This is to all cat lovers out there who want to get pregnant. Have you heard of toxoplasmosis? It can be dangerous to your future baby, so you should be having second thoughts before cuddling a cat. Let’s find out why.
Why don’t cats and pregnancy go well together?
Cats can be host to the toxoplasma gondii, a parasitic organism that might be in turn transmitted to humans and cause toxoplasmosis. However, to most healthy adults, toxoplasmosis isn’t a dangerous disease. An infection might cause mild flu-like symptoms, but this disease is usually asymptomatic.
It is, however, a different story for pregnant women. Being infected with toxoplasmosis during pregnancy can cause the fetus to be infected as well.
Should the infection take place in the first trimester, this can cause serious problems such as a miscarriage. If the infection takes place in the second or third trimester, there will be milder symptoms. However, the risk of passing the disease to the fetus can have reverberating lifelong effects so if you’re pregnant, it’s best that you be careful about cats.
Cats and pregnancy: How does infection occur?
The toxoplasma gondii enters the human body through the mouth. One of the common ways to get the parasite into your body is eating raw meat. Cats infected with the toxoplasma gondii pass the parasite out of their bodies through feces and should any of the parasites enter your mouth by accident, you might get infected as well.
Contact with the feces or things which have been contaminated by the feces can increase the risk of you becoming infected, so make sure you get rid of the feces while wearing gloves and remember to wash your hands thoroughly after doing so and before having a meal.
If cats and pregnancy don’t go well together, what should I do?
Getting toxoplasmosis once makes one immune to the disease for life, so if you have had been infected with toxoplasmosis before, this means that your baby is free from the risk of infection. However, for those who have had no experience with toxoplasmosis, this means that you have to be extra wary of cats. If possible, stay away from them completely.
If you’re keeping cats now, it might be impossible to avoid them completely even during pregnancy. If you can’t give your cats away, not even for a short while, be very careful about personal hygiene during pregnancy. Once you touch them, you must wash your hands very thoroughly.
Ask your family members to clean up after the cats and dispose of the feces by tying them up in plastic bags. Stay away from the cats’ feces as much as possible. This will help to reduce the risks of you getting infected in the event that your cat is infected.
What about other animals like dogs and pregnancy?
What about pets besides cats? Do dogs, hamsters, birds and other pets pose a danger of toxoplasmosis to pregnant women too? Luckily, they basically don’t. Only cats are able to transmit the toxoplasma gondii to humans through their feces. Other animals have the ability to carry the parasite as well, but they do not pass the eggs of the parasite out through their feces like cats do.
However, remember that science hasn’t yet found all the answers to zoonotic diseases, so no one can say for sure that other animals pose a 0% risk to pregnant women. You might want to keep this in mind and make sure you wash your hands clean and refrain from touching your mouth or eating with your hands after any contact with animals in general.
Enjoy pregnancy life with your cat
There is a chance that the baby isn’t infected with toxoplasmosis even if you are. Also, treatment for toxoplasmosis can be carried out even when you’re pregnant. As long as you’re extra careful about contact with your cat’s feces, and wash your hands exhaustively after touching your cat, the possibility of getting infected with toxoplasmosis is very low.
Not only your baby in your belly but also your adorable cat gives you a big smile. so don’t forget there is always a way to enjoy pregnancy life with your cat!