Is it safe for a pregnant woman to have a cat? There are many old wives’ tales about what pregnant women should and shouldn’t do during pregnancy. These stories and myths can be confusing when you’re trying to be smart during your pregnancy.
One thing you may have heard is that owning cats can be dangerous for pregnant women. If you are pregnant (or considering getting pregnant) and own a cat, Westarbor Animal Hospital is here to help you learn the truth.
Cats Are (Mostly) Safe
In general, it is perfectly safe for a pregnant woman to own a cat (or multiple cats). She should always use typical precautions–as she should with any kind of animal. This includes:
- Being very careful not to trip over the animal or any of its toys
- Making sure the animal is fully vaccinated before the baby comes
- Preparing the animal for a new person in the house (getting it comfortable other people or animals can help with this)
Toxoplasmosis Risks for Pregnant Women
The reason some people think it is not safe for pregnant women to own cats is because of a parasite-based infection called toxoplasmosis. This infection can be passed through feces, and any cat that spends time outside or eats raw meat is susceptible to contracting it.
Pregnant women who contract toxoplasmosis could potentially pass it on to their unborn child. While many children do not show signs of infection right away, it could eventually bring about issues like blindness, mental disability, eye damage, or brain damage. In extreme cases, it could cause miscarriage.
While cats can transmit toxoplasmosis to their humans, it does not mean that you cannot safely own a cat during your pregnancy. There are a few simple ways to keep yourself safe from the infection, which include:
- Keep your cat inside during your pregnancy (indoor cats have a much lower risk of getting infected)
- Have someone else empty the litter box
- If you live alone, wear gloves and a mask while emptying the litter box and wash your hands with soap and water right after
- Clean the litter box daily (it can take up to 5 days for the infection to become transmissible from a cat’s feces)
- Only feed your cat dry or canned food and avoid raw meats, which could transmit the infection
- Don’t come into contact with stray cats
- Don’t bring a new cat home during your pregnancy
- Use gloves for gardening in case another cat has used your dirt as a litter box
- Make sure to cook all your meat to a safe temperature
Loving Cat Ownership
Is it safe for a pregnant woman to have a cat? As long as you use caution while pregnant, it is definitely safe to maintain the same relationship that you had with your cat before your pregnancy. Don’t be afraid to hold your cat or enjoy some daily snuggles. Toxoplasmosis can only be transmitted orally, so as long as you use caution while handling feces and avoid touching your face until after you’ve thoroughly washed your hands, you should not have to worry about the infection. You can talk to your veterinarian for more tips about safe cat ownership while pregnant.
Whether you are looking for tips on owning pets while pregnant or are in need of an annual wellness visit for your furry friend, Westarbor Animal Hospital is here for you. We provide comprehensive veterinary services to ensure that your pets start off on the right paw for a healthy life. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call (734) 769-5391.