What Pregnant Women Need to Know About Cats

Pregnant Woman With Cat

Pregnant mamas, are you concerned about your cat? The list of things expecting moms need to avoid is long, but rest assured, cuddling with your cat is not verboten. During pregnancy, you should take a few very simple safety precautions when it comes to your cat’s care, but in general, most of your relationship to your cat can remain unchanged.

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What’s the Risk?

Any risk that cats present to pregnant women is as a carrier of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can cause birth defects or miscarriages to pregnant women. Toxoplasma gondii is one of the most common parasites around, and can be contracted through raw or undercooked meat, soil, litter, or vegetables planted in contaminated soil. If your cat eats meat with this parasite, they will become a carrier. If infected, cats will go on to shed Toxoplasma gondii in their droppings.

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How to Avoid Contact With Toxoplasma gondii

For indoor cats fed on canned wet food or dry food, the risks of Toxoplasma gondii are extremely low. Outdoor cats are more at risk for contracting the parasite, as are cats that eat raw meat. In general, pregnant women should avoid a cat’s feces and cleaning the litter to remove the risk of exposure to the parasite. If no one else is available to tackle the responsibility, wear plastic gloves while changing the litter, avoid any direct exposure during the task, and wash your hands thoroughly.

While it’s cats that get the bad rap for spreading toxoplasmosis, in reality, the most likely way this disease will be contracted is through eating undercooked meat. Other precautions for pregnant women to follow: wearing gloves while gardening, using a separate cutting board for raw meat and vegetables, and making sure the litter is changed frequently.

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