How safe is it to clean out a litter box while pregnant?

Whether you have an indoor-only or outdoor cat will affect how safe it is to clean its litter box when pregnant. There is a risk for toxoplasmosis.

It may not be safe to clean out a litter box while pregnant. It is best to avoid contact with cat feces while pregnant because a cat's feces may contain Toxoplasma gondii. This is a parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a disease that can be harmful to the brain and vision of a developing fetus. A pregnant woman can become infected by exposure to a cat's feces while changing a litter box or eating anything that has been infected by the cat's feces, particularly from its paws on the kitchen counter. Some people have been infected and can be tested to see if they are immune.

Dr. Peter T. Nassar, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrician & Gynecologist)

The litter box is kind of a dangerous place for pregnant women. It's more than just a messy task; it can cause an infection called toxoplasmosis which is a parasite found in cat feces. If you get infected with toxoplasmosis, which is pretty rare, it can lead to problems with the baby, including stunted growth and low birth weight. It can also cause jaundice, mental retardation and convulsions or seizures.

Avoid the kitty litter—put that on someone else in the family while you are pregnant, or have the cat go outside. If you work in a veterinary office, avoid dealing with cat feces altogether.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.

Pregnant women should avoid changing cat litter due to the risk of toxoplasmosis, which can be transmitted from cat feces.

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