That darn cat

Your cat brings you a lot of joy, but she can also carry a dangerous parasite. Most people are unaffected if they catch it, but in some people the parasite causes a disease called toxoplasmosis. This disease is especially dangerous in pregnant women because it can damage their fetus’s developing brain, eyes and other organs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, you don’t need to send Tabby packing. Just be careful to reduce your risk of exposure to the parasite:

  • Avoid changing cat litter if possible. If no one else can perform the task, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and warm water afterwards.
  • Ensure that the cat litter box is changed daily.
  • Feed your cat commercial dry or canned food, not raw or undercooked meats.
  • Keep cats indoors.
  • Avoid stray cats, especially kittens. Do not get a new cat while you are pregnant.
  • Keep outdoor sandboxes covered.
  • Wear gloves when gardening and during contact with soil or sand because it might be contaminated with cat feces that contain Toxoplasma. Wash hands with soap and warm water after gardening or contact with soil or sand.
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