Cat Panick

Posted on: September 21, 2011

I love the wisdom of the ages. Inevitably every pregnancy site has a question posted from an anonymous mother to be about her cat and the deadly teratogen that her furry friend is carrying.


“Do I need to give away my cat now that I’m pregnant?”


“No, dear! Just be sure that you don’t get any new cats now that you’re expecting. And absolutely don’t change/clean your cat’s litter box, inhale in that room or even go in it’s general direction. You could come in contact with toxoplasmosa, a parasite that cats can carry and harbor. This parasite can cause great complications to your fetus, so it’s best that you don’t come in contact with cat feces, where the eggs of toxoplasma can be present.”

Here’s some information that is actually enlightening from Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine (you know, like the best vet school in the U.S. besides may be Michigan State):

The life cycle of Toxoplasma gondii is complex and involves two types of host-definitive and intermediate. Cats, both wild and domestic, are the only definitive hosts for Toxoplasma gondii. This means that the parasite can only produce oocysts (eggs) when infecting a cat. When a cat ingests an infected prey (or other infected raw meat) the parasite is released into the cat’s digestive tract.

So your cat either has to eat a wild animal or be fed raw meat. I have a strictly indoor cat. I do not feed her raw meat. The chances of her getting infected are like one in a billion (pure estimate there). How would she eat anything infected?

Because cats only shed the organism for a few days in their entire life, the chance of human exposure is small. Owning a cat does not mean you will be infected with the disease. It is unlikely that you would be exposed to the parasite by touching an infected cat, because cats usually do not carry the parasite on their fur. It is also unlikely that you can become infected through cat bites or scratches. In addition, cats kept indoors that do not hunt prey or are not fed raw meat are not likely to be infected with T. gondii.

In the United States, people are much more likely to become infected through eating raw meat and unwashed fruits and vegetables than from handling cat feces.

The animal, if infected, can only shed toxoplasma for a few days in their ENTIRE LIFE. This means that the chances are your cat, if hunting outdoors and eating prey, has already been exposed to this parasite. And again, if your cat doesn’t go outside they are not going to get it.

Then there’s the real truth of how someone might actually contract this parasite (food, produce), but it’s boring and would require our government to stop looking the other way at how filthy our food and food facilities are and stop taking campaign funds from Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, etc…

Besides, isn’t cat hating more fun for everybody? No one says to give away your dog when it threatens to knock over your baby/bite her in the face/lick her mouth/hands/whatever. News flash-dog’s mouths aren’t clean. Neither are cats. They lick their asses. And I’ve seen dogs eat their own crap/vomit/any stray garbage anywhere. Wise up.

Are these pregnancy sites for idiots? Doesn’t anyone get tired of being given a one paragraph explanation that seems geared toward your average third grader? I would say fourth grader but most average fourth graders here on Long Island are smarter than the average person in this country.

Please tell us the actual facts. Please. I can handle it.



2 Responses to "Cat Panick"

Hi! Interesting post,
Good point about the use of this as a distraction from the state of the food industry. I’m cat, and have been blogging on this very topic recently, wondering why the focus on cats.

and a recent update:

Theres a lot of links there to scientific papers and I do mention in the recent one the tangible risks for pregnant people, and how simple to avoid they are.

Thanks for your comment! I just briefly looked through your posts on toxoplasmosis (I have to read it more thoroughly later, but I love I can has retrovirus, too funny!) and I’m glad you’re bringing awareness to this subject.
I’m just sick to death of the cat-trashing in this society. Although I understand that cats are hosts to this particular parasite I feel that people will take any chance to treat cats terribly, and I think that sucks.
We need to focus more on the reality of the risks and less on fear mongering. Even my outdoor buddy, Charlie (who I lost last Thanksgiving to CRF) wouldn’t have alarmed me (concerning toxoplasmosa) since I’m sure he’d long since passed through his infection phase. And he rarely if ever used the litter for anything other than emergencies (he needed to mark his territory!)


P.S I even considered feeding my new little one Pippa a raw food diet but she didn’t care for it. Oh well!

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