Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Are Our Cats Plotting Against Us?

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Sleuth the Reporter Dog

Sleuth has a hard time understanding why some people don’t like cats…after all, Sleuth has some very good friends of the feline persuasions.  Maybe the recent headlines about parasites coming from cats and causing changes in people’s brains have something to do with the anxiety.  Sleuth asked the Veterinary News Network to look into this strange situation.

1)    Reports from Denmark show that there is a link between the presence of Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite, and greater suicide risk in women.

2)    Toxoplasmosis is a real concern for immunocompromised individuals as well as women that are pregnant. Some people will consider giving up their cats because of this.

3)    Toxoplasma gondii is a parasite that must complete its life cycle in cats and this has led to increased concern among cat owners about the potential dangers of living with cats.

4)    Cats become infected with the parasite after eating prey (small mammals or birds) that are already infected.  The parasite can then complete its life cycle in the cat’s gut, releasing millions of eggs into the environment.

5)    Thankfully, most cats will only shed the parasite once in their lifetimes and only for a period of 8-21 days.  The parasite eggs become infective after being in the environment for 1-5 days.

6)    People can also get Toxo from eating undercooked meats, failing to thoroughly wash fruits or vegetables or from failing to wash their hands after gardening or cleaning the litter box.

7)    Keeping your cat indoors and preventing him/her from hunting is one of the best ways to decrease the potential for infection with Toxoplasma.

8)    Cleaning litter boxes once daily will also reduce the risk of infection.  Wear gloves and relegate the cleaning duties to someone else if your immune system is suppressed for any reason.

9)    It is NOT necessary to get rid of your cat.  Most cats are not actively shedding the parasite.  Ask your veterinarian about steps you can take to minimize any risks.  He or she is well-versed in zoonotic diseases and can help you understand any possible hazards.

10)    Trust a site like MyVNN.com to provide you with accurate and unbiased pet health information.