Can Changing Cat Litter Before You Know You’re Pregnant Put You at Risk for Toxoplasmosis?

The short answer from an Ob/Gyn
woman snuggling with her cat

Q: I have a couple of cats and changed their litter before I found out I was pregnant. Should I be concerned about toxoplasmosis?

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A: Toxoplasmosis infections are rare, so you’ll most likely be fine.

Toxoplasmosis is caused by the protozoan parasite Toxoplasma gondii. You can get it from handling feces of an infected cat, or more commonly, from eating raw or under-cooked meat from animals that have been infected.

In most cases, expectant mothers don’t have any symptoms. But sometimes there can be flu-like symptoms.

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A blood test can show if you’ve been recently infected, or if you have been exposed to it in the past (which would give you immunity and prevent infection in your baby).

For the rest of your pregnancy, avoid changing the cat litter. And wash your hands after touching your cat. I’d also keep your cat inside and away from animals like mice, which could be infected. Wear gloves when gardening as soil can contain cat feces. Finally, cook all meat well before eating it and wash cutting boards, dishes, counters, utensils and your hands with hot, soapy water after they’ve come in contact with raw foods.

― Ob/Gyn Jeff Chapa, MD

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