Cats and pregnancy

Cats Protection receives hundreds of calls from pregnant women every year concerned about catching toxoplasmosis from their cat.

We recently conducted some research which showed that almost seven out of ten women were worried they could catch something from their pet while pregnant and 60% were concerned that their cat could pass an illness on to their new baby.
The survey also revealed that over 35% of pregnant women were being given the wrong advice about cats and pregnancy and over a quarter of women who received advice from a family member were told to get rid of their cat. Even more worrying, over 16% of respondents were advised to give up their cats by a non-qualified resource, such as a blog or forum.

In fact, studies show that cat owners are statistically no more likely to get toxoplasmosis than non-cat owners. The chance of contracting the disease from your cat is very remote indeed – in fact you are more likely to get it from handling raw meat. Obviously all cat owners should practise good hygiene routines, especially hand washing after dealing with a litter tray and before handling food, but that’s just common sense.

In light of the findings, we are keen to reassure all parents-to-be that, by following a few simple steps, it is safe to keep your cat while welcoming new additions to your family.

Our advice is:
  • Get someone else to change your cat’s litter tray if you can, and if you can't, wear gloves and wash your hands carefully after changing the box
  • Change cat litter daily as T. gondii is infectious between one and five days after the cat defecates
  • Do not feed your cat raw meat
  • Wash your hands after contact with stray cats and kittens
  • Keep outdoor sandboxes covered
  • Wear gloves when gardening in case a cat has toileted there

To support its recommendations, Cats Protection has produced a leaflet on toxoplasmosis which can be downloaded from
www.cats.org.uk/toxo

Anyone worried about owning a cat during pregnancy can call the charity’s national Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 for advice.