Cats, pregnant women and babies have coexisted happily for thousands of years, and there is absolutely no reason you have to give up your cat when you’re pregnant. A few common sense precautions will keep mom, baby and kitty safe.
Toxoplasmosis is rare
Obstetrician frequently alarm pregnant women by warning them about toxoplasmosis, a disease that can cause birth defects. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite that causes the disease can be found in the feces of cats who eat infected mice, birds, raw meat, or contaminated soil or water.
The truth is that toxoplasmosis is rare in the United States, and the highest risk of contracting the disease does not come from cat feces, but from eating raw or undercooked meat or unwashed fruit and vegetables, or from gardening in contaminated soil.
Many people acquire immunity to toxoplasmosis
According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 60 million men, women, and children in the U.S. carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because a healthy immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.
Take simple precautions during pregnancy
- Litter boxes should be scooped daily. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in a cat’s feces. Have someone else perform this task. If that’s not an option, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards.
- Keep your cat indoors. Toxoplasmosis is extremely rare in indoor cats.
- Eating raw or undercooked meat is the most common cause for toxoplasmosis. Pratice safe food handling. Wash off all surfaces and utensils that touched raw meat, and don’t prepare meat and raw foods like salads on the same surface. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling raw meat.
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating.
- Don’t drink untreated water.
- Wear gloves when gardening, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
- Cover outdoor sand boxes to prevent cats from using them as litter boxes.
- If you have children, educate them about the importance of washing their hands.
- Avoid contact with stray cats.
All it takes is a little common sense and basic hygiene to reduce your risk of exposure during pregnancy. Giving up your cat is not necessary!
This article was previously published on Answers.com and is republished with permission.