and Cats--A Myth Exposed
times a month at Red Door Animal Shelter we get calls from women
thinking that they must give up their cats because they are expecting
a baby. We are surprised that this old wives' tale is still being
passed around! It has long been known that cats and pregnant women
can live safely and happily together.
infection is largely responsible for perpetuating the myth that
pregnant women and cats cannot coexist. Toxoplasmosis is a parasite
that cats can sometimes contract if they eat undercooked meat or hunt
for prey outside. Felines who live strictly indoors and eat dry and
canned cat foods are at minimal risk for infection.
toxoplasmosis doesn't just come from cats. Individuals can also
contract the parasite from working outside or by eating undercooked
or unwashed foods. You are more likely to get toxoplasmosis
from eating undercooked meat or unwashed produce than you are from
is indeed dangerous to pregnant women and persons with compromised
immune systems, but simple precautions will protect against getting
the rare instance that a cat is infected, he can pass the infection
through his feces for a few weeks after the infection is contracted.
Therefore, if you are pregnant, it would be ideal to enlist another
family member to clean your cat's litter box for the duration of your
pregnancy. Even if this is not possible, there is no need to
worry÷simply wear disposable gloves, clean the box daily, and
wash your hands afterward. Continue to practice safety by washing
all produce you eat and washing your hands after gardening or working
outside. If you're a meat-eater, be sure to cook all meats
thoroughly, as well as everything that comes into contact with meat,
such as knives or cutting boards.
Centers for Disease Control, the nation's leading authority on
infectious diseases, agrees that pregnant women do not have to give
up their cats. Learn more about toxoplasmosis at the CDC website.