Cat poop may carry Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite of particular concern to pregnant women, since it has been linked to miscarriage and brain damage in children. Additional studies link T. gondii to schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, brain cancer and even to kids’ trouble in school.
Cats become infected with T. gondii by hunting and eating an infected bird, mouse or other small mammal. This parasite reproduces only in the intestine of the cat.
Then the cat spreads oocysts (the eggs of the Toxoplasma gondii) around into the soil, grass, water and elsewhere.
For cat owners, there is little need to worry if your cats stay indoors. If your feline friend – or your neighbors’ – does spend time outside, keep sandboxes covered and wear gloves when gardening.
One estimate shows that the dirt under one’s fingernails could harbor up to 100 T. gondii oocysts.
Toxoplasma has been shown to harm sea otters and caused California to pass laws about the proper disposal of kitty litter to keep the oocysts from entering water runoff where they are long-lived and seldom killed in the water treatment process.
People can also get Toxoplasmosis by eating raw meat and not washing after handling raw meat.
Most people know safe practices in the kitchen but it is the hidden danger from the cute kitty that we are not told about.
We need better control of the cat population, especially feral cats around our city parks and playgrounds.
Owners of free-roaming cats should know the county and city ordinance that requires that pets, cats and dogs, be confined to the owner’s property either in the home or in an escape-proof fence.
All of you with pet cats, please, show that you care about your neighbor and keep your cats at home. Another reason to keep your cat indoors.