If you are a cat lover, you probably have heard warnings about babies and cats under the same roof: You need to get rid of the cat (false!), you can’t change the litter (kinda true), your jealous cat will suffocate your baby in the crib (false!).
Pregnancy and Cat Litter
Cats can carry a parasite in their stools called Toxoplasma gondii, which can lead to an extremely rare infection called toxoplasmosis. In non-pregnant women, this disease is nothing to be concerned about. However, it can be passed through the blood supply and infect your developing baby, causing birth defects or pregnancy loss.
The good news is that you’ve probably been exposed to toxoplasmosis at some point in your life. According to the CDC, as many as “60 million people in the United States may be infected with the Toxoplasma parasite. Of those who are infected, very few have symptoms because a healthy person’s immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.” Once you’ve been exposed to the parasite, you build a natural immunity to the disease and likely don’t have to worry about passing the disease on. Your doctor can order a blood test to detect whether you’ve been exposed to the illness, if you are concerned.
Ideally, you should have someone else take care of emptying the litter box while pregnant. If this isn’t possible, use gloves and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water each time you change the litter.
Indoor cats are significantly less likely to carry Toxoplasmosa, so if possible, keep your cat indoors to reduce the risk that she’ll be exposed. Of course, stay away from stray cats.