Should Pregnant Women Avoid Cats?

Many people hear from those around them that “pregnant women should not be around cats” at least once throughout their lifetime.

But, is this true?

Actually, this is a very debatable topic and the answer to that is yes and no.

Despite the fact that cats do pose danger on pregnant women, there is no reason for pregnant women to get rid of their house cats. Safety measures can be taken that could eliminate any risk of infection or threat.

Why might cats be risky?

Toxoplasmosis is an infection that gets transmitted to humans and animals through a parasite. In most cases, this infection goes unnoticed or causes mild symptoms. However, cats are capable of transmitting the infection orally through their feces.

Cats might carry this infection after eating raw or uncooked meat that carry this parasite, but this infection is not dangerous for the cat. However, the parasites that cats transmit when they are infected cause a huge threat to some who is expecting.

When a pregnant woman cleans the litter box of an infected cat, she is putting herself and her fetus at risk. The complications that result from this infection might affect the fetus at different stages and maybe even later in life.

According to American Pregnancy, when a woman gets infected during the weeks 10-24 of her pregnancy, the fetus is at five to six percent risk of getting serious problems and complications.

This parasite has resulted in a number of cases where the fetus had eye problems or brain damage. In addition to that, toxoplasmosis was linked to blindness and intellectual disability.

In general, some of the most effects might be premature birth, low birth weight, fever, jaundice, retinal abnormalities, and mental retardation.

Why is this topic debatable?

Housecats are at lower risk of being infected with this parasite since they follow a specific commercial diet that is almost always free of infection. Most cats who carry this parasite are cats who live outdoors and feed on preys to survive. These cats are at a higher risk of being infected since they do not follow a specific diet.

Since this parasite is transmitted through undercooked infected meat, it is most likely for a pregnant woman to get the infection from her diet rather than from her cat.

The simple act of holding meat and not washing hands afterwards can contribute in a pregnant woman’s infection

Also, what is interesting is that if a woman is introduced to this parasite before, she will not transmit it to her fetus since she develops a certain kind of immunity. This is why some blood tests that women undergo at the beginning of their pregnancy detect whether or not the body was exposed to this parasite before.

What should you do if you are pregnant?

There is absolutely no need to pack your little one’s bag once you start expecting. All you have to do is follow a list of necessary precautions to minimize the risk of having such a parasite around you at home.

BabyCenter and Dubey have suggested precautions to be followed. Here are some of them:

  • The parasite in the litter box does not become infectious until one to five days. This is why it is better and safer to clean out your cat’s litter box on a daily basis.
  • Try to find someone who is not pregnancy clean out the cat’s litter box
  • Wash the litter box with water more often
  • If you have no other choice but to clean the litter box yourself, make sure to use disposable gloves. After you are done, wash your hands very well. Also, it is recommended to wear a mask from some parts might by airborne and they might cause a risk of infection.
  • Make sure your cat eats packaged food and well-cooked meat. Be careful not to let your cat feed on preys or raw meat.
  • Keep your cat indoors to avoid any contact with mice or other rodents.
  • Keep your cat away from surfaces you use for dining.
  • Always wash your hands after petting your cat and before eating.
  • Do not place your hand in your mouth unless you are sure it is perfectly clean.
  • Make sure about the quality of meat you eat and make sure it is not undercooked.
  • Do not play with outdoor and stray cats.


In conclusion, you do not have to get rid of your favorite furry friend if you are expecting. Just be careful and follow some recommended precautions in order to lower any risk of danger on your fetus.

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