlife gardener with the National Wildlife Federation. It’s free and you’ll get great wildlife gardening tips and learn how to certify your yard as an official habitat.

    Introduction

    Dogs and cats are notorious for their tumultuous relationship. They chase and taunt each other if they cohabitate. The claws might come out, the dogs might bark, and it can be utter chaos having these two species in one house.

    But on occasion, older dogs will take care of a kitten and create a beautiful bond. A dog snuggling next to a cat is super cute, but when a dog snuggles with a kitten, your heart could just melt.

    Why is it that dogs and cats can’t get along, but they’ll care for kittens? How can we make dogs and kittens friends all the time?

    The Root of the Behavior

    Dogs have been known to adopt an abandoned or orphaned kitten. This is an instinct that female dogs have because of their maternal nature. They do this so the kitten will survive. The dam, or the dog mother, will welcome the kitten into her litter and feed it as her own. Sometimes non-lactating dogs will begin lactating if they find a kitten without a mother. The dog mother protects and cleans the kitten and treats it as her own until the kitten can survive independently.

    However, if you have a lone kitten and a new mother to puppies, the pair might not necessarily take. Dams have instincts to know which puppies in her litter will survive and while as humans we can provide resources for all her puppies to survive, she may not see it that way. If your dog has a large litter and can’t provide enough milk for her puppies, she might reject a kitten to protect her own. Also, if a kitten and dam are introduced when a kitten no longer needs a mother for food and protection, it is less likely they will pair because survival is not reliant on a mother anymore.

    This is not to say that it won’t happen or that only new mothers adopt kittens. If you’ve introduced a kitten into a household with an older dog, a friendship and caring relationship can occur. Dogs will make friends with a kitten because they are social animals and would rather have company than be alone. Once they have established that bond, the dog will take care of the kitten as part of its pack.

    Taking care of other species’ young is not exclusive to dogs and cats. The instinct to protect their young is maternal, but the desire for companionship can come from any animal. This expands their pack and adds a resource, like extra protection or hunting skills.

    Encouraging the Behavior

    This maternal instinct can be encouraged. You might be taking care of a litter of puppies because they ended up in your yard and a kitten joined the party. You might breed dogs and you found an abandoned kitten, introduced her and she was accepted as part of the pack. Whether you want to keep the kitten once she is weaned is your choice, but by letting her stay, you’re helping her survive, which is a wonderful thing.

    If your dog and kitten situation is not out of maternal instinct, it’s important you introduce the animals in a safe and nonthreatening environment. Make sure there is a sense of food security, designated spaces, and you give each one equal attention. A new kitten is fun to play with, but your old pal is too. If you’ve never introduced a pair like this together, you should talk to a trainer or a vet to make sure you have all the elements for a smooth transition. Your dog and kitten have needs and if they’re not met it can create a disaster. Also, a trip to the vet to make sure each animal is up-to-date on their shots and is healthy is important. Some diseases that can be passed between dogs and cats include parasites, ringworm, rabies, and the common cold. If you have other cats in the house, you want to make sure neither has feline leukemia, which is only transmittable from cat to cat, not humans or dogs.

    Other Solutions and Considerations

    Letting dogs take care of kittens, especially for survival, can make us all feel warm and fuzzy and appreciate the circle of life. The friendship can grow and they can bond as they get older. The companionship is good for them to feel more social, and if a kitten is introduced to an older dog, it might make them more active and energetic.

    You should let the friendship run its course and keep an eye out for any problems that indicate they’re not getting along. It’s important to be aware of the dynamic in the household and take them to a vet or trainer if either animal demonstrates uncharacteristic behavior for their relationship.

    Conclusion

    Dogs and kittens make an adorable pair and their need to team up is a great reminder of how we all could use a friend or two, even if it’s not who we’d expect. When you get a dog and kitten that want to be forever friends, encourage it, and hold on to that feline.

    Do cats protect babies

    Written by a Miniature Yorkie lover Stephanie Molkentin

    Do cats protect babies

    Cats and Chickens Problems

    It might make sense to think that cats would pester your flock of chickens. Cats love hunting birds, and chickens are birds. Fortunately, cats tend to go after animals that don’t pose a threat. This means that cats will tend to go after small birds, rats, mice, and occasionally other pets like cats and dogs if they’re provoked.

    This also means that cats will tend to avoid going after adult chickens. If a typical cat were to fight with a chicken or rooster, the cat would probably win the fight, but it would also likely get hurt. If a rooster is being especially aggressive, it may provoke an altercation with your cat, but this is unlikely. Most of the time, you would only see a rabid or starving cat attack a chicken, but this is rare.

    If you are raising a group of chicks, you should pay closer attention. While cats avoid grown chickens, they love attacking small and defenseless animals. This makes baby chickens a prime target for a cat. Here are a few things you can do to prevent an unfortunate encounter between a cat and your baby chickens.

