An aside about cats, poop and toxoplasmosis.

Kittens!! Cute or evil disease carriers? According to my doctor, these babies kill babies.

On that first visit with my ob/gyn she said there were no tests to run except toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease often blamed on cats that is more likely to be spread through raw meat and fecal contamination on people’s hands. Oh and from now on, she said, I’m not allowed to touch my cats.

Hold the phone. Not touch them? At all?

I have two cats in my apartment that, although they are admittedly adopted from farms in the Austrian countryside, only see the outdoors from our balcony. After testing once for infection, shouldn’t that suffice? No, she said, the only way I could be sure that I was protecting myself from infection was to not touch the cats, at all. Period.

Our cats share our lives in every way, they sit on our laps, jump on the counters and sleep in our bed. I consider it a victory if I manage to leave the apartment fur-free. Getting Oliver to take on cleaning the cat box for 9 months was a distinct possibility, but a no-contact policy with the cats for all that time just wasn’t feasible. But my doctor was adamant. If I didn’t find a way, I was consciously placing myself at risk (the horrible effects of which she then rattled off in detail).

I scoured the internet looking for a more reasonable take on things and after an ill-advised foray into pregnancy message boards (oh the horror and unhelpfulness), asked a non-expert whose practical advice I’ve come to enjoy and admire.

If you’ve landed here trying to find advice about pregnancy and cats, or are curious, click here to read the Straight Poop About Toxoplasmosis.


5 responses to “An aside about cats, poop and toxoplasmosis.

  1. Well congrats on your pregnancy! And that really sucks about not touching cats. I’ve been following your blog recently because I’m moving to Nuremberg myself and how cool is it to find another blogger in the same area? Very cool, so good luck with your pregnancy and keep posting. Best wishes and I hope you get to touch your cats!

  2. I’m so sorry about my comments thus far- I read one of your posts and didn’t see the conclusion of it and thought something else. Anyway I’m really really sorry. But that’s crazy about cats- if they are up to date on shots, they are indoor cats, I mean it seems fine to me. What are you going to do? My friend is pregnant and has somewhere close to 4 cats- I don’t think anyone has told her such things.

  3. It’s quite all right, no worries. 🙂 The cat thing is complicated because evey doctor and country seems to have a different take on how to handle it. My doctors didn’t even know you could test the cats themselves. As long as they don’t go out, don’t get fed raw meat and don’t come into contact with rodents…you’re ok as long as your partner cleans the catbox. The linked article offers a pretty good take on this.

  4. It is quite alright to touch your cats while pregnant. Your doctor has not been educated about good old fashioned infection control! I’m a student nurse and already I know that nurses know more about this sort of thing than doctors do! Every time you touch your cats, make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards — same as what you do after handling any raw meat and raw poultry. And if you do happen to end up changing the litter tray because your partner isn’t available, wear gloves and a disposable surgeon-type mask (you can buy them from the chemist) and dispose of them immediately after use, and again, always wash your hands regardless. Cats are much cleaner animals than us humans. It is us who are the most germy, filthy living creatures on this planet. Not dogs, not cats.

  5. Hi Kimberly, I definitely agree with you that something just wasn’t right with the advice I was being given by this doctor. Even allowing for cultural differences in how she would approach housepet hygiene, a no-touch policy for my cats wasn’t just un-realistic

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