cat litter and pregnancy? myth or true?

i have a cat and yesterday i took a pregnancy test and it came back positive, i heard something about cat littler and pregnancy anybody know anything about that?


litter not littler** sorry bout my spelling!!

24 Answers

  • Favorite Answer

    Scary stories abound about cats and babies, some true, others nothing more than old wives' tales. But there are real diseases associated with changing the kitty litter while you're pregnant. Fortunately, with a few precautions, you can minimize the risks and still enjoy your family pet.

    Why are cats a danger?

    Cats can become transmitters of toxoplasmosis, a disease they can get by eating wild rodents or birds infected with a common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite can also be passed along in raw or undercooked meat that cats eat at home. Once eaten, it multiplies in the cat's intestine and is excreted in its feces.

    If you change any cat litter that contains this parasite -- or touch anything else that has touched the infected feces -- and aren't scrupulous about washing your hands, you could accidentally ingest the parasite by touching your hands to your mouth. In its patient education pamphlet, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes that the infection can spread to someone who breathes in the parasite's eggs, although other sources do not indicate that the infection can be spread through the air. The organism can then produce an infection that you can pass along to your unborn baby.

    How harmful is toxoplasmosis?

    The infection rarely causes problems in healthy adults, but it can be dangerous to a developing fetus, possibly resulting in miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe complications such as blindness and mental retardation. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 60 million people in the United States are probably infected with toxoplasmosis -- and most don't even know it. That's because the parasite is no match for a normal, healthy immune system, and most people who have it don't show any signs of illness.

    The few who do get sick -- usually those with compromised immune systems -- will suffer flu-like symptoms such as swollen glands, muscle aches, fever, and fatigue. These symptoms may last for as long as a month. After the parasite has been in your body for six to nine months, you'll develop immunity to it, and the infection is considered inactive. Once that happens, you shouldn't be bothered by it again, and you won'tpass it on to your baby if you become pregnant later on.

    The problem occurs if you become infected while you're pregnant -- or in rare cases, shortly before you become pregnant, when the infection is still active. Within the cycle of pregnancy, the later you become infected, the more likely you are to transfer the infection to your developing baby. However, the younger the fetus, the more severe the effects of the disease are likely to be. According to the CDC, anywhere from 400 to 4,000 babies are born in the U.S. each year with the disease. About 90 percent of them won't show any symptoms at birth but may later develop health problems like chronic eye infections, hearing loss, and learning disabilities.

    About 10 percent of infected babies can have severe problems at birth, and some may only live a few days. A baby with severe toxoplasmosis may have jaundice, pneumonia, or an enlarged liver or spleen. Long-term health complications can include mental retardation, poor eyesight or blindness, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, and other problems.

    How is toxoplasmosis treated?

    Because the infection is so common and goes away by itself, it's rarely treated unless it is diagnosed in a pregnant woman, in someone with a weakened immune system, or in a baby. If you're pregnant -- or trying to get pregnant -- and think you may be infected, talk to your doctor about getting tested. Pregnant women are not routinely tested for the infection, but some doctors would like to see that change. In a study reported in the February 2005 American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers concluded that even when doctors ask the right questions to screen mothers for exposure to the parasite, they still might miss about half of the actual cases of toxoplasmosis. They say that a blood test to detect the infection should be a routine part of prenatal care.

    If blood tests determine that you've been infected in the past, you should now be immune and unlikely to pass anything on to your baby. However, if it turns out that you've never been infected, you should take precautions (see the list below) to avoid coming into contact with the parasite.

    An amniocentesis or ultrasound test may help determine whether the infection has been passed to your baby. If the baby is infected as well, doctors will usually prescribe two medications -- pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine -- that can reduce the severity of the disease in your baby. If the infection hasn't passed to the baby yet, doctors may give you an antibiotic called spiramycin, that can reduce the likelihood of your baby becoming infected.

    If you have toxoplasmosis, it's essential that your baby be tested for the infection at birth, even if she shows no symptoms. If your baby is infected, your doctor may prescribe pyrimethamine and sulfadiazine for as long as a year.

    What can I do about my cat?

    If all this sounds serious, it is. But it doesn't mean you need to put your cat up for adoption when you get pregnant. Keep in mind that even if you've been infected with the parasite in the past, it only remains active for about six to nine months. Cats are only infectious for a limited time, too -- a cat will pass on the parasite for about three weeks after being infected.

    Besides, handling the cat box isn't the only way you can get toxoplasmosis -- you can also get it by eating or handling undercooked meat or digging in a garden or sandbox where an infected cat has left feces. The parasite can also be found in unpasteurized milk, insects and water that have been in contact with infected feces, and unwashed fruits and vegetables that have come from infected soil.

    Although toxoplasmosis can cause serious problems in babies, it can be easily avoided by following some simple precautions:

    •Let someone else change the cat's litter box if you're pregnant or trying to get pregnant. If that's not possible, wear disposable gloves to change it, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards.

    •Change the litter every day -- the parasite doesn't become infectious until at least 24 hours after it lands in the litter box.

    •Never give your cat raw or undercooked meat.

