This is a guest post by Linda-Marie McDonald RN, BN. Health Writer (and serious cat lover)
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND KEEP ON CUDDLING YOUR CAT
You are pregnant and have a beloved feline in your home. Congratulations on both fronts!
However, you may be a bit worried – because you have heard stories about pregnant women getting sick from their cats’ litter.
Before handing over your cat to your cousin, take a moment and educate yourself.
Your pussycat and future baby will thank you!
What is Toxoplasmosis?
Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a microscopic parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii).
Where is Toxoplasma gondii found?
It is commonly present in rodents, prey, raw meat, soil, and cat litter.
How is it spread?
People are more likely to get toxoplasmosis from eating raw contaminated meat and gardening than from their cats’ litter.
Although there is less risk of picking up the parasite from contaminated cat litter, it is still a risk.
It is essential to understand the parasite’s cycle and how to prevent infection in the first place.
Both indoor and outdoor cats run the risk of exposure to T.gondii if they eat raw meat.
Outdoor cats run a greater risk of picking up this parasite when they eat the prey they catch.
This parasite lives in a cat’s intestine, producing oocytes (eggs), which are shed into their stool.
The incubation period is 1-5 days. After this period, the eggs become infectious.
Who is at Risk?
Any human or animal who ingests contaminated meat, soil, or cat feces.
While many healthy carriers show no symptoms of Toxoplasmosis, immunocompromised individuals can become very sick.
Pregnant women can pass Toxoplasmosis onto their developing baby – possibly causing a severe infection. This transmission can cause serious issues to the fetus (unborn baby) – such as blindness and impaired brain development.
Can I Keep My Cat?
Absolutely. It is essential though, to take precautions to keep yourself and your developing baby safe.
How Can I Protect Myself?
• Have a friend or family member change the litter while you are pregnant.
If this is not possible, take these steps to protect yourself:
- Wear gloves while changing litter.
- Wash hands well with soap and water after changing litter.
- Ensure the litter is changed daily.
These additional steps will add further protection for you and your future baby:
- Avoid feeding your cats any raw, uncooked meat.
- Keep your cats indoors.
- Keep sandboxes covered.
- Wear gloves while gardening, and wash hands well afterward.
- Avoid stray cats, especially kittens
- While you are pregnant – do not get a new cat.
TAKE AWAY: Understand where you could pick up the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
Take the suggested precautions to keep your developing baby and yourself and your cat safe and healthy.
For more information:
Contact Tails to Tell Animal Rescue today if you want to invest your time, talent or treasure in our vision to rescue and find loving homes for stray, injured or abandoned cats and kittens. Phone: (403) 946 – 0400 or email: email@example.com
Visit our information on Volunteering Here: How to Get Involved.