Here at BCR, we get a lot of emails asking for advice. And a very common thread is cats and pregnancy. There's a lot of fear mongering out there, about the affects of toxoplasmosis on an unborn baby. While I will never EVER tell anyone not to worry about the health of their child, I can tell you that you can have a cat (or 6) and still have a happy and healthy pregnancy, without the heartbreak of losing a family member.
Let's break it down!
How do pregnant women get toxoplasmosis from cats?
Answer: By eating poop. Seriously. You have to get particles of feces in your mouth to contract toxoplasmosis. Most people I know are cautious enough while scooping the litter box on a regular day, that they aren't flinging poop into their mouths, or eating a sandwich directly after.
The first trimester of my pregnancy, I wore a bandana over my face while scooping to ensure that I wouldn't accidentally ingest the smallest dust particle with a toxic dingleberry clinger.
Because pregnancy brings a little bit of paranoia! Small amounts are healthy right?
During my second and third trimesters, my partner scooped for me.
There were are few factors that decided this.
1: I was getting more and more full of baby. Bending was less and less fun.
2: Some studies have found that your likelihood of contracting toxoplasmosis increases as your pregnancy progresses.
3: Why the heck wouldn't I use the perfect excuse to not scoop poop!?
Let's say that you are a single mom, or your significant other is being a significant jerk about scooping poop for your majestically awesome life creating self.
What can you do?
1: Keep your cat inside. Cats get toxo from rodents. If your cat isn't hunting and eating mice, you have nothing to worry about.
2: Scoop the box every day.
As someone with multiple cats, scooping the box on a weekly schedule, rather than a daily one is a foreign concept to me. However, I know that with only one butt, the litter box can be ignored a little bit longer. Don't do it! The oocysts that cause toxo need 3 days to sporulate. If you scoop the litter boxes every day, or even promptly after a poop, the life cycle is broken, and there is nothing for you to catch.
3: Cover your mouth and hands while scooping the box.
You can use a bandana, or a dust filtering mask. You can use disposable latex gloves, or shmexy purple dishwashing gloves that make you feel like a 50's housewife. If your hands and face don't come into any contact with poop, you're safe. Also, wash your hands. Its just good manners.
4: Bathe/wipe your cat.
Those adorable little bean feet walk in the litter box. You can always wipe down their feet, or go full on spa day, to really feel safe! Granted, unless your cat is leaving chocolate footprints on your pillow, this might be more than you need to do.
There is a blood test that your vet can do to see if your cat is carrying toxoplasmosis. Its in the ballpark of $40. Instant peace of mind!
Moral of the story?
30 years ago, we didn't know what we do now.
Some doctors are giving very outdated advice: Cat, or baby.
This is ...poop.
BCR's Captain had 12-18 cats and kittens running amuck during her pregnancy, and used common sense, and basic hygiene. All was well with the world.
Don't let anyone bully you into breaking up your family.
Do you really want the first thing you do for your baby to be an act of cruelty?
Or do you want to welcome them into a world filled with love and purrs?
The Captain of Browncoat Cat is a self proclaimed crazy cat lady. Of course, we're all mad here...