When you’re pregnant, many things – like undercooked meat, fish, and caffeine – are prohibited. Pet parents should also add cleaning the family cat’s litter box to their list of no numbers whenever possible. While this daily chore is one that most people would love to give up without question, according to Dr. Stephanie Austin, Veterinarian and Medical Director at Bond Vet, shared some key scientific discoveries that support her.
Read on to learn why pregnant people should consider delegating this important but gross task to someone else.
Why are cat feces so dangerous for pregnant women?
“When people think of diseases that can be transmitted from cats to humans, they often think of toxoplasmosis,” said Dr. Austin. “Toxoplasmosis is a disease that results from infection by the parasite ‘Toxoplasma gondii’. Humans can also do this by eating infected meat alone, as well as from various other sources, including handling infected soil.”
She stressed that consistent application of good hand hygiene after completing the litter boxes is critical. “Cats are usually infected by eating contaminated meat or another cat’s infected feces. If your cat is infected, it is important to have very good hygiene standards and hand washing when handling their feces,” she said. “It’s also generally a very good idea to wash your hands thoroughly after a bowel movement. If you pick up infected feces after cleaning the litter box, you can become infected too. This can be an even greater risk for pregnant women, as the.” risks associated with transmission are increased during pregnancy. “
What should pregnant women do when they need to clean the litter box?
Dr. Austin suggested taking a look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines that recommend feeding cats only canned or dry food and cleaning your kitten’s litter box every day. She also provided some insight into the precautions to take if you don’t have a partner to do the job entirely.
“Avoid changing the cat litter if possible. If no one else can do the job, wear disposable gloves and then wash your hands with soap and water,” she said. “It is also helpful to make sure that you change litters daily, as the Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until one to five days after being introduced into a cat’s feces. Raw or undercooked meat is also recommended as a form of cat food avoid. ”
What should pregnant women do if they suspect they have toxoplasmosis?
According to the Mayo Clinic, people expecting this should simply take proper safety precautions to avoid exposure to toxoplasmosis. “If you are pregnant or have decreased immunity, you may need medical management to avoid serious complications,” the website says. “The best approach, however, is prevention.”
Dr. Austin agreed. “As long as you follow the recommendations above, you will greatly limit your risk of spreading toxoplasmosis from a cat to yourself, especially during pregnancy,” she said. “As always, if you have any concerns or think you may have been exposed, contact your doctor.”