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Toxoplasmosis in CATS

Although we are a dog sanctuary at Mackenzie’s, we still love cats!  Therefore, this month’s veterinary tip will spotlight our feline friends and a unique parasite they can transmit.

If you’ve ever heard the rumor that a pregnant woman should re-home her cat, you have heard about the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.  Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that can live in the intestines of cats that can cause toxoplasmosis infections.  Toxoplasmosis eggs can be found in the stool of an infected cat and the disease is transmitted by ingestion of the eggs.

If a pregnant woman is exposed to T. gondii for the first time while pregnant this parasite can cause severe neurologic and ocular issues in the developing fetus.  Hence, this is where the rumor to re-home the family cat began.

Luckily, our feline companions do not need to be removed from their homes when their female owners become pregnant.  Cats only shed large levels of Toxoplasma eggs for the first three weeks of becoming infected. Also, cats are meticulous groomers so the risk of exposure to eggs on their fur is minimal. Therefore, as long as pregnant women wear gloves when scooping the litter box or non-pregnant family members take over little box duties during pregnancy, families can safely and happily stay together!