August 8 is International Cat Day. IFAW established this day as a chance to celebrate the bond between humans and cats, the internet’s current obsession. Founded in 1969, IFAW (the International Fund for Animal Welfare for the uninitiated) saves animals in crisis around the world. Despite the fact that cats make excellent companions, our feline friends are often expelled from their homes if the woman of the house gets pregnant. This unfortunate parting often results from unnecessary fear of toxoplasmosis (an infection caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii). Expelling a cat from home because of a pregnancy is inappropriate. Concerns about Toxoplasmosis can easily be managed, and the sorrow of a forced parting can be prevented.
In fact, the most common way for humans to become infected with the parasite has nothing to do with cats at all. Rather, people are infected by eating undercooked meat (pork, beef, horse, chicken, etc.). You may also become infected working with soil, gardening or handling raw meat.
Did you know a cat sheds the parasite in its faeces only once in its entire lifetime, for about 2 weeks. So the chances of becoming infected from your pet are quite low.
Tips for cat guardians
1. If you can avoid cleaning the litter box, do so; if not, wear gloves and wash your hands with soap afterwards.
2. Clean the litter box daily. The parasite passed in the cat’s faeces doesn’t become infectious for at least 24 hours; daily removal of feces avoids contact with the active parasite.
3. Avoid letting your cat outside where it eats rodents. Feed your cat well-balanced, commercial cat food.
4. Keep your kitty healthy – make sure vaccination and deworming are up to date, have him or her spayed or neutered, and give your cat lots of love.
5. Cook all meat well before eating it.
6. After handling raw meat, wash your hands and utensils with soap and water.
7. Wash raw vegetables with soap & water, or cook them, before eating.
8. Wash your hands with soap and water after gardening or working in the soil.
If we all stick to these simple guidelines, a mother-to-be can enjoy the companionship of a purring pet throughout her pregnancy, and the house pet can stay where it belongs, with the family.