    Keeping Cats Away From Baby Chicks

    Do cats protect babies

    Firstly, chicks aren’t very good at regulating their temperature on their own. Unless you can count on the outside weather staying above 60 degrees at night, you should plan on keeping them inside. Most owners choose to set up a pen for their baby chicks with at least one heat lamp. This allows the baby chickens to warm themselves up when they’re cold, but it also allows them to escape the heat if it’s too much for them.

    You may wish to add or remove heat lamps based on how the baby chickens act. If they are constantly huddled under the lamp, consider lowering the lamp or adding a second lamp. If they are very inactive and panting, you should consider raising or removing a lamp.

    Raising your baby chickens indoors also allows you to protect them from predators. Baby chickens are hardly bigger than an egg when you first receive them in the mail. They make noise constantly, they are smelly, and they can hardly run. At this stage, pretty much any carnivorous or omnivorous wildlife could hurt them easily.

    When you’re raising baby chicks in the wintertime, this problem changes to some extent. While some wildlife tends to be less active during the colder seasons, non-hibernating animals like feral cats, rats, and possums can get especially hungry. This can drive them to invade human spaces when they normally wouldn’t.

    A safe approach would involve raising baby chickens in an enclosed space that is only accessible through a door. Try and patch up any larger holes that a possum or raccoon might be able to get through, and you can place rat traps for extra security.

    While a mouse could theoretically kill a baby chicken, it would be more likely to just eat the chicken food. Mice are generally not much of a problem for chicken owners in this regard.

    Any deterrent that works against wildlife will likely be effective against feral cats. While they might be a concern for people who own cats as pets, you can keep your baby chickens safe by temporarily housing them in an enclosed area that other animals can’t get to.

    Keeping Cats and Other Wild Pests At Bay

    Do cats protect babies

    While baby chickens are especially vulnerable to cats, grown chickens face a different set of problems. They are typically kept outside, and that makes them vulnerable to predators that wouldn’t even be a consideration if your hens and roosters were kept inside. You should make special preparations to deter raccoons, possums, and coyotes. Due to the geographical location you live in, coyotes may be more or less of a problem. If there is a history of coyote activity in your area, it may be wise to make preparations.

    Do cats protect babies

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    Electric Fences

    One common deterrent for predators is an electric fence. This can serve to prevent chickens from leaving and predators from entering. Electric fences aren’t usually strong enough to kill any predator, so they are safe to use if you prefer to avoid violently harming any animal. If you’re looking for a stronger deterrent, there are also other options available.

    Electric fences typically aren’t very high, so you may wish to pair this with a taller fence if your hens and roosters escape too frequently. For many breeds, a fence that is about three to four feet tall will be enough. A fence like this will generally be enough to prevent coyote attacks. Coyotes also tend to attack in the nighttime, so you can further prevent them from harming your chickens by keeping them in an enclosed coop after sunset.

    Live Traps

    Live traps are another option, but many chicken owners choose to avoid this until they’ve directly observed a predator attacking their flock. A given area will typically have just a few predators around, and the ones that are present may naturally avoid your area. If this is the case, setting out the trap may merely lure an animal to your area that wouldn’t have otherwise caused any trouble to your chickens.

    Live traps are commonly used with some kind of bait. Many kinds of food can work, but fragrant foods like raw fish and wet cat food tend to be the most effective. You can also use something as simple as chicken feed. Many people expect to catch wildlife with a live trap, but there is a real possibility that it could end up catching either a feral cat or your own cat if you have one that lives outdoors. This makes live traps a less appealing option for some people.

    Live traps can be helpful in some situations, but you should absolutely monitor them closely and check at least once a day if you do choose to use them. If your trap ends up catching a predator like a raccoon or a possum, you should have a plan for releasing the animal back into the wild. Make sure to drive the animal a few miles away in order to prevent it from returning to your flock, and also be sure that it won’t disrupt any neighbors or landowners in the area.

    Other Predators

    Some chicken owners have issues with birds of prey that attack their flock. They pose a different problem because flying predators can’t be physically blocked with a fence. The problem of flying predators can be solved with scarecrows, fake owls, and blinking lights. Some people even hang blank CDs along the sides of the chicken fence. As they dangle, the reflective surfaces flash light, which deters flying predators from attacking.

    Do cats protect babies

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    Do cats protect babies

    The Spruce / Candace Madonna

    It is estimated that domestic cats, whether they are loose pets, feral cats, or strays, kill millions of wild birds each year in the United States alone. Fortunately, savvy backyard birders and pet owners can take easy steps to protect birds without giving up their pets or losing their feathered visitors. By using several methods to control both the cats’ behavior and protect the birds’ habitat, the risk to backyard birds can be minimized.

