Setting the Story Straight on Toxoplasmosis

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A recent story in The Atlantic was a bit scary for most cat owners. It was entitled How Your Cat is Making You Crazy. It is not about feline behavior problems, but rather a profile of one scientist's view that Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite of cats that can also infect most warm blooded animals including people, can cause a host of mental health problems.

This article is somewhat alarmist and would make you wonder why you might have a cat if it is possible to "catch" toxoplamosis from your feline friend.

Please read this article in our Pet Health Library for a clear and honest summary of this condition.

The take home message is ... cats usually become infected by ingesting the tissues of a mouse, so if you have an indoor cat, it is very unlikely your cat will ever become infected. Cats that do become infected are only temporarily affected, if at all, and will only shed the infective form (in their feces) for a few weeks of their lives, generally when they are kittens. Cats are fastidiously clean, use litter boxes or bury their feces outside, so it is rare for a human to come in contact with cat feces at all.

Also, humans are most commonly infected by eating contaminated food, not from cats. People are far more at risk from many other illnesses and accidents than toxoplasmosis. That is not to say one needs to take precautions. It is always recommended that pregnant women do not change the litter box.

Caution: These news items, written by Lifelearn Inc., are licensed to this practice for the personal use of our clients. Any copying, printing or further distribution is prohibited without the express written permission of Lifelearn Inc. Please note that the news information presented here is NOT a substitute for a proper consultation and/or clinical examination of your pet by our clinic veterinarian.