Why It’s A Bad Idea To Get Rid Of A Pet Because A Baby Is On The Way


Published:

© Brandon Atkinson via Flickr

When a neighbor of ours got pregnant, her obstetrician told her to get rid of the cat who had been part of her family for eight years. He said if the cat was around, the baby might have an increased chance of developing an allergy to her.

The cat was packed off to a shelter.

A few years later, at a Rosh Hashanah dinner, I was seated next to a prominent Manhattan OB/GYN who advises all his pregnant clients to get rid of their cats lest they contract some obscure disease that I can’t find a trace of on Google. He is adamant on this point. His patients, all of whom have turned over a large wad of out-of-pocket cash for his advice, tend to comply.

Many dogs have suffered the same fate, abandoned and replaced by a brand-new human out of parental fear that maybe, who knows, but what if the dog hurts the baby? As a result, “it is not uncommon to find unwanted animals at the shelter whose paperwork lists ‘new baby’ as the reason for the surrender.” When new people are born, companion animals are abandoned, often to be killed.

Are expectant parents and their doctors tough-minded pragmatists or irresponsible and cruel?

Expectant Parents: Keep Your Cats And Dogs

Dogs and cats can be wonderful companions for babies and toddlers, not to mention creating even more excuses for parents to post photos of their progeny on Facebook and Flickr:

Canards that cats in particular are hazardous to babies go back at least as far as the bubbe meisis (i.e., old wives’ tale) that cats suck out babies’ breath. Another one is that cats like to lie on babies’ faces and suffocate them. While it “is theoretically possible for a cat to inadvertently suffocate a baby…there are no reliable reports of that ever occurring, and it’s easy enough to block kitty’s access to the crib.” There are reliable reports of parents inadvertently killing a baby by sharing a bed with him. Parental co-sleeping looks like more of a safety risk to babies than cats are.

The newer scare tactics, like the allergy thing, have a more modern veneer of science on them than cats sucking breath, but in most cases it’s a thin one.

My neighbor’s poor cat was tossed out of her home for nothing. According to the latest science, people are less likely to develop allergies to cats or dogs if they grow up with them. Evidence shows that exposure to potential allergens lowers the chance of developing an allergy. That applies even to babies – in fact, the first year of life is the best time for exposure. It also applies before birth: pregnant women who spend time with cats or dogs can pass their resistance to those allergies on to their babies.

The one warning to pregnant women that is well-founded: don’t scoop litter. Toxoplasmosis, a parasite that can be found in feline excrement, is dangerous to fetuses. So keep the cat and get someone else to do the clean up. Expectant moms get a pass on that chore. If anything, that would appear to be a reason to keep the cat.

It’s easy to avoid contracting toxoplasmosis from cats. The true risk factors are “handling undercooked meat and drinking unsanitary water.” Rather than throwing out the cat, women are better off switching to a vegan diet and checking out how clean their local water supply is.

So pets aren’t going to make your child sick. They actually could make her healthier. According to a study published in the journal Pediatrics,

Babies who are in close contact with dogs or cats during their first twelve months of life were found to enjoy better health and were less likely to suffer from respiratory infections, compared to those without any pets in the house or no close contact with these animals.

Kicking out your pet isn’t just unnecessary. It also deprives your kid of some good medicine.

Choosing Between Children And Pets?

To be clear, I don’t advocate putting a child at serious medical risk in order to keep a companion animal, but the risk has to be real before you kick a pet out. When you adopt, take in, or buy an animal, you’re not renting her or letting her hang around until you don’t feel like it anymore. You are taking responsibility for her well-being. Sometimes that entails a little inconvenience to you. When a doctor tells you to abandon the animal, you don’t just do it. You research the issue, seek a second opinion, and do whatever else it takes to become fully informed. Taking a step as drastic as tossing out an animal without bothering to get all the facts isn’t just lazy and irresponsible; it is cruel. And if worse came to worst and you found you truly couldn’t keep your pet, your responsibility doesn’t end. You would need to find a good home – a very good home – not dump her at a shelter.

If you got that cat or dog as an experiment to see what it would be like to have a baby – well, that is a whole other mess. Suffice it to say that the experiment is a big failure if it ends with you throwing the faux child out of your house. Maybe it’s time to rethink whether you really have what it takes to be a parent. Like children, the duty to companion animals is for life.

Piper Hoffman is a writer and attorney with professional experience involving laws and policy related to employment, animal rights, poverty, homelessness, women’s rights, and being childfree.

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

March 21, 2019

Good relationships are a lifeblood while Lady Luna visits Libra. However, the Cosmos has tricks up its sleeve. Venus, the Goddess of Love is in a testing square with Mars and also a soothing sextile with Jupiter. The prior aspect, exact before sunrise…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

March 2019

Sunday afternoon: 3–4:30pm at Hillside Herbals Spring Tonics II: the spring tonic herbs—it's about circulation, assimilation and elimination—tincturing. Rachel has...

