Baby bumps attract a lot of attention, don’t they? Strangers assume you’re “ready to pop” when you’ve actually got three months left. Elderly ladies stroke your bump like it’s their pet cat.
Speaking of cats, your own cat is obsessed with your bump, snuggling up to you more than ever. What’s up with that?
Research can’t tell us for sure, but here are some possible reasons your cat and your baby bump are new best friends.
If you can’t find your cat, check the rectangle of sunlight in your living room, or the pile of clean laundry fresh from the dryer. Cats need to maintain a higher body temperature than humans do, so they conserve energy by seeking outside warmth (source: Cat Ranch Rescue).
Maybe your cat has always been snuggly, but you might notice he’s now by your side every time you sit down. Because your body temperature is slightly higher when you’re pregnant, your bump is the perfect place for a cat to cozy up to (source: Animal Path).
So you’re probably feeling too warm, and he’s constantly making you warmer. But if he’s not annoying, is he even a cat?
You’re pregnant, so you’re already well-acquainted with changing hormones and all that they bring: fatigue, food aversions or obsessions, nausea. There’s no evidence these hormones release a scent, like some hormones do during puberty, but it’s definitely possible.
Because your cat has a heightened sense of smell, his interest in your bump could be him checking out some new and exciting smells (source: Healthline).
It might not just be the new scents attracting his attention. Cats are naturally curious animals. They’re sensitive and perceptive, so when something new invades their territory—like a large bump where your lap used to be—he’s bound to investigate.
Friend or foe? And, ooh—it’s warm. Once he gets used to your bump, he’ll have found his new happy place.
He may also sense that you’re not quite yourself. Your moods are up and down, you’re bringing weird foods into the house, and even the way you walk is different.
Some women report their cats get really clingy and follow them around the house. As soon as you put your feet up, he might be right beside you, trying to sniff out what’s going on.
Warmth, hormones and curiosity may play a part in this, but it could be a much simpler reason: your increased fatigue and constant cat-napping means there are more opportunities for your cat to curl up next to you.
It’s a win-win: you get to lie down longer because you’re stuck under a cat, and he’s in snuggle heaven.
Every Cat is Different
The theoretical cat in this article may sound nothing like your furry terror. Some cats act like jealous older siblings. They sense change is on the way, and their reaction is to shred the couch or poop on the floor. Even when the baby arrives, your cat might act out, keenly aware that he’s not the baby anymore.
Don’t worry—just like an older sibling, eventually he’ll get used to it. Try to keep his routine consistent: meal times, play time, outside time if he’s allowed.
Some women have raised concerns about their cat’s heightened interest in their baby bump. Will the cat’s warmth make it too warm for the baby? Is the cat too heavy on top of the bump? And what about allergies, or worse, toxoplasmosis?
Although a cat’s temperature is higher than humans’, it’s not hot enough to significantly raise your own. Worst case, you get all hot and bothered and need to shove the cat off your lap.
A cat’s weight isn’t enough to harm the baby, but it might get uncomfortable after a while, especially as your belly gets bigger. By the end, you probably won’t want anyone or anything touching you, including your cat.
Sometimes changing hormones give pregnant women temporary allergies, or make existing ones even worse. If you get itchy eyes or blotchy skin, you can always ask your doctor or pharmacist for suitable allergy medicine.
Cat feces can contain a parasite which causes toxoplasmosis, a dangerous infection for a fetus. Still, unless your cat has fecal matter stuck in his claws, a snooze on your stomach won’t put your baby in danger.
Get someone else to change the cat’s litter tray while you’re pregnant, or if that’s not possible, wear gloves (source: My British Shorthair).
So, let the cuddling continue. Even if your cat’s clinginess is driving you crazy, a cozy, purring cat can help lessen stress levels—exactly what you need during this season of change.