Can having cats affect your pregnancy? It is true cats can present some challenges when you are expecting. We’ve put together a list of the most common concerns while expecting and being a cat parent. There are many heartbreaking reasons people need to surrender their animals; but becoming pregnant should not be one of them. Read to find out how to overcome the challenges to keep you, your kitty, and your baby happy and healthy.

Are Cats Dangerous to Pregnant Women?

Your cat is a part of the family, but now you question whether it’s safe to keep him or her while you’re pregnant. Good news, you can relax. Your kitty can stay right where they belong. Cats and pregnancy can mix and have been doing so for centuries.

However, there are some precautions you will want to take while you are pregnant. The most common concern people have during pregnancy is the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis from your cat. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that cats can carry and pass along when they eliminate in the litter box or garden.

Of course, in any of the baby books you may read, the section about pets in your home and the advice you get as a cat parent is startling. Growing up around cats all my life, I just never associated them with being these so-called “villains” they are so often portrayed in the media. I agree these baby books are supposed to inform and prepare you, but it was so disheartening at how much these ‘experts’ scare you into thinking the only option is to basically get rid of your loveable companion.

Cat’s Get a Bad Rap

If you were already a little weary as a cat parent to begin with (questioning whether the baby and cat will get along or if it’s even safe to keep the cat) then it was very easy to find an excuse to surrender your cat. I was surprised how many times I got the question, “So what are you going to do with your cats now that you’re pregnant?” Literally never crossed my mind that getting rid of them was even an option!

Not to mention, if you were a person reading these baby books who already had an aversion to cats, now you literally detest them! Not kidding, we had a friend who was expecting. We invited the couple over for dinner one night and once they found out we had cats; they refused to come over because of all their perception of cats. We tried to explain that’s not how it works but they wouldn’t budge. Needless to say, we lost touch with them over the years but that always stuck with me. So, lets dive into some misconceptions about how cats can affect pregnancy.

How Cats Can Affect Pregnancy

To start with, No! DO NOT get rid of your cat because you are pregnant. You can safely be pregnant with cats in the home! One of the first questions your doctor may ask you is if you have any pets in the home. Once you say the C word (cats), the conversation quickly spirals into “well you know the risks of Toxoplasmosis and pregnancy right?” One of the most common fears associated with being pregnant with cats is contracting Toxoplasmosis. So, what is it and how do we avoid it?

What Is Toxoplasmosis?

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Toxoplasmosis is an infection caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. This parasite has been found throughout the world and was first discovered back in 1908. Toxoplasmosis is considered to be the leading cause of death attributed to foodborne illness in the United States.

More than 40 million men, women, and children in the U.S. actually carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few show symptoms. Their immune systems usually keep the parasite from causing illness. So, the scary part; women who are newly infected with Toxoplasmosis during or before pregnancy can have severe consequences. This may result in birth defects or loss of the pregnancy altogether. I told you it was the scary part.

Should I Be Concerned About Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a real concern and should be taken seriously, especially if you are pregnant. However, the chances of actually contracting toxoplasmosis from your cat is quite rare, especially if your cat is an indoor cat.

Unless your cat hunts or eats raw meat regularly, it is extremely unlikely for an indoor cat to carry Toxoplasmosis. In fact, you are way more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from eating unwashed fruits and vegetables or undercooked meats.

The chances of actually contracting toxoplasmosis from your cat is quite rare, especially if your cat is an indoor cat. Click To Tweet

Toxoplasmosis and Litter Boxes

While it’s not completely impossible to be exposed to toxoplasmosis through your cat’s litter box, most people are infected through other means. Cats that are infected with toxoplasmosis will shed oocysts (the infective stage in the life cycle of the Toxoplasma organisms that causes toxoplasmosis) for only a short time.

The prevalence of oocyst shedding in cats is very low (0-1%). This means very few cats at any one time are actually able to pass their infection to people. Even if your cat is shedding the organism, it takes a minimum of 48 hours for the oocysts to actually become infective. Simply by cleaning the litter box daily can prevent the transmission of Toxoplasmosis.

Should I Test My Cat for Toxoplasmosis?

Veterinarians can easily check for toxoplasma gondii parasites by taking a blood sample. If the antibodies are found, it indicates that the cat has been affected by the parasites at some point in his or her life and now carries immunities. So even if it’s detected, its most likely no longer shedding casings and no longer infectious. However, just for peace of mind this may be a good choice for you.

