If you’re pregnant, you should always be concerned about contracting toxoplasmosis from your cat. It is a common enough disorder affecting pregnant women with cats around the world. Doctors have ordered multiple women to get rid of their feline friends for the duration of their pregnancies. However, you might not need to get rid of a beloved pet for your pregnancy. If you take the right precautions around the house, you can actually protect yourself from this condition.
One thing to remember is that it is almost never the cat itself that causes the condition. Most cats are indoor pets. They stay in the house at all times. Owners almost never let them out to go hunting or to eat raw animal meat. The truth is, the chances of you getting toxoplasmosis from raw vegetables are higher than from a cat.
What is toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is caused by a parasitic organism called toxoplasma gondii. It is most commonly passed on to humans when they come into contact with the feces of their cats in the litter box. It is also possible to contract the disease when you’re exposed to raw meat or to soil contaminated with the parasite.
If you’re a normal, healthy adult, you probably won’t feel the deadlier effects of the disease. You will experience symptoms that resemble the flu. Sometimes, you won’t even contract symptoms at all. All of this changes when you’re a pregnant woman, though. If you become infected with the parasite while pregnant, it will pass on to your child through the placenta. Your baby could be born with severe birth defects, or even die in the womb.
When handling your cat litter pregnancy should be taken into account. You can’t become a threat to your child if you have the condition prior to conception, though. It is only dangerous if contracted during your pregnancy.
What Precautions Can I Take?
You can’t negate the risk of toxoplasmosis by 100% when handling kitty litter. However, most of the people who do get the disease get it from the soil or raw meat. The small risk there is of your litter infecting you can be taken away (for the most part) by taking some basic precautions.
First, remember that your cat could shed the organisms, but it would still take at least 2 days from the time of shedding for the parasites to become contagious. This means that the best way to prevent the infection is to clean out the litter box every day. You can also prevent infection by being hygienic – clean your hands off after handling litter and wear gloves while cleaning it out.
Another good preventative measure to take is to stop your cat from leaving the house at any time. They can only become carriers if they contract the parasite from the outside. Do not expose your cat to raw meat, and do not let them hunt outdoors.
When handling cat litter directly, here are some precautions to take:
1. If at all possible, try to avoid contact with litter as much as possible. Do not come into direct contact with your cat’s feces either. Get someone else to clean it out while you are pregnant.
2. Should you be called on to change the litter or clean it, wear gloves. This simple act, followed by washing your hands after you are done, can prevent nearly all instances of toxoplasmosis.
3. Clean out the litter box every single day without fail. The parasite has a 48 hour incubation period. Cleaning it out before that time passes makes it impossible for it to become contagious.
4. If you’re working out in the garden and coming into contact with soil, wear gloves. Any soil outside could have been used as litter by other cats in the area.
5. Do not touch or eat raw meat. If you have to make food like steaks, use gloves and always sanitize your hands. If you are eating a steak, get it well done.
6. If you have your own garden and you’re eating fruit or vegetables you picked from it, remember to wash all of them properly.
7. Always wash your hands before eating any food.
8. Do not feed your cat any raw meat. Keep your cat indoors at all times.
9. If you have a sandbox for your kid in the garden, keep it covered so cats from the local area don’t use it.
By taking the right precautions and sticking to them, you won’t have to say goodbye to your cat when you’re pregnant!