Feline Toxoplasmosis | Rochester MN
If you're pregnant, it's likely someone has warned you against having cats in your home. There's a lot of fear and misinformation circulating about cats and human pregnancy.
Here's the truth: Cats can get a microscopic, single-celled, protozoan parasite called Toxoplasma that can cause severe birth defects in an unborn child. Hunting cats can get this parasite after eating infected birds, rodents, or other prey. An infected cat usually sheds the parasite in its stool for up to two weeks, with sporadic shedding afterwards.
But you don't have to get rid of your cat. In fact, you are much more likely to be exposed to Toxoplasma from eating undercooked meat or gardening than from your cat. Cats don't carry the organism on their hair coat, so petting them is safe. Listed below are the many ways to avoid exposure to Toxoplasma.
Toxoplasmosis Prevention - Do's and Don'ts
- Wash hands, knives, and cutting surfaces with soap and water immediately after preparing raw meat.
- Boil drinking water when from a questionable source, especially during travel to foreign countries.
- Cover sandboxes to prevent stray cats from pooping in them. Wash hands with soap and water after sandbox play.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating.
- Use gardening gloves, and carefully wash hands after digging in the dirt.
- Litter box care:
- Scoop litter boxes daily. It takes more than 24 hours for Toxoplasma to become infective in the litter box. Daily scooping prevents this.
- Have a non-pregnant person clean the litter box. If this is not possible, use gloves and wash hands afterwards.
- Routinely disinfect litter boxes.
- Don't eat raw or undercooked meat.
- Don't drink unpasteurized milk.
- Don't feed your cat undercooked meat or unpasteurized milk.
- Don't let your cat outdoors. This keeps them from hunting.