Do I Need To Give Away My Cat?
NO, you don’t.
I’ve heard so many people throw this false piece of information around that it’s pretty ridiculous. I think the people who say this statement are just terrified of the “what if’s” and go completely overboard and get rid of their cats(s). But if you’re armed with a little bit of research and implement some safety precautions there’s no reason why you, your unborn baby and your cat can’t have a happy 9 months!
What is Toxoplasmosis Gondii?
T.Gondii is a parasite that can infect all warm blooded mammals like birds, rodents, cats and humans. Cats are what experts call the “definitive host” because it’s the only mammal in which the parasite can complete it’s life cycle and infect another mammal. When a cat is infected, and they’re typically infected through contact with another cat and their feces or by eating any rodents (mice, rats, etc), they can excrete potentially infectious oocysts (eggs). The downside to this is that your cat is pretty much an incubator to this parasite but the on the upside once your cat is infected it’s very rare for them to be reinfected and shed the parasite again.
How Can I get It?
You can contract this parasite if you:
– Come in contact with cat feces
– Consume undercooked or raw meat
– Ingest water, soil or vegetables that have been contaminated
or through transplacental transmission (from mother to fetus)
How Can I Stay Safe?
You can stay safe by following these precautions that will ensure limited exposure to this parasite:
- Avoid cleaning the litter box – this is also a great way for pet mom’s to get a break from slaving over the litter box! But if you absolutely have to clean it out do wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after you’re done
- Clean out the litter box daily – this parasite doesn’t become infectious until about 1-5 days after it’s shed in cat feces
- Avoid eating undercooked or raw meat
- Wear gloves when gardening – soil as well as produce may also be contaminated with this parasite so be sure to wash your hands after handling
- Keep cats indoors – this helps in preventing them from eating rodents (which are carriers of this parasite) as well as prevent them from being exposed to other cats and their feces
*Note: There is a way to determine if you’re currently infected or have been infected by this parasite in the past, especially if you’re planning a pregnancy. You can ask your health care provider to run a blood test specifically for this parasite as this isn’t something that is routinely checked for. There are also tests that can be done to your baby to check if they are infected those include: checking the fluid around the fetus or the fetal blood, checking through an ultrasound, as well as testing the babies blood after birth. If you do find out that your baby is infected there is treatment and that typically includes antibiotics as well as medication for the first year of the babies life.