Your doctor, midwife or a friend or family member may have told you that you will have to get rid of your cat during your pregnancy. You may also have read in pregnancy books that cats pose a risk to you and your unborn baby. The good news is that this is an outdated idea although you may want to take some precautions with regards to your kitty while you are pregnant.
Cats pass a disease called toxoplasmosis in their feces that is found in other animals that the cat eats or comes into contact with such as mice, birds and or contaminated raw meat. The disease is parasitic in nature and goes through a series of stages in their life cycle.
Unfortunately, the parasites are in the infectious stage when they are passed in the feces. However, infection can only occur from ingestion and since you aren’t exactly going to eat cat feces, the risk of contracting the disease from your cat is relatively low. You aren’t going to get the disease from the odor of cat feces or urine or even touching or playing with your feline friend.
There are some precautions that you should take to ensure that you and baby stay safe:
If your cat lives only indoors and never has access to catching or eating rats, mice or other animals, it is less than likely that they have toxoplasmosis. A cat that does go outdoors is more likely to contract the disease without your knowledge.
It is important to note that they can also contract the disease from digging in soil and not just from eating raw meat or their prey. However, a cat is likely to only be infected once and build up an immunity to the disease after that. This makes it even less likely that you can contract the disease from their feces.
Some precautions you can take to minimize the risk even further if you are still concerned about contracting toxoplasmosis include:
– Wash your hands after petting or playing with your cat. Feces may remain on their feet or fur that could be passed to your hands and ingested if you place your fingers in your mouth or eat with your hands after contact with your cat.
– Avoid feeding your cat raw meat. Raw meat is the most common way that cats and other animals contract the disease.
– Get yourself a cat litter disposal system to effectively get rid of soiled cat litter and to prevent them from digging in the soil outdoors.
– Ask another family member to clean out the litter box and don’t do this yourself.
Although toxoplasmosis is mostly not dangerous for humans, the disease can result in birth defects (malformation) as well as miscarriage if the disease is contracted during pregnancy (especially in the first trimester). However, the risks from contracting the disease from your cat are extremely low and it is more likely to get it from working in the garden or eating contaminated meat.
If you are still worried, speak to your doctor about your concerns and ask about any additional precautions that you can take.