Cost: Drop in Fee $10 includes all materials and handouts.

Where:
Hillside Herbals
Jefferson, MA


Sponsor: Hillside Herbals
Telephone: 508-847-8615
Contact Name: Rachel Ross
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
No Events

Show More...
Show Less...

March 20–23 9am-3pm each day Experience transformation guided by Mother Mary. Through Divine vibration, you will be aligned for quicker healing and evolving with mind body spirit and...

Cost: $500

Where:
, MA


Sponsor: The LoveLight Center
Telephone: (207) 216-9584
Contact Name: Cheryl Banfield

More information

The American Center for Bioregulatory Medicine and Dentistry (The BioMed Center) is the most comprehensive center in North America for bioregulatory medicine and dentistry. Come see what...

Cost: Free and open to the public

Where:
111 Chestnut Street
Providence, RI
View map »


Website »

More information

Discover how you can release tight muscles and improve range of motion in locked joints in a weekly ESSENTRICS stretch classes led by Raindrop Fisher, certified Essentrics instructor. Raindrop is a...

Cost: $10 drop-in / $100 for 12 classes

Where:
Village at Waterman Lake
Function Room - Chalet Bldg
715 Putnam Pike
Greenville, RI  02828
View map »


Sponsor: Healthier Fit Lifestyle
Telephone: 401-678-0950
Contact Name: Raindrop Fisher
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

This 8 week series in Tai Chi will provide you with everything you need to get started in a personal Tai Chi practice. Just for Beginners—there is no expectation, and no pressure in...

Cost: $137 for 8 weeks

Where:
Spiral Path Connections
218 Boston Street
Unit 104
Topsfield, MA  01983
View map »


Sponsor: The Spiral Path
Telephone: 978-314-4264
Contact Name: Johanna Hattendorf
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

“All we need is love” the Beatles claimed in 1960’s. In fact, we have been looking for love from the beginning of time. We are conditioned that it is love which brings us...

Cost: $35

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

“Master your breath, let the self be in bliss, contemplate on the sublime within you.” —Krishnamacharya Join us for an evening of deep exploration and transformation using the...

Cost: $30 (some hardship rates available)

Where:
Spontaneous Celebrations
45 Danforth Street
Jamaica Plain, MA  02130
View map »


Telephone: 617-233-6410
Contact Name: Allen Howell, M.Ed.LMHC
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Only $225 if you register for both days! Save $25! Please click here to register for both workshops. This is a 2 day course being held Saturday and Sunday, March 23...

Cost: $125

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street, Suite 1-A
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Former Buddhist monk and world renowned healer, Seth Monk, will be giving a Siddha Healing to our community. Seth will be accompanied by Shannon Fitzgerald, an AromaReiki Master for a beautiful...

Cost: $35

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

Former Buddhist monk and world renowned healer, Seth Monk, will be giving a Siddha healing to our community. Seth will be accompanied by Shannon Fitzgerald, an AromaReiki master for a beautiful...

Cost: $35 early-bird ($40 after 3/19)

Where:
Sohum Yoga and Meditation Studio
30 Lyman Street, Suite 108B
Westborough Shopping Center
Westborough, MA  01581
View map »


Sponsor: www.SOHUM.org
Telephone: 508-329-3338
Contact Name: Ritu Kapur
Website »

More information

In her art and spirit workshops, Melissa combines her gift as an intuitive with her extensive background in painting to help you to work through creative blocks and learn or refine technique. Come...

Cost: $150

Where:
Circles of Wisdom
386 Merrimack Street
Suite 1-A
Methuen, MA  01844
View map »


Sponsor: Circles of Wisdom
Telephone: 978-474-8010
Contact Name: Cathy Kneeland
Website »

More information

Journey back into the experience of peace, harmony and inner power through this unique meditation practice. Explore the power of your thoughts and how they can bring you inner harmony and help you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Inner Space Meditation Center & Gallery
1110 Massachussetts Ave
Cambridge, MA
View map »


Telephone: 617-547-1110
Website »

More information

Psychics, mediums, angel readers, spirit art. Reiki, chair massage, IET, Gaiadon Heart, crystal healings, etc. Sign yourself up for a few appointments and bring your friends! Appointments...

Where:
Women Of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Telephone: (508) 230-3680
Website »

More information

6 Saturdays 10am–11:30am February 23–March 30, 2019 Taijiquan (Tai Chi ) is a healing martial art, using breath and movement together to strengthen the body and quiet...

Cost: $120

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags