Should I Give Up My Cat During Pregnancy?

8 June 2011

News

The thought of avoiding cats never crossed my mind when I was pregnant, but according to a February 2011 survey by Cats Protection and Netmums, almost seven out of ten women admitted they were worried they could catch something from their pet while pregnant and 60% were concerned that their cat could pass on an illness to their new baby.  The survey also revealed that that over 35% of pregnant women were being given the wrong advice about cats and pregnancy.

Cats Protection, the UK’s leading cat welfare charity, are trying to raise awareness of Toxoplasmosis in order to reassure mums-to-be and highlight the low risk factor of catching it from cats whilst pregnant.

The charity decided to conduct the study and launch the results because hundreds of pregnant women phone the charity’s national helpline each year to ask about giving up their cat – something that Cats Protection says is unnecessary and is only adding to the UK’s unwanted cat problem.

Maggie Roberts, Cats Protection’s Director of Veterinary Services, said: “Our research shows that women are worrying about diseases such as toxoplasmosis but they aren’t being presented with accurate information. 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 small indeed – in fact you are more likely to get it from handling raw meat. Of course 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”.

While common sense when dealing with cat litter – such as washing your hands after changing the litter box – is required, and you might want to get someone else to do it while you’re pregnant, that’s no different to basic hygiene, really.

It does seem a bit sad to give up a beloved family pet based on misinformation. So watch the video (linked above) and rest assured while you snuggle up to your feline friends.

Did you give up your cat? Would you? What do you think?

Photo Credit: SpilltoJill at Flickr

TOPICS:   News and Recalls

5 comments

  • Andy
    Give up Kippy? No. Thought never crossed our minds. And never did with our first child either. Simple solution is that I - the bloke, being none pregnant clears up the cat litter etc.
  • Ed
    No need to give up your cat. Toxoplasma is shed in cat faeces but is non-infectious for the first 24-48 hours. Cats are fastidiously clean and one of the major research groups in the world has found it just about impossible to ever find infectious oocysts on cats. Plus, cats can only shed toxoplasma oocysts once in their life for a few weeks. Empty cat litter trays daily so any toxoplasma that was present would be disposed of before infectious. Actually, in addition to just about every study showing no risk of toxoplasmosis associated with cat ownership, some have actually shown less risk! This may be a statistical anomaly but, if you think about it, cats always seem to crap in other people's gardens and keep other cats out, so a cat owner's garden probably has less cat crap in it! The most important step pregnant women can take to reduce the risk of becoming infected is to avoid eating undercooked meat and take care to thoroughly clean surfaces and utensils that have been used in the preparation of raw meat. One thing to bear in mind about cats, however, is that since they can shed toxoplasma oocysts only once in their life, getting a kitten while pregnant is more risky than owning an older cat and it is worth delaying purchase of a kitten. Further, feeding a cat raw meat while someone living in the house is pregnant is also worth avoiding, just in case.
  • Carma
    Should I Give Up My Cat During Pregnancy? .... what do you use it for?
  • Lynley O.
    Good info Ed thanks. What about the idea that a cat may go to sleep on a baby's face? Is that an old wives tale?
  • Emma K.
    That happened to my partner's mum when she was a baby, it's not a myth.

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