I'm pregnant and have always been a cat lover. But I've heard that cats can cause problems for a fetus. Is it safe to have a cat during pregnancy, or do I have to get rid of my beloved pet?
You can keep, and continue to cuddle with, your friendly feline — just don't change your cat's litter box. An infection called toxoplasmosis can be spread through soiled litter boxes and can cause serious problems in a fetus, including miscarriage, seizures, and severe eye and brain damage. A pregnant woman who becomes infected often has no symptoms but can still pass the infection on to her developing baby.
But avoiding the infection is pretty easy — just have someone else change the litter box daily, making sure to clean it thoroughly and then washing his or her hands well afterward. What better reason than pregnancy to get out of an often-unpleasant job! It also can help to keep your cat indoors and to not feed it any raw or undercooked foods.
Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: August 2009
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