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When Cat Owners Get Pregnant

When a woman finds out she's pregnant, it's time to start asking questions about how the pregnancy and resulting baby will affect her relationship with her cat. Many young mothers may also be concerned about whether a cat can be a danger to the unborn baby.

While cats usually adapt quickly to a new baby in terms of behavior, there are some precautions that must be followed to manage the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis -- a parasite that can be transmitted from cat feces. An expectant mother should change and clean cat litter boxes and food dishes while wearing disposable gloves and even a surgical mask, or, better still, another member of the family should take over this job until the baby stops nursing.

Toxoplasmosis can be a danger to the fetus, especially during the second half of pregnancy. But it's no reason to shun your cat or worse, get rid of her altogether. If a fresh infection is immediately detected, it can be successfully treated with drugs. Plus, 40% of woman are actually immune to toxoplasmosis. If you own a cat and become pregnant, tell your gynecologist to run a blood test to check for this immunity. And indoor-only cats who eat prepared pet food don't usually transmit toxoplasmosis (raw meat can be a source of infection).

If you're pregnant or nursing, you don't have to stop touching your cat. However, you should take precautions and wash your hands carefully after touching her, especially if you're breast-feeding your baby.

Regarding your relationship with your cat, in some cases, she can become jealous of the baby. This is normal. The situation is comparable to that of a small child getting a new sister or brother. Before you have your baby, get your cat used to the upcoming change. Since your cat won't be able to lie as easily on your lap, have her get used to lying on a cushion nearby. Also, your partner or other people you live with can be encouraged to lavish affection on your cat so she knows she's still loved.

As soon as the baby can crawl, he or she will have a lot of fun playing with the cat. However, small children must be supervised with your cat until they are 7 years old.

With a few precautions and some minor planning, your new baby will be accepted into the family and not cause many problems for your cat.

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