    Controlling Behavior

    It is virtually impossible to train cats, even the gentlest pets, to avoid the hunting instinct that can injure or kill wild birds. While some training methods may be effective, it is often easier to control a cat’s behavior to minimize interaction with wild birds and to prevent an overpopulation of feral cats that will prey on birds.

    • Keep pet cats indoors at all times. If they must go outdoors, do not leave them unsupervised, and do not allow them outside during early morning or other peak bird feeding times. Outdoor enclosures—often called cat patios or “catios”—are another option that can allow cats outdoor access without endangering birds.
    • Do not praise, pet, or reward a cat that captures a bird, no matter what the bird species—even if the cat has caught an unwanted invasive bird. Positive reinforcement can encourage the animal to prey on additional wild birds, and cats do not distinguish between invasive and native species.
    • Keep cats’ claws trimmed to make it more difficult to climb trees or catch wild birds. It is not necessary or recommended to fully declaw cats, but filing or trimming their claws can reduce the effectiveness of their most dangerous offensive weapons, particularly on the front paws.
    • Use collar bells to warn birds of a cat’s approach. While this is not always effective, it is one step that can be useful when birds are alerted by a ringing or tinkling bell. Similarly, putting brightly colored or patterned collars on cats can help catch birds’ attention so they notice the predator.
    • Do not feed or shelter feral cats. The instinct to hunt is independent of hunger and well-fed, stronger, healthier cats simply have more energy to attack birds and other wildlife. Instead, report feral cats to a local animal shelter for capture and population control.
    • Spay or neuter pet cats to prevent adding to the pet population and potentially adding to feral cat colonies. If a cat does have unwanted kittens, be sure they are all adopted by responsible families that will spay or neuter their new furry family members and keep them safely indoors.
    • Consider using humane traps to capture stray or feral cats to transport them to a local animal shelter. Animals at the shelter will also be spayed or neutered, which will help control the pet population.
    • If possible, contribute financially to local animal shelters or volunteer at their facilities to ensure they can continue to help control stray pet populations.

    Controlling Habitat

    Even yards that are not home to domestic cats may be visited by stray or lost pets, neighbors’ cats, and feral animals that can kill the birds. Taking proper steps to create a safe bird habitat will minimize the dangers of any backyard cats.

    • Keep bird feeders and bird baths at least five feet from shrubbery and cover that can conceal a stalking predator. Ideally, feeders should be 10-12 feet from potentially dangerous cover so birds can easily react if a cat attacks.
    • Opt for landscaping that will discourage cats even while it nurtures birds, such as thorny bushes that will keep cats away but yield berries for birds to feast. Sharp mulches and plants with strong aromas can also keep cats from prowling nearby.
    • If possible, install a decorative or wire fence in front of shrubbery or hedges that may conceal predators to prevent them from attacking birds from these vantage points. Even a short fence can thwart a predator’s attack.
    • Investigate yard fences regularly and repair or block gaps that may be access points for wild or feral cats. Similarly, be sure there are no access points beneath decks, behind sheds, or in other areas where predators can hide.
    • Choose safe birdhouse designs with steep roofs and lacking perches to help deter predators. Keep nesting boxes at least eight feet off the ground to minimize the possibility of a cat jumping to the box.
    • Check brush piles and shrubbery regularly during the nesting season for ground nests and fledgling birds that are most vulnerable to prowling cats.
    • Avoid using low feeders or ground feeders that make it easier for cats to capture wild birds. Clean up spilled seed regularly to minimize ground-feeding birds.
    • Use plastic or metal poles to support feeders so cats’ claws cannot help them climb to the feeder. Baffles are another option to deter hunting cats.

    What Not to Do

    While it can be frustrating to take multiple steps to keep backyard birds safe but still find evidence that predators have been hunting, it is never acceptable to take steps to deliberately harm any animals. Local laws and community guidelines will often prohibit any shooting or other harmful techniques against cats. Furthermore, it is irresponsible to use lethal traps, poisons, or other tactics that could hurt other animals, including birds. Also remember that other predators will hunt birds, including raccoons, snakes, and larger, avivorous birds, and the evidence they leave behind can look similar to a cat attack.

    By using a variety of different techniques to keep backyard birds safe from cats, it is possible to minimize the feline risks in your yard and keep every bird that visits as safe as possible.

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    Do cats protect babies

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    Do cats protect babies

    1. Animals
    2. Animals A-Z
    3. Sand cat

    Sand cats are a small, solitary cat native to deserts in Africa and Asia. Superbly adapted to life in the desert, they can live without water, run on shifting sand and detect prey underground.

    Fun Facts

    1. Sand cats have dense hair and pads on the soles of each foot that protect against the intense heat and cold of their habitat, as well as aiding in movement across the sand. The pads help them navigate across shifting sands.
    2. Sand cats are fearless snake hunters—their prey can include venomous vipers and other snakes.

