Taking care of a cat or another pet while pregnant may help with a mother’s mood, providing her with relaxation, stress relief and assistance in overcoming any anxieties she may be experiencing. However, pregnant women need to be especially careful when caring for a cat during a pregnancy as doing so can have dangerous consequences, the likes of which may never have previously crossed your mind.
Pregnant women may be unaware of the bacteria or parasites that are present within a cat’s intestines called toxoplasmosis, or as it’s more commonly known, cat feces disease. Toxoplasmosis can enter the pregnant woman’s body after coming into contact with cat feces and then not properly washing the hands. The bacteria can transfer onto the unborn child through the mother’s body.
The most dangerous time to contact this infection is during the first 3 months of a pregnancy, and in severe cases, this condition can lead to the unborn child losing his/her life while still in the womb. Alternatively, the effects of the bacteria may manifest as a disability which may only become apparent around 6-7 months after the child’s birth, with potential disorders ranging from blindness, to learning and neurological disabilities. That being said, not everybody who contacts the infection will suffer severe symptoms. Fortunately, some infants contacting the bacteria do not experience any irregularities whatsoever. Nevertheless, no mother would like to put her child at the risk of developing a health disorder. Therefore, prevention is key.
If mothers-to-be are healthy and have a strong immune system, the symptoms of this condition may be similar to those of a common cold that goes away by itself. Aside from bacteria contained in cat feces, pregnant women should also be careful not to allow cats to jump or sleep on their body as this could also negatively affect the unborn child.
M.D., Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, 1988.