If you’re a feline lover just like us, you may be disconcerted by the negative connotations between cats and pregnancy. But rest assured, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your kitty cuddles any time soon. It’s just a question of remaining careful and vigilant in relation to your cat’s sanitation and the risks that can come with changing the litter tray.
So what is this all about?
Cats can carry a disease called toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that manifests in cat faeces, or poo. Toxoplasmosis lives in litter trays particularly, but also in outdoor soil where your furry friend goes to the toilet outside.
Why is taxoplasmosis harmful?
If you are exposed to toxoplasmosis, by coming in to contact with cat feces, the infection can be potentially harmful to a foetus and lead to birth defects.
How do I know if I have it?
Toxoplasmosis can cause flu-like symptoms in adults, but sometimes there aren't any signs of the illness at all. If you think you’ve been infected during pregnancy, you can be treated with medication. But if untreated, it’s possible you could get sick and pass the illness on to your baby. If a baby catches toxoplasmosis in the early stages of pregnancy, it can cause serious birth defects, such as eye and brain damage. If you're worried that you may have the condition, ask your provider to check with a blood test. And if you do contract the infection, you and your baby will have to be closely monitored during pregnancy and after birth.
How can I make sure I don’t get it?
Firstly, before you resort to giving away your kitty, you should take comfort in knowing that indoor cats are very unlikely to carry toxoplasmosis. Also, if you've been around cats for a long time, you may be immune.
There are several things you can do to make sure you don’t contract this infection:
- Get your vet to test for toxoplasmosis in your cat
- Ask someone else to change the litter tray, just to eliminate the risk
- Make sure the tray is changed frequently because it is only after 1 to 5 days that toxoplasmosis becomes infectious.
You can also:
- Opt to keep your cat indoors
- Avoid giving your cat raw meat to prevent it from being exposed to the infection.
- If you do gardening, make sure you wear gloves and wash your hands well. The soil can contain organisms fromcat feces.
FYI, toxoplasmosis is not exclusive to cats. You can catch it from eating raw/undercooked meat or from fruit and veg that haven’t been washed properly. Your body is extra sensitive when your pregnant, so be extra vigilant and take all the precautions you can to avoid being exposed. For more information on toxoplasmosis, consult your doctor.
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