Tragic accident leads to warning about the danger of cats near babies

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

Parents are being urged to keep a close eye on their pets to ensure their children's safety after a baby was suffocated to death by the family cat in the Ukraine.

In what could only be described as a tragic accident, nine-month-old baby girl Alexandra was asleep in her pram in the back yard of the house when one of the family's two cats climbed in and fell asleep on her face.

Her mum Snezhana, 22, was doing housework at the time and when she checked on her baby the cat jumped out of the pram and ran away.

Shocked at what she found, she immediately called the local doctor and the ambulance, but Alexandra could not be revived. She had died of asphyxia. The baby was Snezhana's only child with her husband Alexander.

The local doctor Halyna Zakharchuk rushed to her house, but the baby was unable to be revived, according to a report on Ukrainian TSN News channel.

"I ran there, the ambulance arrived quickly. We could not help… we were trying to resuscitate her for 30 to 40 minutes," the local doctor Halyna Zakharchuk said.

"There was a smell of milk, a warm place, the cat got inside the pram to warm up."

Local policeman Pavlo Darmorgrai said the death was accidental and no other injuries had been found on the baby's body.

Advertisement

"The mother saw the cat lying on the baby…sleeping on her head. The baby was already dead," he said.

"The body was sent to forensic experts. An autopsy was performed. The preliminary opinion of the expert is that it was asphyxia."

Kidsafe Australia has urged parents to keep a watchful eye on pets in the house – to ensure both their children and the pet's safety.

"This accident is unintentional and tragic. You have to be 24 hours alert," said executive officer Kidsafe NSW Christine Erskine said.

"Animals like cats do like to jump, climb and snuggle into small spaces.

"You need to be very conscious about the interaction between the animal and the child and limit access, particularly small children and babies."

It's advised babies are put to bed in safe sleep places, where the pet's access is restricted.

"As a family member, cats, and dogs, are not necessarily child safe or child friendly," she said.

"It's important they don't have direct unsupervised access at various stages of the child's development.

"If you have animals they need to be on your radar because these things (jumping into prams and cots) can happen."

She said there were a number of courses and information sources online to help new parents keep their homes pet safe.

"There are pet safe programs out there," she said. "It is important parents prepare themselves."

Along with restricting access, safe sleep spaces and good ventilation, parents need to also be mindful of a pet's temperament and access to pet bowls and litter trays.