Cat Litter During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, there are lots of things to look after for as a pregnant woman, not just the things you eat and drink, but also the things you do. One of these things might include cleaning up your cat’s litter. Be aware that when you are pregnant, you should keep yourself sanitized from possible bacteria around your home to take good care of yourself and most especially your baby.

If you love cats and tend to be pregnant at the same time, let someone else do the cat chore at home, because cats are potential transmitters of the infection called Toxoplasmosisthat’s mostly found in birds, animals and us, people. For a normal person, it might not be a serious health problem, but for someone who is pregnant, it might cause vision loss and brain damage to the unborn baby. The chances of passing this illness to the baby are low, but it is still possible. Take special precautions and step away from anything such as cat litter during pregnancy that can be infected with feces.

Why Should I Avoid Changing Cat Litter During Pregnancy?

Toxoplasma gondii is a common parasite that can possibly exists in raw and undercooked meat that you have, and mostly in your cat litter. Your cat eats the infected meat; the parasite multiplies in its intestine, and without a thought, carries the infection which can spread through its feces that makes them a possible transmitter. Changing cat litter that has this parasite and unknowingly don’t wash your hands, you can accidentally touch your hands to your mouth and worse, ingest the parasite. This can produce an infection that might be passed to the growing baby.

Studies on how this infection happens are still yet to be answered. Some studies say that by breathing in the parasite’s eggs, you are infected while some sources show indications that the infection can’t be spread in the air. This infection mostly affects people with a weak immune system, and researchers in 2012 found that there might be a link between the infection and some mental health issues, but this has not been proven yet. This is why staying away from cat litter during pregnancy is very important. For a growing and developing fetus, toxoplasmosis is dangerous because it can lead to stillbirth, miscarriage, and complications to the baby like vision loss and mental retardation.

This probably infects a lot of people, but most of them don’t even have any idea about it, because the parasite doesn’t easily affect a normal and healthy person and doesn’t show any signs of illness. But to the few who have a weak immune system, they get sick and sufferon flu-like symptoms like muscle aches, swollen glands, fatigue and fever which may last longer than a week. When the parasite has been in your body for almost nine months, people will develop immunity to it and won’t be bothered by the infection again because it is already considered inactive. And if you’re immune and pregnant later on, you won’t pass it to the baby.

But if within the cycle of your pregnancy, you’re infected and the infection is still alive, then the problem could occur because the developing baby is more likely to inherit the infection if you get infected in later pregnancy. Also, the younger the fetus is, the more effective the disease is likely to be. Most infected babies might not show symptoms when born, but symptoms become visible as they grow. 10 percent of these infected babies can have severe problems during birth which may make them only live for a few days. A baby infected severely by Toxoplasmosis is at risk of the following:

  • Eye infection
  • Pneumonia
  • Jaundice
  • Enlarged liver or spleen

And long-term health complications include:

  • Poor vision or blindness
  • Mental retardation
  • Epilepsy
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Other problems

More Notes on Avoiding Toxoplasmosis During Pregnancy

Precautions of avoiding Toxoplasmosis, especially when you’re pregnant, can be applied by doing the following:

  • Let another person do the changing of cat litter at home. AVOID the tendency to do so.
  • Remind the person in-charge of the cat chore to change the litter EVERY DAY. The parasite begins to be infectious in the next 24 hours after it lands on the litter.
  • Sandboxes are often littered by cats-keep them away.
  • Wash your hands often, most especially when you touch sand, unwashed vegetables, and raw meat.
  • When you enjoy gardening most of the time, make sure you are using gloves when you touch dirt. Wash and soap your hands afterwards.
  • Make sure your cutting boards are sanitized enough after each use.
  • Wash uncooked fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
  • Make sure to GET RID of the carriers of infected soil and feces such as flies and cockroaches.
  • Eat a thoroughly cooked meat. Meat juices must run clear, NOT pink.
  • Freezing meat several days before cooking-it can help in preventing the infection.
  • Drink CLEAN water.
  • Disinfect your kitchen.

How Can I Take Care of My Cat During Pregnancy?

When you’re pregnant, you can still give your cat some attention, but be sure to do it in a precautionary way like the following:

  • Avoid changing the cat litter as much as possible. Again, let another person do it. This way, you are less likely to be infected. If you don’t have someone to do it, make sure to use mask and gloves. Throw away used gloves and wash your hands thoroughly when done.
  • Do not feed your cat with raw and undercooked meat. Feed them with dry or canned cat food instead.
  • Keep your cat indoors as much as possible.
  • Stay away from stray cats. They are much more susceptible to the parasite.
  • Sanitize promptly. Wash your hands with soap after playing with your cat.