Cat Litter and Pregnancy

NO, you don’t have to get rid of your cat during your pregnancy

Cat litter and Pregnancy can go together.  You can keep your kitty for as long as you want, which more than likely, would be forever, and a day.  All you have to do is to follow a few steps regarding cat litter, and some other things, and you, your cat, and your baby will be just fine.

In any case, you can’t get rid of your cat because you’re pregnant…it’s inhuman!

Cats provide a great deal of emotional support and help us tremendously with our moods.  Their presence helps to lift their morale, and are wonderful company for many, especially the elderly.


Cat Litter and Pregnancy azcatlitter.com
Cats and The Elderly

Unfortunately, there exists such a thing, known as toxoplasmosis, which can harm an unborn child, and felines are a natural host for this parasite.

The parasite actually reproduces in their intestines, and it gets there in the first place when cats eat undercooked or raw meat, as well as infected prey.  This also holds true to their drinking contaminated water, or unpasteurized milk.

Oocysts

(The definition of ‘oocysts’ is:  A cyst containing a zygote formed by a parasitic protozoan such as the malaria parasite) from the parasite then form in the cat’s gut.  The feline can excrete huge numbers of these oocysts for weeks, and they all end up in the litter box, or wherever they do their business.   These become infectious after about twenty-four hours of their being excreted.  The scary thing about them is that they can remain infectious for up to eighteen months, given the right conditions.  It is during this period of time that they will spread, contaminating everything in their path, like vegetables, fruit, water, and warm-blooded species, which includes us, humans, if we somehow manage to ingest them.

One of the great things about cats is that they rarely carry germs from which humans can become sick.  However, one must bear in mind that although it’s rare, it does happen.  Particular germs from cats can cause diverse illnesses in people.  These range from minor skin infections, to some very serious illnesses.

These issues can easily be prevented by applying some simple health tips and taking your cat for routine vet health-checks.  Please note that it is only in extremely remote cases that people get sick from just petting or touching a cat.

What’s wrong with changing the cat’s litter?


If you’re not pregnant, there is nothing wrong with changing your kitty’s litter.  However, if you ARE pregnant, then changing the litter becomes a whole different ball-game.

The issue here is toxoplasmosis

The real dangers here are if a woman gets toxoplasmosis during pregnancy.  However, it doesn’t have to be YOU to change the litter during your pregnancy.  It’s always much safer to get someone else to do this unpleasant chore.

What is Toxoplasmosis, anyway?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can spread to people and animals through contaminated soil, water, or meat, and contact with stool from an infected cat. Cats are the main source of infection to other animals but rarely appear sick.

Most healthy people who become infected with Toxoplasma show no signs or symptoms. However, pregnant women and people who have weakened immune systems may be at risk for serious health complications.

According to this Center, about twenty percent of those in the US who have had toxoplasmosis are aged twelve, and above.  And they never even knew they had it!  For the majority, there are no serious health problems.

In other words what this means is that it’s a parasitic infection and can be transmitted through your cat’s poop.   This is caused by Toxoplasma gondii, a microscopic parasite.

Toxoplasma_gondii_tachy ascatlitter.com
Toxoplasma_gondii_tachy (picture by courtesy of Wikipedia)

The parasite can be anywhere

It doesn’t have to be in the litter box, as this parasite is also present in soil, or sand, where cats have done their business.

Generally speaking, if you had toxoplasmosis previously, you should be considered as immune; you can’t catch it again.  This will protect your unborn baby from becoming infected.

It’s the firm belief that a third of pregnant women have actually already contracted toxoplasmosis before they become pregnant, so they are safe, and so are their unborn children.

According to research, there are between four hundred and four thousand babies who are born with toxoplasmosis, also known as congenital toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasma_gondii azcatlitter.com
Toxoplasma_gondii

This disease can’t be transmitted between people, other than from the mother to her baby during pregnancy.  Two exceptions to this are through infected blood during a transfusion, or through an infected organ transplant.

However, there are various things you can do to avoid being infected in the first place as will be listed below.

What are the symptoms of Toxoplasmosis?

The symptoms of having contracted this disease are like that of catching the flu.  These might include the swelling of glands, fever, sore throat, as well as fatigue and muscle ache.  Having said that, sometimes, there aren’t even any signs of the illness.

It is a possibility that a pregnant woman can become sick, and then pass the illness to her baby.  This is quite serious for the baby, especially in the early stages of pregnancy, as it can cause birth defects, as well as brain and eye damage.  This disease can lead to miscarriage, or even death after birth.  However, the chances of a pregnant woman getting infected, and transmitting it to her baby, is low.


This is by far not something to be taken lightly,

but before you do anything drastic to your poor and unsuspecting cat, please bear in mind that this disease is very unlikely carried by indoor cats.

A plus in favor of your cat is that if you’ve been a proud cat owner for a long time, you may even be immune to this nasty disease.  But still, just to put your mind at rest, ask your midwife or doctor to have your blood checked out if you’re worried you may have contracted toxoplasmosis.  You’ll sleep better at night, and can carry on loving your kitty like before you ended up carrying a child.

In the worst case scenario where you have been infected during pregnancy, this can be treated, as the medication is available to prevent any serious health problems.  However, both you and your child will need to be monitored during and after the birth.

If a pregnant mother realizes she has the infection, being treated during pregnancy gives the baby a better chance of being healthy when it’s born.

Just to expand your horizons on this disease…cat poop isn’t the only way to contract this.


The following precautions will reduce your chances of getting this nasty infection during your pregnancy:

  • First and foremost, try and get somebody else to clean the litter for you.
  • If there is nobody to do this job for you, you can change the litter daily.  For the litter to become infectious, it takes at least twenty-four hours, so you’ll be fine if you change the litter once a day.
  • Always be sure to wash your hands properly after doing the cat litter.
  • Keep away from stray cats as you never know if they have this infection.
  • Make sure your cat’s not eating raw or uncooked meat.
  • The wearing of gloves helps a great deal.
  • Always wash vegetables and fruit before eating them just in case they came into contact with the parasite.
  • Don’t let your cat out of your home, risking it to contract the disease.
  • Be wary of drinking untreated water.
  • Don’t allow your cat to walk on dining room tables, or where there’s food ready to be served.
  • Make sure your meat is cooked properly, especially lamb, pork, and game, which are the main culprits.
  • Don’t handle raw or undercooked meats, then touch your eyes, nose or mouth as you risk being infected.
  • Stay away from raw eggs.
  • Avoid products made from unpasteurized milk, which includes yogurt and cheese.  Don’t drink unpasteurized milk or products made from unpasteurized milk.
  • Make sure to wash properly, and with hot soapy water, anything that comes in contact with raw food.
  • It is wise to clean your hands properly after you’ve been in contact with animals in a farm, or other places where there are animals, especially sheep, as well as birds, as these can also carry this parasite.

On a very positive note…

There’s no risk of a mother breastfeeding her child as the parasite which causes this infection hasn’t been found in human milk.

To keep yourself and your baby safe, you want to read these books… 

Congenital toxoplasmosis: Scientific Background, Clinical Management, and Control

Prevalence Of Toxoplasma Gondii In Pregnant Women: Toxoplasmosis in pregnant women

Pregnancies, Babies, and Cats (The Practical Guides for Cat Lovers Book 1)

 

(I’d like to hear from you, so please leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve taken something positive, or not, from this blog…)

 

Leave a Comment