Today’s comment concerns cat nutrition, but only at it’s very end and less the food and more so the results: What goes in must come out and with cats that usually means into the litter box. If being fed the right food, that should be not too much in volume, of the right consistency and not too smelly. Whatever it is supposed to be, it also has to be discarded and dealt with by a human. And that is what my little story today is all about.
Our family this year, just as every year, has something great happening again, this time our son Nick’s wife Kimberly is expecting. In a few months another boy will be joining the gang to keep up with the tradition, in this family there is never a dull moment. Needless to say that everybody is very excited looking forward to that day.
Nick, who joined the Coast Guard a couple years ago, until recently was stationed in Kodiak, Alaska (quite a cool change having been raised in Florida) and is currently going to school in VA, from where, once graduated, he will be transferred to the West Coast of our Sunshine State. Mom is happy, her boy is closer to home again and frequent visits without lengthy 12 hour flights are on the horizon. While Nick is in VA and in preparation of the transfer, the kids had to give up their Alaskan quarters, so Kim is staying with us for the time being. They also own two Himalayans, which moved in with her as well. Actually, they are cool and have a great personality. Those poor things, while their long hair coat was just perfect for Alaska, down here in Florida it’s getting way too hot. They really appreciate living in the air conditioned house. Though sometimes they don’t get along too well with our 5 cats (or is it the other way around?), who believe no other cat should be allowed in our house. And in a very determined fashion they will make that perfectly clear to the temporary house guests. So lately we had to break up quite a few cat fights.
Anyway, ever since Kim moved in, my wife Elizabeth is cleaning Kim’s litter box (well, credit where credit is due, Kim does it sometimes herself too). We no longer have litter boxes, our cats are trained to go and do their business outside in a designated area of our front yard, which now no longer requires lawn mowing. I love our cats. The other day I asked Elizabeth, let Kim do that by herself, don’t clean up after her and her cats. These young people need to learn how to take care of their own things. And her response to the grumpy old man was that pregnant women cannot not deal with cat litter. Well, that was news to me, my comment was “…one of these new fashions again? Listen, cat owning women have been pregnant ever since humans have cats as companions and all their babies have been delivered just fine, so what’s the big deal?”
Anyway, just to proof my point I couldn’t help it but to research the issue on the Internet anyway and here is what I came up with. According to AnimalHealthCare.ca, a Canadian site providing veterinarian advice states:
“Pregnant Women Should Avoid Cleaning Cat Litter”
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by an organism called Toxoplasma gondii. It can infect people if they handle or eat infected raw or partially cooked meats (especially pork, mutton, and lamb), or if they accidentally ingest the eggs (called oocysts) through handling of infected soil, cat litter, etc. In pregnant women, toxoplasmosis can infect the unborn child. The most important source of infection in industrialized countries appears to be contact with meat that contains oocysts, rather than cats.
Toxoplasmosis is not common in cats, particularly domesticated cats, since the primary source of infection is through ingestion of small prey such as birds and mice. The vast majority of cats tend to show no clinical signs during infection and even their blood will test negative until the end of the period of shedding. This makes detection of the disease difficult until it is almost resolved. Clinical signs, when they do occur (rarely) in cats, include some or all of the following: fever, coughing, breathing difficulties, vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, and neurological manifestations.
A similar situation exists in people. Most infections can only be detected with a blood test and often go undetected. Signs of the disease may include swollen lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, sore throat and headache. Toxoplasmosis is often mistaken for something else, like the flu. In fact, it is estimated that up to one-half of the general population has had an asymptomatic infection at some time in their lives.
Human infections acquired from direct contact with shedding cats are extremely rare. The major role that cats appear to play in the spread of toxoplasmosis is in the shedding of oocysts into the environment.
Two groups of people that are at risk and should avoid infection from toxoplasmosis are pregnant women who have never been exposed to toxoplasmosis and people with immuno deficiency disorders (e.g. HIV, AIDS, chemotherapy patients, geriatrics). For these people, certain minimum precautions are suggested:* Cat litter should be discarded daily and only by those family members not at risk. Litter should be disposed of in a plastic bag and hands washed afterwards.* All meat should be cooked so that a distinct color change is noted to indicate satisfactory cooking.* Persons at risk should also wash their hands after handling cats as a further precaution.
* Wearing gloves during box cleaning is a good precaution that any family member can take.If you are concerned about the relative risks of toxoplasmosis in your area, call your veterinarian for answers.”
They also, in their listing of precautions at the end had included “Cats should be restricted from hunting to prevent infection. They should be fed only commercial cat food. Avoid feeding raw foods.”
This part I cannot agree with. So what, because the owner is pregnant, now she has to change the cat’s diet and the cat has to eat highly processed commercial dry junk? Raw feeding is the best one can do for a cat (or dog) and if the pregnant women follow all the other advise, that should and will not be a problem. At least I would say so. But that may make me being wrong just another time? Twice within a few days? You know I hate to admit that. I guess I am still learning every day something new. I am also going to send a link to this comment to Dr. Elsey, maybe he can come up with a solution.