If you are a cat owner and you are pregnant, maybe you should consider taking some wise steps regarding the cat litter box. The main reason for this is that cat litter boxes may contain some parasites or bacteria that could be harmful for your pregnancy.
A dirty cat litter box poses a risk to the cat’s health, and it also causes health issues for family members, especially during pregnancy or people with weak immune systems. One of the most feared germs present in some cat litter boxes is Toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the protozoal parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Toxoplasma always hails as point of worry for pregnant females and doctors often advise them to get rid of any feline pet at home. However, to avoid losing the beloved pets, one must use a lot of focused precaution by understanding a few rules of thumb, during a pregnancy.
How cats transmit Toxoplasmosis to pregnant women?
Toxoplasmosis gondii, lashes out from the waste produced by a hosting cat. This acute form of protozoan infection is quite contagious. It is easily passed from manipulation with contaminated cat litter or litter box items. If a person, in a delicate health condition, like a new mother to be inhales the ills of this infection, she may become dangerously threatening to her unborn baby, or the fetus and this may end up quite detrimentally, via the placental barrier and the bloodstream, triggering the possibility of birth defects, or even death of the unborn child.
Luckily, most cats who become infected with this disease, shed the remnants of this organism within their fecal matter only, for a very brief time. One must be extra careful while feeding their cats with the harmful stuff such as the raw meats and avoid a close contact, especially in the expecting phase of life. It takes almost two days for a cat to complete shed the parasitic contents of the protozoan organism and a heightened degree of hygiene is required to prevent the contamination of infection from the litter box of a cat.
Do all cats pose a risk for a pregnant woman?
Not all cats have Toxoplasma. Almost one-third of cats in the U.S. are positive when tested for T. gondii antibodies in their blood. If you have an only-indoor cat from very early stage of life and you have never fed it raw meats, most likely this contagious parasite won’t be present in the cat litter box. However, you must play it safe on this matter and follow basic precautions to avoid contact with waste fumes during pregnancy.
Other sources of Toxoplasmosis transmition
This disease can be transmitted also when in contact with contaminated soiled earth (for example, not washing hands after contact with soil when gardening or eating fruits or vegetables without proper wash). Also, by ingesting contaminated raw meats.
What to do if you are pregnant and have a cat
Let’s go through the set of precautions, to battle away the risks of infection from cat litter, during the pregnancy phase:
- If you are pregnant you should avoid contact with dirty cat litter. The task of scooping the litter box should be done by another member of the household. A good idea is getting an automatic litter box such as the Litter Robot Connect that not only self-cleans every time your cat uses it, but it also notifies on your Connect App when it’s time to empty the litter box. This way the family member en-charged of doing this duty won’t have to scoop at all and will only need to empty the waste drawer every 7-12 days with a single cat.
- The litter box of the cat must be routinely cleaned in a thorough way, disinfecting the box every time if possible. There are several ways to keep the litter box odorless for better hygiene.
- In case it’s necessary for a pregnant owner to come near and clean the litter box, she must wear gloves and a mask to safeguard herself against the potential contamination.
- Great precaution must be practiced during the cooking and ingestion of raw meat, as it is often contaminated with this parasitic disease, Toxoplasmosis. You must cook meats perfectly to kill this parasite properly. According to Center for Food Security & Public Health, Toxoplasmosis parasite dies at 152 degrees Fahrenheit so make sure to cook meats at that temperature for at least 10 minutes. Even though this precaution is not related to the litter box, it’s good to mention this point to avoid getting this parasite from food.
- A pregnant lady must pay special attention to the hygiene and sanitary of her hands, especially during cooking.
- The homegrown green and vegetative matter must be washed many times, as pet cats may often litter them, too.
- One must properly cover the sandboxes used by the children, as there is a possibility that the cats from the neighborhood, as cats may litter them too through defecation.
- Don’t feed the cat raw meats or unwashed raw vegetables. Also, avoid letting your cat to go outside.
Symptoms when infected with Toxoplasmosis
This disease doesn’t cause obvious symptoms in adults. When symptoms are present the infected person could experience a few weeks of mild flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and sensitive lymph nodes. Very occasionally eye problem could develop as well.
Being a pregnant female and while having a feline pet at home, one must attribute a careful degree of attentiveness and caution, to avoid the risky effects of infection through a cat litter box.
Consider that if you have a cat it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s infected with Toxoplasmosis, but it’s a good rule to keep the mentioned steps as a preventive measure.