    Conservation Status

    • Least Concern
    • Near Threatened
    • Vulnerable
    • Endangered
    • Critically Endangered
    • Extinct in the Wild
    • Extinct
    • Data Deficient
    • Not Evaluated

    Sand cat News

    • Fact sheet
    • Conservation
    • Meet the Animals

    Sand cats have a pale sandy to grey-brown coat, which is slightly darker on the back and pale on the belly, with occasional stripes on the legs. Bold, red streaks runs across each cheek from the corner of both eyes. Sand cats have a broad head with large eyes and low-set ears. They have short limbs.

    The tail, which can account for about half of the head-body length, features two or three rings and a black tip. Body length ranges from 18 to 22.5 inches (45 to 57 centimeters), with the tail adding on an extra 11 to 14 inches (28 to 35 centimeters). Adult sand cats weigh between 3 to 7.5 pounds (1 to 3.5 kilograms).

    Sand cats live in three distinct regions of the world: Africa’s Sahara desert, which stretches through Algeria, Niger and Morocco; throughout the Arabian peninsula; and in parts of central Asia including Turkmenistan, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Sand cats prefer a very dry, arid habitat with little vegetation, for which they are well adapted. They are sand-dwelling creatures, inhabiting dry plains and rocky valleys where conditions are extreme. Surface temperatures can reach 124 degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees C) during the daytime, then drop to as low as 31 degrees Fahrenheit (-0.5 degrees C) at night. This species prefers flat or rolling terrains, and will retreat to burrows when temperatures become too extreme. Due to the importance of burrowing and digging to sand cats, they are not found in areas where soil is compacted.

    Sand cats eat primarily small rodents, occasionally hares, birds, spiders, insects and reptiles. They are fearless snake hunters—their prey can include venomous vipers and other snakes. Living in a relatively desolate habitat, sand cats are opportunistic feeders out of necessity. Like many desert-dwelling species, sand cats can survive without drinking water for weeks at a time. They will instead obtain any moisture they need from their prey.

    Sand cats hunt by skulking close to the ground and using their enhanced sense of hearing to detect prey. Sounds of a potential meal burrowing underneath the ground trigger sand cats to begin digging rapidly to expose and capture prey. Upon capture, they may cover its kill and return later to feed.

    At the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, they eat mice, bones and rib bone meat.

    Sand cats have been known to take turns sharing shallow burrows, but will not occupy the burrow at the same time.

    Reproduction among sand cats depends on where they live; individuals from the Sahara will begin breeding in January and end in April. Those occurring in Turkmenistan will begin breeding in April, and in Pakistan the season will last from September to October. In human care, this species can breed more than once a year. The range in time of year chosen for breeding is believed to be a result of either climate or available resources.

    Gestation for sand cats lasts 59 to 67 days, and females give birth to a litter of one to eight kittens, although two to four is most common. Kittens weigh just over 1 ounce (39 grams) at birth. Juveniles become independent by 6 to 8 months old, and will be sexually mature by 14 months.

    Sand cats are mainly nocturnal and crepuscular animals, avoiding the intense heat of the desert by hiding in burrows. They rely on their ability to dig to create shelter from extreme weather.

    In human care, sand cats can live to be 13 years old. Lifespan in the wild is unknown.

    Habitat loss leading to a decrease in prey is one of the greatest threats for sand cats today. Arid ecosystems are especially vulnerable to human development. As agriculture and livestock grazing continue to expand, naturally occurring vegetation disappears, leaving limited resources for the small mammal prey of sand cats.

    Feral and domestic dogs and cats have also presented an issue for sand cats in the form of disease and predation.

    Conservation efforts are currently in place to help sand cats, including laws preventing the hunting of this species and protected areas in several native habitats within the Middle East and Africa. Hunting is prohibited in Algeria, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Mauritania, Niger, Pakistan and Tunisia, and further research is planned to better understand sand cat distribution and population density.

    Do cats protect babies

    Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is commonly known as Feline AIDS because of its similarities to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). FIV is relatively uncommon, but it can have serious impacts on a cat’s health and well-being.

    With proper care, cats with FIV can live many years and usually can share a household with other, FIV-negative cats. Medications and good nutrition can help greatly increase the lifespan of a cat with this disease.

    Dr. Debra Zoran, a professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, discusses the stages and prognosis for cats that become infected with FIV.

    “FIV is not a virus that is easily contracted by contact in normal household settings, such as from grooming, eating from the same food bowl, or contact with other secretions from the nose, mouth, or urine of infected cats,” Zoran said.

    FIV does not survive well outside the body; it is mostly transmitted through bite wounds and blood transfusions, or is passed to kittens during birth. It is also spread through breeding, so cats that are spayed or neutered have a much lower chance of contracting the disease.

    “A cat with FIV that is neutered and not prone to fighting can live with another cat in a household and the virus will not affect the other cat,” Zoran said.

