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Litter box health risks

September 27, 2009 | By Stevecat511

Another contribution from one of my online newsletters.

Cat Crazy Newsletter
Sunday, September 27, 2009

As much as we love our feline friends, many of us do not realize they can be a danger to us. Believe it or not, there are potential health risks for both owners and their cats when we come in contact with their litter box. But understanding those potential risks and knowing how to prevent them will help keep us safe.

Q. Who should stay away from the Litter Box?

A. Expectant mothers . Cat litter contains a mix of harmful pollutants, so if an expectant mother breathes in the dust, the chemicals can affect her fetus. Breathing in cat urine is also harmful for an expectant mother because it contains a high concentration of metals, which can make her and her unborn baby sick. Also, some parasites, like Toxoplasma gondii (Toxoplasmosis) found in some cat feces can cause shortness of breath, fever and neurological disorders. If an expectant mother comes in contact with these parasites, the unborn baby could potentially grow cysts on the brain or develop abnormally; or the mother could miscarry. Pregnant women and immunocompromised individuals should not clean cat litter boxes and they should avoid contact with cat feces and soil where cats may have defecated.

Children are at risk as well. The roundworm is a common cat parasite that passes through their fecal matter or urine and often lives in the cat's litter box. When the parasite comes in contact with a human, it can develop on the skin and inside the body. According to experts, nearly 10,000 children are diagnosed with roundworm each year.

Q. What are the other risks associated with my cat's litter box?

A. Infections. Because cats lick themselves to stay clean, when they are forced to use a dirty litter box, they can develop a urinary tract infection.

Diseases. If multiple cats use the same dirty litter box, they can pass diseases to each other, like feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia & feline infectious peritonitis.

The best way to prevent these dangers is to keep your cat's litter box fresh and clean!

Also, try using rubber gloves when you clean your cat's litter box and wash your hands afterward. If you're pregnant, have someone else change the litter for you.

I hope these simple steps will help protect you, your families and your furry friends from the potential hidden dangers lurking inside the litter box.

Until next time,
Dr. Jon
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