Although it is less and less frequent, we are sure that you have already heard that cat and pregnancy are incompatible and that you must get rid of your cat to be safe. However, nothing is more wrong. Know that you can perfectly live with your cat if you are pregnant. However, yes, you must take into account a series of hygienic and sanitary aspects to apply in order to avoid being infected with toxoplasmosis, since it is the main danger that cats represent for pregnant women.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can endanger the viability of the fetus during pregnancy and can also cause damage and alterations in the baby when it is born. Cats are the definitive host, which is why they are what is called a route of transmission. Not only are cats a source of infection for the parasite, but the parasite can also be transported via contaminated soil, food and water. However, we insist that if you follow a few simple sanitary measures, you have nothing to worry about.
Can I touch my cat if I’m pregnant?
What happens if I touch my cat and I’m pregnant? Can I catch toxoplasmosis? As we have said, pregnant women are warned against contact with cats because of the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease that is very dangerous for the fetus. However, if you live with a perfectly healthy cat, you can continue to cuddle it without any problem. In fact, it’s almost recommended because cats have many benefits for pregnant women.
A cat is a vector of peace and tranquility, it allows you to de-stress and to be happier. Living with a cat can therefore help you overcome the fears and worries that can accompany pregnancy. Therefore, you can completely continue petting your cat. In addition, during the first trimester, your gynecologist will ask you to do a blood and urine test which, among other things, will check if you have antibodies against Toxoplasma gondii, the protozoan parasite responsible for toxoplasmosis, which your cat can pass it on to you if they test positive for the infection and you don’t follow proper hygiene measures, such as cleaning your cat’s litter box without washing your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Cats, pregnant women and toxoplasmosis
In cats, toxoplasmosis is usually asymptomatic. Otherwise, depending on where the parasite has lodged, you will see a wide range of symptoms that can be ocular, nervous, digestive, muscular, respiratory, cardiac or cutaneous. In humans, it is usually an asymptomatic infection, which in some cases can cause flu-like symptoms such as general fatigue, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and muscle discomfort. This infection is, of course, much more serious in immunocompromised people as well as in pregnant women.
Pregnant women will not suffer serious consequences if they contract the infection, but if the parasite reaches the placenta, it can cause damage to the fetus which can lead to miscarriage, low birth weight, vision problems, nervous system impairment, anemia, hearing impairment, and damage to organs such as the liver, spleen, lymphatic system, or lungs. That is why doctors always warn about this disease. But… is touching a cat during pregnancy really a means of contagion?
Transmission of toxoplasmosis in humans
Touching and petting your cat is not a source of toxoplasmosis infection, but the following situations are:
Being in contact with faeces from cats infected with toxoplasmosis without washing your hands afterwards.
Gardening or touching soil contaminated with positive cat feces without washing your hands afterwards or without putting on a pair of gloves.
- Eating raw or undercooked meat.
- Handling raw meat and putting hands in mouth.
- Eat raw or smoked fish.
- Eat cold meats like ham, pork loin or beef jerky.
- Eat unwashed vegetables and fruits.
- If you are pregnant, you must be careful with all the foods mentioned above as well as contact with your cat’s litter box. If your gynecologist tells you to get rid of your cat, you should change your gynecologist, because he or she is clearly not a medical referral. To reassure you, we insist, the best thing to do is to go to the veterinarian to find out if your cat has the parasite. Abandoning or getting rid of an animal is never the solution.