    Zoran highly recommends that cats with FIV become indoor-only cats, both for their own safety and to reduce the risk of transmission to other cats.

    She said that if a cat becomes infected with FIV, the disease will go through three stages, the first of which is characterized by a lack of symptoms.

    “After the virus gets into the body, it enters the body’s T lymphocytes and lives in them without causing problems—often for years,” Zoran said. “Some infected cats that have poor immune function can get signs of illness in months, but most cats carry the virus for months to years before the virus transitions into the active stage.”

    During the active stage, which can also last for years, cats are more prone to illnesses because the virus interferes with the immune system. They may have frequent respiratory, skin, or urinary tract infections, but veterinary care can allow these cats to recover completely.

    “Cats with this stage of the disease do best if they live inside because they are exposed to fewer things to cause illness,” Zoran said.

    During the third stage of FIV, called the AIDS stage, cats typically develop chronic illnesses or cancers.

    As of now, there is no cure for feline AIDS, but cats with FIV can have a good quality of life if they live indoors and have good veterinary care.

    Related Articles

    Cats pose a danger to garden birds year-round, but spring through early summer when they are nesting is an especially dangerous time. Flightless baby birds provide easy prey, and the jingle of a collar or bell does little to protect the nestlings. Wrapping hard-to-climb material or a baffle around the trunk helps keep cats out, especially if you make additional modifications to the area to dissuade the cats from tree.

    There are a few things you can put around your tree to protect nesting baby birds from a cat attack. These include a homemade or commercial trunk wrap, a tree baffle and motion-activated sprinkler.

    Install Trunk Wraps

    Wrapping the trunk with a hard-to-grip material can temporarily protect tree trunk from cats. Wrap aluminum foil or plastic wrap around the trunk, beginning a few inches from the ground and continuing to the first set of branches, advises Cat Wiki. Cats have trouble gripping the trunk through the foil and they don’t like its texture on their feet, but if you don’t wrap enough of the trunk they can leap and grip above it. Foil does require frequent replacement because it will tear and wear. You can also use a sheet metal tree guard, but remove it after nesting season so it doesn’t girdle or damage the tree trunk.

    Use Tree Baffles

    Baffles are cones of wire or metal made to fit around trunks or poles. The baffle fits around the trunk with the large end of the cone aimed downward, where it prevents the cat from climbing past. Commercial versions are often sold for squirrel exclusion, but you can also make your own from chicken wire. Cut a circle from the chicken wire the diameter of the tree trunk plus 30 inches, and then slice through one side to the center and cut a hole large enough to encircle the trunk. Wrap the baffle around the trunk 4 to 5 feet from the ground so the cat can’t climb or jump past it, and secure the baffle in place with sturdy wire. Laying chicken wire on the ground around the tree keeps cats away, as they do not like walking on the material.

    Motion-Activated Sprinklers

    Scare devices may frighten cats from the tree and eventually condition them to stay away, which means they make an excellent cat tree deterrent. Motion -activated sprinklers work well because most cats don’t enjoy getting wet, reveals Bob Vila. When setting up a sprinkler, place it so it sprays the lower trunk or area around the trunk as the cat approaches, but make sure it doesn’t wet the bird nest. Sound and movement devices may not work as well because the cat becomes accustomed to them, and they may also disturb the nesting birds.

    Modify the Habitat

    Cats can’t climb narrow metal poles as well as tree trunks. Installing birdhouses on tall poles, with or without baffles, may encourage birds to nest inside and keep them out of the more accessible trees. It also does little good to wrap or baffle one tree if there are nearby trees or buildings that the cat can use to access the nesting tree. You may need to place baffles on trunks of neighboring trees so the cat can’t climb it leap to its target tree. If all else fails and the cat is a pet, keep it indoors until after the baby birds have fledged.

    This is mysterious, isn’t it? I have a 1.5-week-old kitten that I’m fostering for the local humane society and I haven’t noticed any belly button on her or her two older foster brothers. But if I had seen these kittens when they were born, I would have seen the umbilical cord. Kittens in the womb get their nutrients from their mothers the same way we do, through an umbilical cord that’s attached to the placenta on one end and the belly of the fetus on the other. All mammals have this system except for the marsupials (like kangaroos and opossums) and the two egg-laying mammals (platypus and echidna).

    Blood from the mother carries oxygen and nutrients to the placenta and carries wastes away. The cleaned, fueled, oxygen-rich blood then flows through the fetus. So why are we the only mammals (as far as I know) with visible belly buttons? Basically, the answer is that the belly button heals more completely in kittens than in us, butwhy? Maybe it’s because of how we tie off and cut the umbilical cords of babies. Most mammal mothers bite the cord between the baby and the placenta, leaving a fairly long piece of the cord. Then the cord shrivels up over the next few days and falls off. I wonder if we’d have belly buttons if we did the same thing. Maybe it’s because our skin is rather different than the thin skin of most mammals. Now I’m wondering if chimps have visible belly buttons.

