Pregnant women beware: A recent study published in the journal BMJ Case Reports has documented an increasing number of attacks by domestic cats on pregnant women.
In most cases, the cats inflict minor scratches and bites, but in some instances more serious injuries have been sustained, including a broken arm. What could be causing these felines to behave so aggressively towards pregnant women?
Here in this blog post, I’ll discuss some of the possible explanations for this strange behavior and offer some advice on how to protect yourself while you’re expecting.
Possible Explanations for Why This Might be Happening
Here I’ll explore some of the reasons why cats might be acting aggressively towards pregnant women.
1. May Unknowingly Emit Certain Chemical Signals
One possible explanation is that pregnant women may unknowingly emit certain chemical signals – either through their skin or in their breath – that are attractive to cats. This could be due to changes in hormones, pheromones, or other physiological factors related to pregnancy.
A study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior offers some support for this explanation, as it found that pregnant rats release chemicals that are attractive to cats.
2. May Be Misinterpreted as a Threat
Another possible reason is that pregnant women may be perceived by cats as a threat. This could be due to changes in body language or other forms of communication that are unique to human pregnancy.
For example, a pregnant woman may move more slowly or cautiously due to changes in her sense of balance, making her seem like an easy target for attack. Similarly, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol could prompt cats to perceive a pregnant woman as being high-risk and potentially dangerous.
3. Sudden Growth of Hair on the Body
A popular explanation is that a sudden growth of hair on the body during pregnancy – such as under the arms or around the ankles – may be interpreted by cats as being something to fear.
This could make them more likely to attack and bite, especially if they feel threatened or startled in any way.
4. Territorial Behavior
Another possible explanation is that cats may simply be engaging in territorial behavior. This could be due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, which may make women more assertive or intimidating to animals living nearby.
In addition, some people believe that the increase in belly size during pregnancy can lead to greater confrontations with territorial cats, as it sometimes prevents women from moving away or defending themselves effectively.
5. Stressful Pregnancy in the Cat’s Perspective
Another hypothesis is that a particularly stressful pregnancy from the cat’s perspective may cause them to lash out more often. This could be due to increased stress or anxiety levels, changes in appetite or metabolism, or other factors related to pregnancy in cats.
Of course, there are likely many other potential factors that could contribute to this behavior, and more research is needed to fully understand the underlying causes.
6. May Misinterpret Cat Behavior
I know this is a controversial one, but some people believe that pregnant women may simply misinterpret cat behavior and fail to understand that the animal is just trying to play or interact.
For example, many cats will purr when they are being petted or stroked, which may seem like an act of aggression to someone who isn’t familiar with cats.
7. Stress and Anxiety
Finally, it is possible that cats are simply responding to the stress and anxiety experienced by pregnant women. This could be due to fear of delivery, worries about motherhood, or other concerns related to pregnancy.
Whatever the reason, pregnant women should always take extra precautions when dealing with cats, both inside and outside their home.
What May Happen If a Cat Bites a Pregnant Woman?
There is no definitive answer to this question, as there have been relatively few studies investigating the possible health effects of cat attacks on pregnant women.
However, some experts believe that such attacks may increase the risk of miscarriage or other complications during pregnancy. Other potential consequences may include:
Protecting Pregnant Women From Cat Bites and Scratches
When it comes to protecting a pregnant woman from cat bites and scratches, there are several important steps that should be taken to minimize the risk of injury.
1. Avoid Aggressive Cats
First and foremost, pregnant women should do their best to avoid aggressive cats or situations that may put them at risk. This could mean staying away from outdoor feeding areas or other high-risk locations, and avoiding contact with individual cats who have a history of biting or scratching.
2. Exercising Caution Around Cats
In addition, pregnant women should take extra care when interacting with cats, avoiding sudden movements or other behaviors that might provoke an attack.
This could include speaking calmly and gently when petting or feeding a cat, as well as keeping one’s distance and paying close attention to their body language.
3. Use Special Equipment
In addition, pregnant women may want to consider using special protective equipment such as safety gloves or even a full-body suit designed to make them less attractive to cats.
This can help reduce the risk of injury, regardless of whether the cat is acting defensively or out of pure curiosity.
4. Get Help From Others
Pregnant women should always enlist the help of others when dealing with potentially dangerous cats, especially if they are feeling stressed or anxious themselves.
This could involve getting someone else to feed outdoor cats or maintain their litter box, as well as asking friends and family members for assistance when dealing with aggressive cats.
5. Use Caution Around Cats That Are Lactating
Finally, it is also important to exercise caution around cats who are lactating and may be more protective of their kittens. This could include staying away from feeding areas or keeping one’s distance when interacting with the mother cat and her kittens.
My Final Thoughts
As you can see there are several reasons why pregnant women should be especially cautious around cats, both inside and outside the home. These risks include infection, injury, and stress, as well as possible complications during delivery and negative impacts on child development.
To protect yourself and your baby from these dangers, it is important to take extra precautions when interacting with cats, such as using special equipment or getting help from others. And if you are ever in a situation where you feel anxious or stressed around cats, it is always best to seek professional support and guidance.