Cat Litter Boxes & Pregnancy
by Jude Messineo
Cats can carry and transmit toxoplasmosis.
Toxoplasmosis is a condition caused by the parasite toxoplasma gondii. Though typically not a threat to a healthy person, the disease, if contracted during pregnancy, can harm the growing fetus. The parasite can be transmitted through cat feces.
How It's Contracted
Cats who go outside contract the parasites from eating infected birds or mice, or from coming in contact with infected soil. Indoor cats can be infected if fed raw, contaminated meat.
The parasite reproduces in the intestines of the host feline. Cats are the only animal to transmit the parasite through their feces. According to the Mayo Clinic, there may be a million infectious cells in a single cat stool.
The parasite can be transmitted while cleaning the littler box, or by touching anything that has come in contact with the contaminated feces, and then touching your mouth with your infected hands.
Pregnant women are encouraged to have another family member clean the litter box for the duration of the pregnancy. If that's not possible, wear gloves and be scrupulous about hand-washing afterwards.
Cats will also use gardens and children's sandboxes as litter boxes. Pregnant women should wear gloves when gardening and wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water when finished.