Cat Litter and Pregnancy: Must Know Risks

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Many people are fond of keeping pets. Most animals kept as pets are dogs and cats. Being a pet lover requires more than just playing with them. You need to take care of them, play with them as well as clean their litter. All this work become hectic for a woman during pregnancy. Pregnancy is considered to be a joyous event in her life. She needs to take care of herself properly now, her diet should be healthy and she should take complete rest.  Having a cat as a pet near you during pregnancy can be harmful. Let’s find out how?

In this article:

Relationship Between Cat and Woman’s Pregnancy
Toxoplasmosis
Precautions to limit the Risk of Infection

Pregnant Woman With Cat

Relationship Between Cat and Woman’s Pregnancy

Cats can carry the parasite, Toxoplasma gondii known to be infested when they hunt mice or birds and then get lodged inside the intestine of the cat. Later this parasite is transmitted through feces of cats. This can lead to contamination of the pregnant woman via cat litter, known as toxoplasmosis.

Toxoplasmosis

It is characterized as a parasitic disease that can be contracted throughout a lifetime but may be harmful during pregnancy and thus require monitoring. The exposure of it is possible through contact along with contaminated soil or raw meat. In a normal healthy human, symptoms are not usually but if they appear to be as mild flu-like. But in a pregnant woman, if infected, the pregnancy would be harmed. The infection could be passed on to the unborn baby through the placenta, causing several birth defects and even fetal death.

Precautions to limit the Risk of Infection

The infected cat is known to shed the toxoplasma in their feces for a short period. Therefore, oocyst – an infective stage in the lifecycle of the toxoplasma is known to be shed off. Also if the cat is shedding the parasite, it requires about 48 hours for the oocysts to turn infective. Cleaning the litter box daily prevents the transmission. Proper hygiene is important in the prevention of the infection. Hands are to be washed properly after handling the cat’s litter or it is better to wear gloves while cleaning the cat’s litter box. This will prevent transmission.

Another way to prevent transmission is by keeping the cat indoors as much as possible. Avoiding outgoing of a cat can prevent the chances of a cat being infected with toxoplasma. Moreover, raw meat feeding should be avoided along with the allowance to hunt.

Precautions to avoid exposure to toxoplasmosis by cat litter are as follows :

  • The cleaning of cat litter should not be handled by the pregnant woman herself to avoid any contact with the cat feces. Therefore, any other member of the family should clean the litter box.
  • If the above-mentioned step is not possible and the pregnant woman has to herself clean the litter then it is advised for her to wear gloves. After cleaning and removal of gloves it better for her to wash her hands thoroughly and properly.
  • Daily cleaning of the litter box is recommended to avoid the oocyst formation, which requires 48 hours to be infective.
  • Gardening or working with the soil during pregnancy also requires precaution. Wearing gloves to rule out the contamination through soil can be done.
  • Handling of raw ingesting meat should be avoided by the pregnant woman or wearing gloves during the preparation of meat and later washing hands properly prevents the spread of infection.
  • Any fruit or vegetable directly obtained from the garden should be washed thoroughly before ingestion.
  • Washing of hands is a must before eating or handling any food by the pregnant woman.
  • Avoid feeding the cat with raw meat during pregnancy.
  • Keeping the cats indoor is helpful.
  • Proper covering of the sandboxes kept in the gardens when not used to prevent defecation in them by the neighborhood cats.
  • Sleeping along cats is also considered risky. Therefore, it is better to let the cat sleep away from a pregnant woman.

Such simple precautions can help in preventing pregnant women from toxoplasma.

Conclusion

Toxoplasmosis is a harmful infection during pregnancy. A pregnant woman needs to be aware of it to prevent any harm caused to her baby. A simple blood test can help to diagnose whether the pregnant woman is infected with toxoplasma or not. But if proper precautions are taken one can easily prevent the transmission of the infection.

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