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November 17, 2010

Babies and Cats: A Study

In the past two months, having a newborn of my own and talking with a couple of friends with little ones just a few weeks older than Jacob, I have learned a great deal about babies.  Some things I expected to happen with Jacob right away (like looking at me and sucking his thumb) have only just begun or still aren’t happening yet, while others (like rolling over) came about much more quickly than I’d anticipated.  Every week brings something new, and it’s a joy to watch it all unfold.


As I’ve been thinking about my various observations of the little dude, I’ve come to a strange conclusion:  In a lot of ways, very young babies behave a lot like cats.


Now I don’t mean to imply that babies are simply animals.  I believe that a baby is a complete person from the start, and I don’t mean to diminish the integrity of that in any way.


However, so far, baby Jacob and the cats I grew up with have some striking similarities between them.


The most obvious is that when babies fall asleep, it’s often better to just leave them as they are, wherever they are, even if it looks really uncomfortable, even if it looks like maybe you should be supporting their heads a little bit more.  Attempting to rearrange a sleeping baby is about as fruitful as trying to move a sleeping cat. In either case, trying to “fix” the situation will only lead to less sleep and more tears for everyone involved.


Secondly, babies, like cats, generally dislike having their nails trimmed.  I find myself trying to make it easier by playing with Jacob’s hands and fingers even when I’m not cutting his nails, just to get him familiar with the feeling.  This advice came straight from our veterinarian.  What babies have on cats on this front is that babies’ fingernails grow faster than their toenails.  Like, much faster.  Like, Jacob’s fingernails needed to be trimmed immediately after he was born and just about every week since, but we’ve only cut his toenails once or twice.


You know, I’m not sure how that last bit relates to cats, but it’s weird.


Thirdly, at a young age, although the research states their hearing is totally mature, babies often don’t know what to make of the sounds they hear—their names, for instance.  Jacob rarely, if ever, turns to look my way when I call his name for a photo.  When I would do this for the cat, on the other hand, she registered her name and more often than not, she would turn to me.  To be fair, Jacob is only eight weeks old, and I am seeing improvement in this area every day.  And hey, in the meantime, as a friend pointed out, the cat is much older, so she clearly has an advantage.


And finally, babies and cats seem to know when you want to do something simple that doesn’t involve them—like read a book.  Both will end up snuggled in your lap, whether you like it or not.  But just as much with babies as with warm, cuddly cats, who doesn’t like a good snuggle?

  1. […] watching a child play with a toy I’d created would dishearten me.  Children, like cats (do the comparisons never cease?!) tend to find the pieces not meant to be played with and get the most fun out of […]

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