Unless your cat hunts or eats raw meat regularly, it is extremely unlikely for an indoor cat to carry Toxoplasmosis. In fact, you are way more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from eating unwashed fruits and vegetables or undercooked… Click To Tweet

How to Prevent Toxoplasmosis

Since the parasite is generally spread from cats to people through cat feces, avoiding the cat litter box is also a good way to prevent the disease. This would be a great time for your partner to take over litter box duty for a while. If that is not possible, there are some other options to consider.

Remember, Toxoplasma parasites do not become infectious until at least 24 hours after they are shed in the cat’s feces. Simply by scooping the litter box after each use, or at least once a day, can decrease the chances of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite from becoming transmittable.

Lessen Direct Contact with the Litter Box

Self-cleaning litter boxes are a good investment especially while you’re pregnant with cats. They simply lessen the amount of direct contact you have with the litter box which is a good thing while you’re pregnant. Once you and your cat get used to a self-cleaning litter box, you may never want to go back. They have come a long way and you can find one in almost any price point. Check out more litter box options here.

Litter Can Make All the Difference

If a self-cleaning litter box is not for you, then be selective about the cat litter you choose. Pick a cat litter that can easily clump and is less likely to get stuck to your cat’s paws. That way it will lessen the amount of litter leaving the box and being tracked around the house. You’ll also want an odor control cat litter that discourages dust. Options like BoxiePro Deep Clean scent-free or Boxiecat extra strength scent-free premium clumping clay cat litter are both ideal for this purpose. For an eco-friendlier option, we recommend Sustainably Yours corn and cassava clumping litter.

When you do scoop, you can aways use disposable gloves for extra measure. Washing your hands afterward is also a no brainer. Wearing a mask can help during litter changes to eliminate inhaling particles. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable.

 

cat with pregnant woman

Cat Litter Disposal Systems and Accessories

Anything that can effectively and quickly contain the litter box mess is advisable, especially when you are pregnant with cats. Litter disposal systems are a good way to contain both the odor and potential pathogens in cat feces. The Litter Genie Plus is a great option as it locks away the litter box contents inside the pail.

If you have other pets or young children in your home, you might want to choose a cat litter box enclosure system as well. There are even some litter disposal systems with childproof locks on the lid if you’re unable to keep it out of reach.

Another option that could be useful is Scoop Buddy. These are universal litter box anchors that attach to nearly any litter box. Scoop Buddy holds your waste bag securely in place against the litter box so there’s no chance for litter to spill all over the floor. It makes for quick and easy clean up, just what we like!

Keep Calm and Keep Your Cat

I hope this helps you understand that women can safely be pregnant with cats in the same household. Pregnant women and cat litter may not go hand-in-hand, but if you take precautions, there’s no need to rehome your pet.

Above all, don’t panic and get rid of your cat. Some simple changes are all that is needed to protect yourself and your family from toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis can take many routes to cause infection. Getting rid of your cat will not significantly lower your chances of getting this disease. Besides there are so many wonderful reasons why growing up with cats add such a benefit to your child’s life, but that’s for another blog.

Toxoplasmosis can take many routes to cause infection. Getting rid of your cat will not significantly lower your chances of getting this disease Click To Tweet

Other Ways to Reduce Toxoplasmosis Infection

As mentioned earlier, most people are infected with Toxoplasmosis through other means, NOT their cat. Here are some other precautionary ways to reduce your risk of contracting toxoplasmosis from the environment.

  • Avoid drinking untreated water
  • Wear gloves when gardening and during any contact with soil or sand because it might be contaminated with cat feces that contain Toxoplasma. Wash hands with soap and water after gardening or contact with soil or sand
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection
  • Keep outdoor sandboxes covered
  • Have someone else clean the litter box
  • Feed cats only canned or dried commercial food or well-cooked table food, not raw or undercooked meats
  • Ensure that the cat litter box is changed daily. The Toxoplasma parasite does not become infectious until 1 to 5 days after it is shed in a cat’s feces
  • Keep cats indoors to prevent them from hunting and reduce the chances they will become infected with Toxoplasma
  • Do not adopt or handle stray cats, especially kittens. Do not get a new cat while you are pregnant or immunocompromised

 

Hope this helped to dispel some common assumptions about being pregnant with cats. For more tips on how to adjust your cat to the new baby, check out 12 SMARTY Tips to Prepare Your Cat for A New Baby

 

Have You Announced Your Pregnancy Yet?

If not, here are a few creative ideas for a pregnancy announcement:

7 Hilarious Pregnancy Announcements That Include Your Cat

21 Cute ideas to Announce Your Pregnancy

30 Fun Ways to Tell Your Parents That You’re Pregnant