The early stages of pregnancy can be a very exciting but also a very worrying time, and one of the concerns that many pregnant women have is becoming infected with toxoplasmosis.
This is a parasitic infection that can be present in cat litter and cat feces, so if the pregnant woman comes into contact with infected feces then it can be passed on to the unborn baby which can cause serious birth defects.
Although the condition is very rare, it can also be very serious so it is well worth taking some simple precautions if you are in the three first months of pregnancy to avoid having to give away your beloved family pet:
The best precaution to take is to ask another member of the household to change the litter tray. This will, of course prevent you from coming into contact with any of the litter or cat feces.
If this is not possible, then you should change the litter box on a daily basis as it takes 48 hours for the organisms in the feces to become infective if your cat is infected with toxoplasmosis.
If you do have the change the litter tray, then you should wear disposal rubber gloves and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Other precautions to take include wearing good quality gardening gloves if you are digging in soil, as you never know when you may come across cat feces in the garden from your own cat or neighbouring pets. You should also wash your hands thoroughly after coming into contact with any cats and keep children’s sand play areas covered just in case.
It is worth bearing in mind that even having said all of the above, it is very unlikely that you will pick up any infections from your cat, especially if they stay indoors and don’t eat any raw meat. You may also be immune if you have been around cats for some time.
Coming into contact with cat litter is not the only way that you may become infected with toxoplasmosis, as the parasite can also be found in unwashed vegetables or undercooked meat, so it is worth taking extra precautions when handling and cooking food as well.
There are plenty of things to be thinking about in the first few months of pregnancy, so make sure that toxoplasmosis is not one of these by minimising any contact that you need to have with cat litter. However, if you do have concerns and feel that you may be at risk then you can contact your GP or midwife for a blood test.
You can then enjoy the months ahead with planning for your new arrival, and making sure that the family pet is part of all of this.