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My wife is pregnant and has a dog/cat kennel. Is it really true that pregnant women should not be around cat litter because it's harmful for the baby?

If it is true, how close can she be around it? Is it safe to be in the same building since the scent could get in the air condition vents?

7

The issue isn't the litter itself; it's the waste.

The Centers for Disease Control report that there is a risk of exposure to toxoplasmosis, an infection caused by a parasite. This parasite can be found in cat feces, though the CDC reports that exposure is more likely from undercooked meat or gardening. (They don't say, but I assume the gardening risk is through animal droppings in general, not just cats.)

The CDC gives the following advice to mitigate the risk:

  • If you own a cat, have a non-pregnant person change the litter box every day. If there is no one else to change the litter box, wear gloves and wash hands with soap and running water after changing the litter.

  • Risk may be reduced if the litter box is changed every day.

  • Keep cats indoors.

  • Avoid adopting or handling stray cats.

  • Feed cats only canned or dried commercial cat food, never undercooked or raw meat.

  • Do not bring a new cat into your house that might have been an outdoor cat or might have been fed raw meat.

From what the CDC says, I think avoiding being in the same building as a litterbox would be an over-reaction. Continue to enjoy your cats, but to reduce the risk as much as possible, have somebody else do the box maintenance or wear gloves and wash up afterwards.

For more information and citations, see the linked article.

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  • Note that if your cats str entirely indoor beasts, and have been getting regular veterinary treatment and prepared food, it's unlikely they are carrying anything the humans aren't ... – keshlam Apr 25 '15 at 3:57
  • @keshlam that's probably true. The CDC does include "keep cats indoors" on its risk-reduction list. I don't know if cats can be exposed through the occasional mouse that gets into the house (with predictable results). – Monica Cellio Apr 26 '15 at 3:27
  • The occasional mouse could be s risk... how much of one presumably depends on local prevalence of the parasite and whether your cat eats its toys or just plays with them until they break. – keshlam Apr 26 '15 at 15:42
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    @keshlam right, so indoor cats have much-reduced risk, but if you live somewhere where the occasional mouse can get in (as opposed to, say, a 10th-floor condo), the risk doesn't go to zero. How cautious to be varies by person (and, as you note, by what your cats do with mice). It's not something I would tend to worry about, but somebody with more complicated medical stuff going on (compromised immune system, for example) might be much more cautious. – Monica Cellio Apr 26 '15 at 15:44
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    if the wife have handeled cats for several years it is highly likely she have been infected whith toxoplasmosis and is now imune,toxoplasmosis is only dangerous if the woman is infected shortly before or during pregnancy it is also safe to asume that almost all cats are carriers of toxoplasmosis,toxoplasmosis can lead to abortion in all mamals including humans it is therefore sugested to keep cats away from pregnant animals if they not already have been exposed to cats over some time. – trond hansen Jun 4 '17 at 10:11
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From what I understand, and I am not a doctor, the issue is possible infections from the waste, and really just solid waste since urine is sterile. A pregnant woman is more susceptible and the risks are higher. It isn't airborne, just touch, so having someone else clean the box and toss the waste is all that is needed.

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