    What a great question! It never occurred to me that cats should have belly buttons. You see the attached bit of umbilical chord on newly-born puppies, so puppies must have them, but what about cats? Basically, all mammals that develop in a placenta, attached to their mother with an umbilical chord, should have a belly button or at least a scar where the umbilical chord attached. (There IS a group of mammals that do not develop in placentas, and thus do not have belly buttons. Can you think of an example? You won’t find them in North America!) According to Cecil Adams, the guy who answers questions for “The Straight Dope” column ( straightdope ), cats have a scar hidden under their fur just tail-wards of their rib cage where the umbilical chord attached. This is the cat equivalent of a belly button.

    Cats do have umbilical cords (which is how they get nutrients), and normally the mother cat severs it with her teeth, and the belly button will not appear as humans do – the mother cat does not tie a neat knot.

    Do cats protect babies

    Rabies is a viral disease typically found in wild animals—most commonly raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes. However, any mammal can become infected if they are exposed. That is why it is essential that we keep our pets protected with consistent rabies vaccines.

    Both indoor and outdoor cats are at risk for contracting rabies. Here’s what you need to know about the rabies vaccine for cats, including the schedule, side effects and cost.

    How Is Rabies Transmitted?

    Rabies is transmitted through the saliva of the infected animal, so sustaining bites from infected wildlife is the most common way to contract it. There have been cases of non-bite exposures, where scratches, abrasions or opens wounds are contaminated with infected saliva, but these are rare.

    Why Is the Rabies Vaccine for Cats So Important?

    The rabies virus is a very severe disease, which is predominantly fatal for unvaccinated pets. It is also important to know that many states REQUIRE the euthanasia of unvaccinated animals exposed to potentially rabid animals.

    Euthanasia is required because it is impossible to diagnose rabies in living animals. The tests for diagnosing rabies require brain tissue samples from two parts of the brain that can only be extracted during a postmortem procedure.

    Once rabies symptoms set in, the disease is nearly always fatal in animals, and treatment options are typically supportive. That is why prevention methods like the rabies vaccines are essential.

    These are also the reasons why most states and local governments in the United States require the vaccination of dogs and cats by law.

    These laws vary by region, so I would recommend contacting your veterinarian or local health department for additional information about the requirements and recommendations.

    Do Indoor Cats Need a Rabies Vaccine, Too?

    I have heard many pet parents say, “But my cat is indoors only,” when I bring up vaccinating their cat, particularly against rabies. It is very important that ALL cats be vaccinated against rabies, including cats that never go outdoors.

    While you may keep your cat indoors, that doesn’t mean that they can’t ever escape or that wildlife can’t ever find its way into your home.

    Bats frequently sneak inside homes—coming down chimneys or exploring attics. Bats are also known to trigger the hunting instinct in cats, which means your cat is more likely to chase and attempt to catch or play with a bat. Racoons are also known to make their way into your attic.

    To ensure your cat is never at risk for rabies, the best decision you can make is to get them vaccinated against rabies.

    How Often Do Cats Need to Get a Rabies Vaccine?

    There are a number of different brands of rabies vaccines for cats available on the market, and each brand comes with manufacturer guidelines that must be adhered to by the administering veterinarian.

    The major differences between feline rabies vaccines are whether they contain an adjuvant or not.

    Older vaccines contained materials called adjuvants, which act to boost the immune response to the vaccine. These vaccines worked very well to prevent disease, but in a very small numbers of cats, they were linked to the development of both local reactions (such as swellings) and much more serious problems, like growths at the site of the vaccine.

    Most veterinarians have now changed to the non-adjuvanted form of the rabies vaccine for cats. Originally, this vaccine was only released as a one-year vaccine. That meant that starting at the age of 12 weeks, a cat would need to receive the vaccine annually to ensure protection from the disease.

    Recently, however, a non-adjuvanted three-year vaccine has been made available to veterinarians. This vaccine is only given once every three years after the initial one-year booster.

    It is relatively expensive, so many veterinarians still prefer to use the annual form of the non-adjuvanted vaccine.

    What Are the Side Effects of Rabies Vaccines in Cats?

    Fortunately, reactions to vaccines are very uncommon in cats. In fact, side effects of rabies vaccines in cats are very rare. When they do happen, they include slight fever, lethargy, decreased appetite and a localized swelling at the vaccine site.

    These rabies vaccine side effects usually disappear within a few days.

    In extremely rare cases, cats may develop an allergic reaction to the vaccine, which includes hives, swelling of the face and itchiness.

    Severe reaction can include weakness and collapse. Keep in mind that these reactions are extremely rare; allergic reactions occur in fewer than 10 cats out of each 10,000 cats vaccinated.

