My husband and I got a cat in our second year of marriage. We were not ready for kids yet and we thought a pet would be nice to care for together and a good precursor to a kid. My husband is fond of all animals but I am partial to cats. We were in the US then and we got a kitten from the animal shelter.
She was tiny, vulnerable and adorable and we fell in love with her. 2 years later we decided to have a baby and move back to India. Our cat was a great source of comfort to me during bad days of morning sickness. She would sit on my lap and purr while I petted her and the company made morning sickness bearable.
We moved back to India when I was 5 months pregnant and bringing our cat back half way across the world was quite complicated, but we did not have the heart to leave her behind.
In my experience cats don't hurt babies:
When my daughter was a new born some people asked me if I was concerned about cat hair bothering the baby. But actually research shows that exposing an infant to pet cats or dogs helps build their immune systems and lowers the risk of allergies.
Some others asked if I was concerned about the cat hurting the baby. Here of course I cant speak for all cats but our cat never hurt our daughter no matter what she did to her including pulling her tail till our daughter was properly mobile at about 15 months. Our cat would just walk away when our daughter bothered her too much.
Cats are low maintenance:
The cat was also a good choice. They are very cute and enjoy being petted. They are also low maintenance. As far as looking after them goes, you just need to provide food, water and a litter box. Nowadays cat food and litter are easily available in most supermarkets and online grocery stores. Other pet supplies are also available in stores like pepperfry. Cats are very clean and graceful. Ours is also quite playful and plays "fetch" with little plastic objects when she is in a good mood.
We also leave the cat at home and go away on holidays for 5 to 7 days. As long as we arrange for someone to provide her with food and water daily and change her litter she does not seem to mind too much.
A pet can be a great companion for your child:
Growing up my daughter has spent hours playing with our cat. I have had time to get chores done while she played with the cat. She loves the cat and by extension most animals. She does not fear animals and shows keen interest in learning about them. The first books she showed interest in, were those about cats. She was a shy baby, but if anyone mentioned cats or dogs to her, she would happily talk to them.
She accepts the cat as a family member. I hope this helps teach her to accept and treat with compassion and respect all humans and animals.
My daughter loves to cuddle the cat and sometimes gets over enthusiastic and squeezes her too hard. Initially our cat walks away but if she persists to squeeze her or pull her tail the cat waves her paws at my daughter and scares her away. I believe this is a good way for my daughter to learn boundaries and to respect and give space to those who want it.
My second daughter is still an infant and looks curiously at the cat. I hope she too will benefit as much as my older one has from her relationship with our cat.
Be safe and responsible:
While pets are wonderful it is important to be safe and ensure that your pet has all the necessary vaccinations and health check-ups for your pet's sake and yours. You can also use interaction with pets for an older child to learn responsibilities. For example you can make your child responsible for giving the pet food and water once a day.