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On a recent episode of a TV talk show—which shall go unnamed—a doctor advised a woman who was planning to become pregnant to avoid contact with her three cats because of the risk of toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection that can spread through cats' feces and cause birth defects.
I'm always one for the "better safe than sorry" route, but it's simply not necessary (or fair!) to ignore and avoid—or worse, abandon—your beloved feline friends when there's a baby on the way. For one, indoor cats are extremely unlikely to carry toxoplasmosis, and second, even if they were infected, pretty much the only way that you could catch the parasite would be to actually touch the cats' feces and then touch your mouth or eat before washing your hands. I don't know about you, but I'm not going to be sifting through my darlings' litterboxes with my bare hands anytime soon! That's what scoopers are for, right?
Seriously, though, if you're expecting and your doc tells you that Kitty has to go, you should consider getting rid of your obstetrician—not your cat! Cats can only contract Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) in a couple of ways: by eating raw meat or by hunting infected birds, mice, or other animals. Infected cats only—ahem—shed potentially infective "oocysts" in their feces for about two to three weeks (after which time, they develop immunity to the parasite). And since oocysts in feces don't become infective until one to five days later, cleaning the litterbox daily—which needs to happen anyway, to keep kitties happy—will ensure that there isn't anything icky hanging around.
For a healthy baby and happy kitties, follow these simple tips:
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