    How Much Does a Cat Rabies Vaccine Cost?

    Cat rabies vaccine costs will vary tremendously depending on the vaccine used by your veterinarian. Non-adjuvanted vaccines are significantly more expensive than adjuvanted vaccines, and the three-year form is more expensive than the one-year form.

    Some veterinarians will choose to “eat” the extra cost rather than pass it along to their clients because they feel that the non-adjuvanted vaccine is simply “better medicine.” Other practices, particularly those that vaccinate a lot of cats, are unable to absorb this extra cost and must pass it along.

    The cost of the procedure also depends on whether the vaccine is administered in an office visit by the veterinarian or at a vaccine clinic. Be aware that, as a rule, vaccines that are inexpensive are most likely adjuvanted vaccines.

    If the choice is between an inexpensive adjuvanted vaccine or nothing, I strongly recommend choosing the adjuvanted vaccine.

    However, if your veterinarian offers the non-adjuvanted vaccine, and you are able to afford it, that is the preferred choice for most cats, regardless of whether it is the one- or three-year form.

    So, in short, rabies vaccines for cats are very important, regardless of whether your cat goes outside or not. It is important for the health of your pet as well as for you!

    So call your veterinarian, dig that cat carrier out of the basement, and head in for a rabies vaccine today.

    By: Dr. Sandra Mitchell, DVM

    Featured Image: iStock.com/StockImages_AT

    Related Video: Which Vaccines Does My Pet Need?

    Newborn kittens are altricial, which means they are born completely helpless and unable to move around on their own and do not start to walk until the third week of life. This is a sharp contrast to precocial animals such as horses, deer, sheep, gazelles, who are born in an advanced state and able to stand and run (from danger) within an hour of birth.

    Because of their vulnerability, the mother cat (queen) keeps her kittens safely hidden in a nest. Sometimes it will be necessary to relocate the nest to another location. This may be due to too much human interference, a predator nearby or the kittens have outgrown the current nest. The mother cat can’t transport her kittens in her arms as we do. Instead, she carries her kittens in her mouth by the scruff of their neck. Once the kitten is mobile, the mother will carry them back to the nest if they stray too far. As the kitten moves into adolescence, this reflex behaviour diminishes.

    Why do kittens freeze?

    Do cats protect babies

    If the kitten struggled, the mother could drop or injure it, which could put the kitten at risk. Mother nature has ensured that the kitten instincively tucks up its legs, compacts the body, and becomes immobile when picked up by the mother. Researchers found that maternal carrying reduces body movement, heart rate, and crying in infant humans and mice. Mouse pups responded similarly when picked up by researchers. However, when a small amount of local anesthetic was administered, the immobilisation response was significantly reduced. This indicates that somatosensory (the ability to interpret sensation) as well as proprioception (awareness of the position and movement of the body) both come into play.

    Cats aren’t the only animals who carry their infants by the scruff, dogs, hedgehogs, squirrels, foxes, wolves and rodents also move their offspring this way.

    Can humans scruff cats?

    No, people should never scruff a cat. There is a big difference between a mother picking up her kitten by the scruff when its weight is 100 – 500 g to picking up an adult cat. Scruffing an adult cat put enormous pressure on the skin as well as the neck and spine. Besides, we don’t need to; we have hands with opposable thumbs to pick up and carry a cat.

    Some veterinarians will restrain a cat during an examination by scruffing it. However, this technique is going out of favour with veterinarians moving to kinder and more gentle methods.

    Author

    Do cats protect babies

    Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. Full author bio

    Every day we witness kids being transported. Parents haul loads of children to soccer fields all over the country. Moms or dads push strollers or wear backpacks with babies in them. We’re able to carry our kids in our arms or in clever devices, and we take that for granted. But what if you walked on four legs and had no minivan? How would you transport your offspring from place to place? You might have to use your mouth to grab and lift them however you could, right?

    Well, that’s the world cat moms live in. They have litters of tiny helpless kittens that potentially need rescuing and moving sometimes. A resourceful cat uses the only tool that she has, her mouth, to lift and move her kittens – and she grabs them by the neck!

    Do cats protect babies

    It looks pretty shocking to an observer from a species that is able to lift and carry its infants easily. We can hold our babies securely when we carry them, but the cat mom can’t. If her kitty babies squirm or struggle, it is hard for the mother to get them safely from harm’s way in a hurry. But the babies always seem to be completely alright and calm with the transport. They even become motionless and curl up their legs.

