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post #1 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-27-2010, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
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Cat litter and women

I work at the humane society in the mornings cleaning the cat cages, and someone told me I shouldn't because cat litter can harm women's reproductive systems. Is this true?? The only thing I have been able to find is that you shouldn't clean cat litter when your pregnant, because you can get a listeria infection from it (same as unpasteurized milk) that can cause a miscarriage.
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post #2 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 12:05 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

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Originally Posted by Binkalette
I work at the humane society in the mornings cleaning the cat cages, and someone told me I shouldn't because cat litter can harm women's reproductive systems. Is this true??
No

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Originally Posted by Binkalette
The only thing I have been able to find is that you shouldn't clean cat litter when your pregnant, because you can get a listeria infection from it (same as unpasteurized milk) that can cause a miscarriage.
Almost correct...it's toxoplasmosis not listeria.


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post #3 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 12:17 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

Agreed with above. It is toxoplasmosis. Listeria comes from deli meats, hot dogs, etc. Not that pregnant women should not have them, but caution should be given. I will be an ob/gyn by this July .

As for toxoplasmosis, the majority of cases come from humans consuming contaminated meat. Half of the US is already seropositive. Cats are considered a carrier but this is how it happens: the cat consumes an infected animal such as a rodent, the toxoplasmosis is passed through the stool and into the litter box. Human cleans litter box and contaminates himself/herself via the fecal oral route. If a woman during pregnancy acquires this as a primary infection, especially in the first trimester, it is considered a threat to the fetus (she will test positive for IgM antibodies). Being positive for IgG does not confer a threat as that suggests she was already infected some time ago, it is the primary infection that is a threat.

I have seen some women go so far as even get rid of their cats during their pregnancy, as in forever. That is overkill imho. Aside from the fact that she is more likely to get it from what she eats, so long as she does not touch the litter, she should be fine.

Theoretically, if someone is really concerned, perhaps frequent handwashing will further reduce risk of a primary infection as a large proportion of infections that arise from stool are from the fecal oral route (you know, didn't wash hands, trace amount of stool on hands gets consumed during dinner, etc.....gross ---actually, studies have shown that the average person consumes a small/trace amount of stool on a daily basis...yum ). Alcohol rub should never take the place of handwashing if you can avoid it. Handwashing actually removes certain pathogens that alcohol will not.
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post #4 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 01:26 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

I totally thought this was literally about how women are supposedly better at cleaning the litter box, just by reading the title.

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Originally Posted by sweetyanna
Theoretically, if someone is really concerned, perhaps frequent handwashing will further reduce risk of a primary infection as a large proportion of infections that arise from stool are from the fecal oral route (you know, didn't wash hands, trace amount of stool on hands gets consumed during dinner, etc.....gross ---actually, studies have shown that the average person consumes a small/trace amount of stool on a daily basis...yum ). Alcohol rub should never take the place of handwashing if you can avoid it. Handwashing actually removes certain pathogens that alcohol will not.
Always wash your hands, I don't take any chances with that stuff, even if your pregnant definitely take precautions. And, everyone consumes a small trace of stool daily?

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post #5 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 01:41 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

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Originally Posted by Einherjar
Always wash your hands, I don't take any chances with that stuff, even if your pregnant definitely take precautions. And, everyone consumes a small trace of stool daily?
I totally agree. We're supposed to be washing our hands regularly anyways. We'd have much fever URI cases and other infectious diseases. And yes, the vast majority of us and possibly all of us consume small amounts of stool daily. It's a matter of how detailed you want to design the research study to measure the stool consumed. But yea, I was just as surprised when I first learned that in medical school. Sure, the world isn't sterile but consuming stool is just...yea xD.
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post #6 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 01:50 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

I am immuno-compromised and am treated with low-doses of a chemo. I do the majority of our shopping and my husband works with people who have children (walking germ-factories that pick up *every* bug that goes around and share it with their parents). When I visit him at work, and if anyone or their children have been sick, he opens/closes doors for me to go in/out and the ill people keep their distance from me. My husband, no matter how careful he tries to be, has become ill a few times ... but I am very surprised that I have not. I attribute it to my diligence in hand-washing and sanitizing.



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post #7 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 02:07 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

Toxoplasmosis can also be carried by insects, which we all know our cats will consume with relish (no, not the pickled stuff in a jar ). So pregnant women should always take precautions if they need to take care of the litterbox. It's recommended that they wear disposable gloves. And I would wash my hands after removing the gloves as well.


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post #8 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 02:14 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

I work with attorneys, so I may be immune to stool by now.

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post #9 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 02:56 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

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I work with attorneys, so I may be immune to stool by now.
Snork!



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post #10 of 22 (permalink) Old 02-28-2010, 10:33 AM
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Re: Cat litter and women

I heard that if you are pregnant but have already been scooping the litterbox for years, you are probably immune to the Toxoplasmosis but if/when I do become pregnant, I'm not taking my chances. I tell my DH every once in awhile "Someday, you might get to do this for 9 months straight!!"
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