Toxoplasmosis is a rare blood infection which is harmful during human pregnancy.
Cats are a host for the parasite toxoplasma gondii, which causes the toxoplasmosis infection. This does not mean that pregnant women must get rid of their cats. Cats can get the parasite from eating raw meat or wild animals. Therefore, outdoor cats are more likely to carry the parasite, but indoor cats can carry it too (catching mice in the house!)
Here is a list of what pregnant women should avoid when it comes to their cat.
- Do not clean the litter box or come into contact with the litter or waste. Toxoplasmosis is spread through the fecal matter of cats.
- If a pregnant woman must clean the litter box, wear rubber gloves and wash hands thoroughly after. You may also want to wear a face mask to avoid breathing any of the litter dust (which may contain the parasite organisms).
- Toxoplasma gondii is spread through raw meat also, so do not feed raw meat to your cat.
- Keep cats off of the counters to prevent contamination of food or food work surfaces.
- When gardening, wear gloves and thoroughly wash hands afterwards. Cats often use garden beds as a bathroom (your cats, stray cats, or neighborhood cats.)
The Center for Disease Control provides a great pamphlet on their site about Toxoplasmosis and its association with cats and dangers during pregnancy. The CDC provides a very thorough and easy to read explanation of toxoplasmosis. For more information go to CDC: Toxoplasmosis An Important Message for Cat Owners
Jennifer Kean is a writer and pet-lover who owns two rescue kittens (lifetime cat owner too!) and has a 40 gallon fish tank!