I just found out I'm expecting in February and am curious to know the situation regarding toxoplasmosis and cats. I've got two cats. DH is now scooping the litter box, but he's in the military and isn't always around to do it. So I guess my question has three parts: is it dangerous for someone who is pregnant to clean a cat box as long as she wears gloves/washes hands?...should I wash my hands after touching the cats?...and does the fact that they have never been outdoor cats make a difference? (maybe they don't even carry this toxoplasmosis).
Any advice is appreciated.
We have 2 cats. My husband has always had litter box duty, so I haven't really investigated the details for myself, but here's what I recall from my books...
It is okay for you to change the litter box as long you wash your hands every time immediately after. It's the litter box/feces that is the problem.
You don't have to wash your hands every time you touch the cats. If you see them rolling in the litter box or something, I would; otherwise, you are fine. If you follow normal hygeine/hand washing throughout the day, that's plenty.
If you have outdoor cats, you should be concerned about getting other things that could possible spread to you (like worms).
We are going to let our cats be fully involved with the baby the second she comes home from the hospital. Don't let too many people freak you out about pets and babies, as there are a ton of wives tales out there. Some people have even told me we need to arrange to get rid of our pets completely before the baby comes. I don't even remember the reasons...but I do recall they were ridiculous reasons. Just do your research and you'll be fine.
Hiya , & Congratulations
First I do have to say do you want to keep the cats ? Are they child friendly , and are they completely vaccinated ? If you answerd yes to all of these than I got the soultiuon for ya .Wal-mart sells an automatic little box scooper it works wonders ,(it cost about 80.00 ) Once a day you take the out the used littler its alreadt in a little garbage bag and toss it away no hand to hand dirty mess and it cleans right after the cat has finished ,just remember to always wash your hands and under the nails ,and dont forget to tell your o.b that way he knows all the circumstances with your pregnancy .
DH and I have a cat and have never had any worries about her at all. He's always been on litter box duty so I don't have to deal with that. I read in a book that if you've been around cats for most of your life (I've always had cats and so has DH) chances are you've already been exsposed to toxoplasmosis and you are immune to it. A lot of people will tell you horror stories about keeping a cat while pregnant but like Gayle said most of it's a bunch of old wives' tales. My SIL tried to tell us we needed to get rid of our cat ASAP. This cat is about 10 years old and a lovely little thing who's a part of the family. Some people just overreact.
I too have cats and i have had them my whole like. So like Tigger said, you will get immune to Toxoplasmosis. My doctor has told me that. Also, once i informed them that i did have cats, she did the test anyway but since your cats do not go outside, the chances that they have it are very slim.
I am due in Feb too! Congrats! My doc said it's better to have someone else do it, BUT if you have to do it, use latex gloves and wash your hands very well afterwards. My husband travels a lot with his job, so I am in a position where I have to do it sometimes. They said it's actually worse to let the litter sit in there unscooped for a few days. Also, if you have had cats for most of your life, you are probably immune to it. They are actually testing me for it as we speak - got blood drawn last week.
Toxoplasmosis is very rare especially for inside cats. My doctor said in the 20 something years he has been practicing he has only seen one case of it. My doctor told me that if I MUST clean the litter box, to wear a mask. He said it is transmitted by inhalation. At your first prenatal appt they should test you for it if you tell them you have cats. If you do not test positive, chances are your cats do not have it anyway, but to be safe wear the mask.
I have had cats my whole life, someone did tell me I might be immune. I'm not going to worry too much--use gloves if I have to do it.
I couldn't imagine getting rid of these guys. They're family. And they actually love kids (and everyone else), so I'm not worried at all. I've got my mom on standby to take them if something doesn't work out though...