    It seems that nature has looked after cat mothers (and many other animal mothers) everywhere. A study in 2013 explored the response of infant mice to maternal transport. The scientists set up scenarios in which mother mice rescued pups when they were removed from the nest and placed inside a cup. The moms rapidly (within 15 minutes) found and retrieved the missing pups and they carried them by the neck, just like cat mothers do. The pups’ responses to the transport were monitored closely. Each pup became motionless and compact during transport. The immobility and curling occurred even when the researchers themselves gently carried the pups, mimicking the maternal grasp. They proposed that it was the touch and sensation of being suspended that induced the pups to become still and they were right. When they applied local anesthetic to the nape of the pups’ necks, the response was dampened.

    The mice pups feel the grasp of their mother and their brains tell them to tuck and freeze, all while feeling calm. The result is that the mother has an easier time transporting the babies to safety. It is very likely that kittens (and most mammals) are wired the same way. What a clever adaption these animals have devised! Don’t worry. Nature has looked out for us too. The same study looked at the response of human infants and they too have some adaptations that calm them where they are carried.

    Do you like learning about cats and kittens? I like sharing about them. Find me on Facebook by clicking here.

    Do cats protect babies

    Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

    My sister’s boyfriend was moving and asked my boyfriend and me to foster his cats until he found an apartment. We agreed, but a couple of weeks before they came to us, the female ran away. We took the male and have had him for two weeks now. Last night, my sister’s boyfriend received a pet miracle and found his missing girl! We agreed to take her in as well. Neither cat is fixed. They are around eight months old. First, how possible is it that she is not pregnant or is not sexually mature? Second, how can I keep him away from her until their vet appointment to get fixed? The vet didn’t have anything for three weeks! He keeps very aggressively trying to have sex with her. She tries to resist, but he is very forceful. We have been able to be around them 24/7 since she came to us, but obviously we will not be able to keep that up long term. Neither are outside cats. In fact, we don’t allow either of them outside at all.

    Thomas: Well, Tay, what you’re witnessing is exactly what comes naturally when two intact cats of opposite sexes are together.

    Bella: At eight months of age, both cats are sexually mature. Female cats can reach sexual maturity as early as four months old. Eek!

    Tara: But the typical age of sexual maturity is around six months.

    Thomas: Hi there, Tara! Thanks for speaking up. Did you ever have kittens?

    Tara: No, I got spayed before I could, thank goodness! I even have a little S tattooed on my tummy to prove I’m spayed!

    Bella: If your boy cat is trying to mate with your female kitty, the odds are very good that she’s in heat and not pregnant. She could, however, be in the very early stages of pregnancy because a female cat will mate several times while she’s in heat.

    Thomas: The act of mating looks very aggressive, and a lot of times the female will resist the male’s advances — it’s just part of the dance. If the boy cat can get the girl after all her resistance, it proves that he’s strong and viable and will help create healthy kittens.

    Bella: Here’s a video of two cats mating. You might be able to see some familiar behaviors here.


    (Can’t see the video? You can watch it here.)

    Thomas: Some people try putting stud pants or diapers on intact cats to keep them from being able to mate, but I don’t know too many cats who would enjoy that.

    Bella: Also, you’d have to use a urine pad or take the diaper off so she could go to the litter box, or things could get pretty gross!

    Tara: Your vet could induce ovulation in your female cat by simulating mating with a tool or swab, which would bring her out of heat for a little while, but she would go back into heat again within a week or so once her body figures out she isn’t pregnant after all.

    Thomas: Unfortunately, if you don’t want them mating, you’re going to have to keep them separated — as in, have one locked in one room and the other locked in another — until the surgery date.

    Bella: Honestly, you may not be able to keep the two cats from each other for three weeks until the spay and neuter appointments. But don’t worry; your vet will still be able to spay the female even if she is pregnant.

    Tara: It’s a bit more risky to spay a pregnant cat because the blood supply to a pregnant uterus is much greater than it is to a non-pregnant one, but it can be done.

    Thomas: In the long run, everything will be okay and you’ll be able to get your kitties fixed with few if any complications.

    Tara: Just in case you’re curious, since the word “spay” seems really weird to describe the removal of a cat’s ovaries and uterus, its origin comes from the late Middle English spayen, which is derived from the Anglo-French espeïer — to cut with a sword — which comes from the Old French verb espeer, which is a derivative of the word espee, or sword.

    Bella: Wow, you’re really smart, Tara! Where did you learn all that?

    Tara: My first human loved words and taught lots of people about cool words.

    Bella: Did you know Mama loves words, too?

    Tara: Of course I did! That’s why I chose her! That, and she knows how to pet cats in all the right places for maximum pleasure.

    Bella: Yes, she was taught very well, wasn’t she?

    Thomas: Anyway, Tay, we hope this helps a little bit. Meanwhile, thank you so much for being responsible and having these kitties spayed and neutered. There are so many unwanted cats and kittens in the world that everything we can do to make sure that doesn’t keep happening is a very good thing indeed.

    Bella: What about you other readers? Have you had to try and keep intact cats from mating? What have you done? Was it successful? Please share your tips in the comments.