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Advice to pregnant cat owners about cats and health

10 May 2013

Advice to pregnant cat owners about cats and health

Cats Protection has noticed that some mothers-to-be, and mothers of babies and young children, are bringing their cats in for rehoming because they are concerned about the effect of their pet on their, or their children’s, health.

Cats Protection is keen to assert that, in many cases, there is no need for them to give up their beloved pet cat.    


The charity is aware that pregnant women can be worried about contracting toxoplasmosis from their cat.  However, the findings of a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) in 2000 found that inadequately cooked or cured meat is the main risk factor for infection with toxoplasmosis.  Contact with cats, cats’ faeces or cats who hunt for food was found not to be a significant risk factor.

Maggie Roberts, Cats Protection’s Head of Veterinary Services, agrees that the chance of a cat owner contracting toxoplasmosis from their pet is unlikely. “There are a lot of old wives’ tales out there. Provided the basic rules of hygiene are observed, pregnant women should have no fear of cats. However, we would advise that the cleaning of cat litter trays should be carried out by a non-pregnant member of the household.”


Pregnant women often worry that their new baby will suffer an allergic reaction to the household cat.  However, a pet is unlikely to be the only trigger for an allergic reaction and removing a cat from the family home does not always solve the allergy problem.

Research at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, USA, and at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, USA, shows that living with pets during the first year of life is associated with a reduced risk of allergy in children.

The research published in medical journals in 2001 looked at exposure to cat allergen and found that the higher the exposure level, the less sensitisation to cat allergen. 

General advice

For pregnant mothers

  • Ask someone else to clean out puss’s litter tray.

  • Before your baby is born, familiarise your cat with new equipment such as prams, cots etc to avoid over-curiosity when the baby arrives.

For parents of babies and young children

  • Make sure that your cat is not left alone with your baby, and keep the nursery door shut when your baby is in there alone

  • Keep all animal preparations separate from human medicines

  • Set aside part of your day if possible for your cat to avoid him feeling neglected.  In addition encourage visitors to enthuse over your cat as well as your baby

  • Keep cat’s bedding clean and changed regularly

  • Empty litter trays frequently and wash and disinfect surrounding areas daily and keep out of reach of toddlers. Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning the litter tray and the surrounding area

  • Ensure that your cat is up-to-date with his vaccinations, flea and worming treatments and is regularly groomed

  • Point out to a toddler that sudden movements, including grasping puss roughly, can frighten him