Dangers of Pregnancy and Kitty Litter

Follow her blog to learn more about living with pets and kids!

June is National Adopt a Cat Month, according to the American Humane Association. So maybe you have a new cat in your home? If you are pregnant you need to be aware that your kitty’s litter can be very dangerous. The cat poop (and soil or sand where cats have been) can carry a parasitic infection called toxoplasmosis. If you get toxoplasmosis while you’re pregnant, or even a few months before you conceive, it can cause serious birth defects such as eye and brain damage.

So now you have a good excuse for having someone else take on the task of changing kitty’s litter!

Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, a veterinarian, working mother and author of Paw Curious, is passionate about pets and their place in the family. Especially, cats and battling litter box issues — the leading reason people give up their cat.
Dr. V’s Litter Box Tips for Families:
- Keep your cat happy and using the box by keeping it nice and tidy. Think of the box as your cat’s outhouse experience: No one likes a gross, stinky outhouse! Scoop once a day and clean the box entirely once a week.
- If you have multiple cats, use the N +1 rule to determine the ideal number of boxes in your house. A two cat house should have three boxes. This reduces competition and inappropriate elimination (going outside the box, in your shoe, etc.).
- Stick to unscented or lightly scented litters such as Swheat Scoop, plus this litter does not use harsh chemicals and since it’s made from wheat, it’s all-natural.
- Cats are very individual and each cat has different preferences for litter box types. Some like covered, others like uncovered. Setting two up side by side can help you determine your cat’s preference.
- Involve the kids! As soon as your toddler is old enough to show interest in the cat, teach him or her proper interaction such as gentle pets on the chest. Teaching from the get-go to avoid pulling tails and “when kitty walks away, that means he needs a break!” will help ensure a lifelong positive relationship. As the kids get older, you can involve them in daily feeding, grooming, and (if you’re lucky!) litter box scooping. All of these activities should be monitored, especially in the beginning, to make sure your child is washing his or her hands afterwards.
- Strong smells can act as a litter box deterrent for some cats. Stick to unscented or lightly scented litters instead of filling the room with air freshener smell.

Dr. V has many more tips, you can click here to read her blog about animals and raising children!

If for some reason you’re the one and only, doctors say you should clean the litter box daily rather than putting it off — the parasite doesn’t become infectious for one to five days. Use gloves when you change the litter, and wash your hands well with soap and water afterward.

You can just as easily be exposed to toxoplasmosis if cats have been in your garden or sandbox. Take the same precautions of using gloves and washing your hands if you’re gardening or touching sand in a sandbox.

To allay your fears, you might want to have a blood test to find out whether you’re immune to the disease. If you’ve been around cats for a while, you may have already had toxoplasmosis, in which case you have nothing to worry about: You won’t get it again and your unborn baby won’t be at risk.

If you took advantage of National Adopt a Cat Month, congratulations on welcoming new addition in your family!

Christine Bachman

About Christine Bachman

Christine Bachman is founder and president of Plan It PR, a public relations and marketing firm. The mother of five shares tips and survival stories in “Play Dates and Power Lunches.” Ms. Bachman started working public relations after a long career in broadcast journalism, which included work as a television anchor, reporter and producer.