When you are pregnant, you will come across a lot of advices and suggestions from people around you about what to do and what not to. One such advice that is commonly given to a pregnant woman is to stay away from cats. Having a cat while being pregnant should not be a terrifying or worrying experience. Pregnancy should be a beautiful thing and all about that glow and mid night cravings. It should not be overshadowed by the many questions and concerns regarding the safety of the pregnant woman and their child. So if are pregnant and own a cat, it can be really difficult to give it away. You can still keep the felines as your pets if you take cautious steps on handling the litter. Read here to know how you can safely deal with cat litter during pregnancy.
Should You Avoid Cats During Pregnancy?
Keeping your furry friends should not be a problem during pregnancy, if you take a few precautions.
- Fur of a cat is safe unless you are allergic to it
- If your cat stays only indoors and does not venture out, then it is considered safe to be around such cats
- Feeding your cat with canned, homemade or well cooked food will make certain that your cat does not catch any infections
- Cat litter can be a bit of a concern during pregnancy and sometimes doctors advise getting rid of cats in the household during the three trimesters
But the fact is, if proper care and precaution is maintained, this may not be necessary.
Risk From Cat Litter During Pregnancy
The primary concern with cat litter during pregnancy is the spread of toxoplasmosis. This is caused by a parasite called toxoplasma gondii and is passed to humans who come in contact with cat litter. Cats get infected when they feed on infected rodents, birds or other small animals. Infected cats and kittens are known to shed millions of parasites through their feces. Usually cats litter in litter boxes or garden soil. If you happen to come in contact with the infected litter and touch your mouth post that, it is most likely that you may get infected.
Pregnant women can pass on this infection via their placenta to their baby if they are infected or have been infected just before pregnancy. Sometimes, you may not even have any symptoms of the disease. In fact, newborn babies might also not show any symptoms, except in some cases where they may have serious eye or brain damage at the time of birth. Some develop serious symptoms such as blindness or mental retardation later in life.
If you have been infected with toxoplasma before pregnancy, your unborn child does not get affected but rather gets protected by your immunity. But if you are planning to have a baby soon after developing the disease, doctors normally ask you to wait for at least 6 months post-recovery.
Precautions While Handling Cat Litter During Pregnancy
Most people who own pets find it emotionally very disturbing to give them away. Though that is normally suggested, pregnant women can also exercise caution with cats to stay safe and deliver a healthy baby. Let’s take a look at some precautions that can be taken.
- If your cat lives indoors and does not go out in search of meat, the chances of you getting infected through cat litter are very slim
- Most cats that get infected with toxoplasma shed the parasites only for a few days and it takes a minimum of 48 hours for the parasites to get active. Therefore, it is best to clean cat litter everyday to prevent any chances of transmission
- Pregnant women may entrust the cleaning of the litter to someone else in the house, but if that is not possible, then it is imperative to use hygienic methods to clean it. A pregnant woman must always wear gloves when cleaning the litter box and must always wash her hands after handling cat’s litter
- It is also advisable for pregnant women to avoid cooking raw meat. If she has to, she must wear gloves and wash hands thoroughly after cooking to prevent getting infected
- It is best to freeze meat for several days at 0 degrees to prevent infection
- All fruits and vegetables from the garden must be cleaned thoroughly before use
- Any dishes/cutting boards/utensils used for cooking raw meat or vegetables/fruits from the garden must be carefully washed after use
- Pregnant women must wear gloves during gardening because the soil could be contaminated with cat feces that might contain toxoplasma. They must wash hands thoroughly with soap every time after gardening
- Avoid feeding raw meat to your cats at home when you are pregnant, so your cat is safe from any kind of infection
- Avoid contact with stray cats and kittens during pregnancy
- If you have sandboxes in your garden, keep them covered to prevent neighborhood cats from littering in them
Pregnancy is a time to stay safe because you need to safeguard the little one growing inside you. Every little thing you do or eat must be done with utmost care to prevent anything untoward. Many people keep pets during pregnancy for emotional support, but utmost care must be taken when you have them at home because they could be a source of infection too. Every careful step taken during pregnancy goes a long a long way to keep you healthy during the three trimesters and ensures a healthy baby.