Can I Clean Our Cat's Litter Box While I'm Pregnant?
Pregnant women should, when possible, have someone else clean their cat's litter box. That's because cats can have an infection called toxoplasmosis (tok-so-plaz-MOE-sis). Usually, cats catch it outdoors by eating rodents, birds, or other small animals. It comes out in their feces (poop), so it can spread to people who touch a soiled litter box.
The infection can cause serious problems in a fetus, including premature birth, poor growth, and severe eye and brain damage. Often, it won't cause symptoms in a pregnant woman who gets infected, but she can still pass it to her developing baby (called congenital toxoplasmosis).
How Can I Protect Myself From Toxoplasmosis?
Keep your cat indoors and feed it commercial dry or canned food (not raw food) to help lower its risk of getting infected. But even if you have an indoor cat, someone else should clean the litter box every day while you are pregnant. They should wash their hands well afterward.
If you must do it yourself, wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well after throwing out the gloves.
Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2023