You guys are lucky to have cats that you do not worry about. My DH's 15yr old cat loves to sleep in bed w/ us which always freaked me out to wake up w/ him on top of my head or partially on my neck, and I'm not kidding. So now we lock our bedroom. But of course I worry about what will happen when the baby comes as he/she will not be sleeping in our bedroom and I don't always want to lock her/him in her room and rely on the baby monitor. The cat always goes to the baby's room now if I don't keep the door closed. What if I fall asleep on the couch? When the cat jumps on my head I wake up, but I worry that the baby may not be so lucky. We live in a condo right now, so there is no way to separate the cat, hopefully we'll find a house soon. Any other ideas?? thanks
Well, my cats have never slept near my head but I still don't want them climbing in the crib or anything. I'm afraid they will accidentally scratch the baby, etc. My cats too are fascinated with the room where the baby will be. I don't know why! I'm going to have the baby sleep in our room in a bassinet for the first few weeks and keep a watch on him. From there I will see how it goes and if it looks like there is going to be a problem. If so, I have seen ads in parenting magazines where you can buy a mesh dome to put over the crib to keep pets away. I might look into that. Good luck.
A friend of mine bought a mesh barrier that goes over the crib to keep the cat from jumping in. She said it works really well and she didn't have to ban the cat from certain parts of the house. I'm sure you can get them at Wal-Mart or a similiar place.
I'd never heard of the mesh cat dome before. That's a good idea. I was thinking I'd have to lock kitty out of the room. I'm not worried about scratching, mine's an indoor cat so he's been de-clawed. He doesn't usually sleep around peoples heads either. Prefers to take up most of your leg room actually. Mostly I'm worried about cat hair all over the babies things. He's a long hair and leaves a mess when he sleeps on things. Poor baby'd have a mouth full of cat hair all the time.
I'm going to try to keep my cat, I just hope the baby doesn't have allergies like I do. I'm more worried about that then toxoplasmosis. I definitely don't want to give up the cat, he's family but if the baby has bad allergies I won't be able to keep him.
the cat net is a good idea I will get that. My problem is also the spraying and pooping. The cat is an indoor cat so he passess hair balls all the time, which is totally gross. He also sprays everything new that comes into the house. Last thing was our new TV 2wks ago. He also likes to poop everywhere other than his litter box, eventhough we change it everyday. Using cat repellent in places where he goes has helped, but if we have good 2-3wks and relax and stop using it, it starts all over again. I hate the hair on furniture too, and w/ the poop, urine and vomit, find the cat totally discusting. I had cats all my life as a child and loved them, but they were always outdoor cats, so I never had any of the above problems. My DH loves the cat more than life itself, I think if he had to choose the cat or me, he would for sure pick the cat. I feel bad for even hoping that the cat will die soon, b/c it's such a source of tension, thanks for letting me vent.
Thanks for all your replies.
I finally got to talk to the nurse at the clinic about this and she said to continue to take precautions, but not to worry. She said that since my cats have been indoors their whole lives, the likelihood that they carry toxoplasmosis is small.
And (in case anyone was interested in knowing) she cautioned me that cats are only one source of the infection. Raw meat, unwashed veggies and gardening are also ways you can get it.
So, I'm not going to be neurotic about this, but maybe wash my hands a little more.
If anyone has their nursery set up yet and has found their cat jumping into the crib here is a trick that sometimes works:
Get cardboard and attach it to the top edges of the crib. Attach double sided tape to the cardboard. Make sure that the cardboard is on there in a way so that the cats have to step on it in order to get into the crib. They hate the sticky feeling on their paws and won't try to get up there because of it. I know they sell cardboard at craft stores with a sticky side and this would work too.....
I researched this following a friends daughter contracting this during her pregnancy - and she had no cat. In the research (and I'm no doctor) it said that 60 million people in the U.S. have been exposed at some point in their life & are immune - it also said that the cat only stays infectious for 10-14 days following their exposure. Cats contract it from other cats, or from rodents, undercooked table scraps etc. Any bird or mammal can carry the illness. And it is true that due to animals using your garden (& sand box) as a litter box, it can be contracted that way. Like most illness, it has to enter your system, so washing hands & avoiding touching your face reduces the risk. Also- if your cat is infected, the feces needs one or more days BEFORE becoming infectious, so keeping a tidy box really cuts down the risk. Your doctor can test to tell you if you've had a previous exposure (a positive IgG would mean your immune). BUT - with that all said - I'd still let someone else clean the litter box if possible - no sense taking any unnecessary risk, but I wouldn't be freaked out to do it either. Just use good precautions, gloves, hand washing, and changing promptly.... Best wishes, Beck