    •Avoid handling stray cats or kittens (kittens are more susceptible to the parasite).

    •Keep your cat inside if possible, so it won't be likely to dine on birds and rodents.

    •Avoid sandboxes -- cats often use them as litter boxes.

    •Wear gloves when you garden, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

    •Wash your hands with soap and water after touching dirt, sand, raw meat, or unwashed vegetables.

    •Wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water after every use.

    •Wash or peel uncooked fruits and vegetables before eating them.

    •Rid your house of cockroaches and flies as much as possible -- they can carry infected soil or feces.

    •Make sure the meat you eat is thoroughly cooked. It should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and juices should run clear, not pink. (Freezing meat for several days before cooking it can also help prevent infection.) This is important because toxoplasmosis can also be transmitted directly to a person from undercooked meat that contains the parasite.

    •Never drink untreated water. Be particularly careful about drinking tap water if you travel to countries that don't have safe water systems.

  • 1 decade ago

    Yes, cleaning a cats litter or being around the dust from it could cause you to contract a disease called Toxoplasmosis. In pregnancy, it can be deadly to the fetus. Ordinarily, the mother is not harmed. Chances are that if you have been around cats a long time and cleaned t heir litter you may have already had Toxoplasmosis. The symptoms are similar to the flu with diahhrea and stomach aches and such. It is only a danger to the fetus if you get it while pregnant, not if you've had it before. Your doctor should do a blood test to see if you have had it before or not. They will advise you what to do from there.

  • Episco
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    It is true, but it's not the actual litter to worry about, but the cat feces. Cat excrement may contain toxoplasmosis, which is harmful to the human fetus.

    You can get a quick and easy blood test from the vet for your cat to see if it has it. If not, there's nothing to worry about.

    Many vets don't worry about toxoplasmosis in a cat if it is a strictly indoor cat. Toxoplasmosis is not transfered from a cat to her kittens when they are born, and the way the cat gets it is through killing rats and birds that are already infected. So if you have an indoor only cat, the liklihood of it having toxoplasmosis is quite slim, and probably nothing to worry about anyway.

    Be sure though to be careful if you garden outside, because outdoor cats often use gardens as their litterboxes, so the toxoplasmosis could be in the soil. Just make sure you wear gloves.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You shouldn't change the litter, because you could get toxoplasmosis. If it's a strictly indoor cat, that's had no contact with wild rodents, your risk is next to nothing, but your doc will probably tell you it'd be better if someone else changed the litter while you're pregnant. If it's just you in the house, you have no choice, though, so I'd wear rubber gloves and a mask that covers your nose and mouth to be extra safe.

    Source(s): I have a cat and 1 1/2 healthy pregnancies. Also, worked in a vet's office during pregnancy #1.
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  • 1 decade ago

    The danger is toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection carried by cats, transmitted in cat feces, and found in gardens where cats poop. If you get toxoplasmosis for the first time when you're pregnant, the baby can get it, too, in utero, and that can cause significant neurological damage. So if you know you've never had toxoplasmosis and have cats, you shouldn't change the litter box and you'll want to be careful about gardening. (Use gloves and a mask if you have to do these things.) If you're not sure whether you've had toxoplasmosis, you can get your blood tested to see whether you've been exposed. If you have been, you don't need to worry about it.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You do not just need to wear gloves (although this is a good idea to) as you can also inhale these toxins which are very very bad for developing babies (wear a little breathing mask when changing) ... The problem also lies in the fact that the cat can track the litter all over the house and this can also be inhaled or get on hands.. I am pretty sure that you can have the cat test for quite cheap and then you can lay your worries to rest!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It is totally true. There is an ingredient in the litter that can actually harm the developing fetus so it is best to have another family member take over this chore for you. When I was pregant, I enjoyed reading Parents magazine. They have all this kind of info and tips. You might want to check out their website to research this question also; I know that is where I originally saw an article about it ( Good luck!!!

  • 1 decade ago

    Yea your not suppost to change cat litter when you are pregnant, it carries some type of Parasite, i know it starts with a T but i cannot remember exactly what it is called. It causes Flu like symptoms but can be harmful to pregnant women. Google it, you will find all types of information on it :) Goodluck and happy pregnancy!!!!

    Mom of 4 boys and 23 weeks with number 5!

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Yes, you are not supposed to change or be around cat litter when you are pregnant. There is something in it that can cause birth defects.

    Worked as a vet. assistant first part of pregnancy #1

    Source(s): mommy of 17 month old daughter and pregnant with baby #2!!
  • HP
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    Yes, there is a disease called toxoplasmosis (google it, although you might want to check my spelling) you can get from handling cat litter (or soil etc...) so be really careful about washing your hands after cleaning the cat out, after gardening or even washing vegetables.

  • 1 decade ago

    First, congratulations on your pregnancy.

    There is truth to this.

    There is a spore, or a bacteria which can reside in the litter and it is better if you do not clean the cat box during your pregnancy.

    I am not real sure the particulars and it would be best to visit with the OBGYN but my understanding is the main concern is with cleaning the litter.

    The cat itself is not a huge problem.

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