The Pet Directory Cat Articles - Do Cats & Babies mix? Your Cat, Toxoplasma and Pregnancy

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Cat article on Pregnancy, Cats, Babies and Toxoplasmosis

supplied by Katina Balson
As published in The Pet Directory QLD, NT & WA Edition

It saddens me to see the number of cats that are surrendered for euthanasia or adoption because expectant mothers are told that their family cat is a health risk to their unborn child. Doctors, clinic nurses and worst of all, pre-natal class nurses are spreading this unnecessary scare-mongering.

The reason being that cats may carry the parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis which can be transmitted to humans.

Cats toxoplasmosis pregnancy cat kitten feline human fetus foetus symptoms diagnosis treatment prevention cure pets contact infection cats faeces droppings litter tray vaccine zoonoses

“It is true that toxoplasmosis or toxo we can call it for short can cause brain and eye problems as well as glandular and other illnesses in the unborn child if the mother contracts it during pregnancy.”

The fact is though that it is very difficult to catch toxo from your cat. It is far more likely to contract it from eating uncooked meat, or from cutting boards that haven’t been cleaned properly causing cross contamination to other foods. It is also possible that fruit and vegetables grown in manure can be contaminated.

Cats contract toxo from eating rats, other pray and raw meat. They are infected for a number of weeks and whilst infected, they shed the parasite in their faeces. After 5 days the parasite is “ripe” for re-infection if any one were to ingest the cat faeces.

As a precaution it is not recommended to eat 5 day old cat faeces! O.K. seriously you do have to be careful not to put your hands to your mouth if you may have come in contact with cat faeces which could happen while you are gardening or cleaning cat litter. Better still, wear gloves if you are pregnant, clean litter more frequently (or get someone else to) and practise good hygiene by washing your hands well. Wash your fruit and veg and don’t eat uncooked or underdone meats. The parasite is killed in the cooking process.

In conclusion I believe that giving up moggy during pregnancy is a bit drastic providing you follow good hygiene. Giving up drinking and smoking though, I’d highly recommend.

Tags: cats toxoplasmosis pregnancy cat kitten feline human fetus foetus symptoms diagnosis treatment prevention cure pets contact infection cats faeces droppings  litter tray vaccine zoonoses

NB.  You may have already had Toxoplasmosis and not know it.  If you are pregnant or thinking of pregnancy you can be tested for toxoplasmosis.  The test will show if you carry antibodies to the disease.  Once you have had Toxoplasmosis you CAN’T get it again!  Research shows that there are little to no cases known of Toxoplasmosis being caused by cat ownership.  Contaminated meat or soil are more likely to be the culprits.  Wearing gloves in the garden and while emptying the cat’s litter tray, washing hands after handling cats or their equipment and keeping hands away from mouth are excellent precautions for pregnant cat owners to take.  Also, wash vegetables to remove soil.  Keeping your cat indoors will also help prevent him or her from eating carriers of Toxoplasmosis such as birds or rodents.  Feeding dry food and fish rather than raw meat will also greatly reduce the chances of your cat contracting Toxoplasmosis.

Note: Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a parasite known as Toxoplasma gondii.  Symptoms are very much like that of a bad cold however there are often NO SYMPTOMS with Toxoplasmosis. 

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