Sadly many people would get rid of their cats because of a pregnancy. It is true that toxoplasmosis, a parasite, can cause miscarriage or birth defects, but chances of a pregnant woman getting infected through a cat are not very common. In fact in most cases, pregnant women are exposed to the parasite by handling raw or uncooked meat or vegetables that have been on the same cutting board as raw meat. Another common culprit of toxoplasmosis is gardening, touching soil that contains toxoplasmosis parasite with bare hands.
If your cats are indoor cats all their life, most likely they do not harbor the parasite since toxoplasmosis usually comes from an infected prey or contaminated soil. Many infected cats do not show any symptoms of toxoplasmosis, so it is cautious to wear a pair of gloves while cleaning the litter box or better, get another person to maintain litter box hygiene for you. Since toxoplasmosis takes about 24 hours to become infective, it is wise to remove litter daily. Also, it is important to have good hygiene such as washing your hands thoroughly before you eat.
More than 60 million of people in the U.S. are carriers of toxoplasmosis and are immune to the parasite. With the antibodies, the parasite will not be passed onto their unborn child. Out of the 60 million infected, majority contracted the parasite through raw meat and gardening.
The rule of the thumb is that in order to prevent toxoplasmosis from affecting your unborn child, the most effective way is to wash your hands before eating, refrain yourself from any raw or uncooked meat, clean your hands after gardening and/or wear a pair of gloves, and finally have someone take care of the litter box for you.
You definitely do NOT need to get rid of your cats if you are pregnant. Cats and babies can get along very well if they are introduced properly after birth.
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