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rec.pets.cats: Miscellaneous Information FAQ

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Archive-name: cats-faq/misc
Last-modified: 13 Aug 1999

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                           Miscellaneous Information
   Note: Please see the [1]Table of Contents FAQ for a complete list of

   Originally written 1991 & updated through 1997 by Cindy Tittle Moore.
   Maintained by the Fanciers website as of July 1999.
Removing Urine Odor

   For fresh urine: clean the spot with any good carpet shampoo (Spot
   Shot is one). Then soak it with plain old club soda, leave it for
   about ten minutes and blot it up.
   If the urine has soaked the pad and the floor below that, it will be
   difficult to remove the odor regardless of what you use.
   To find spots if you're not sure where they are, get a UV lamp that
   has the filter built in (to eliminate any remnant visible light).
   Urine fluoresces in "black light." You can get them at hardware
   stores. There are also UV lamps in hobby stores and places that cater
   to spelunkers and rockhounds, but they're more expensive. The UV
   source is safe as long as you use the longwave lamp and not the
   shortwave lamp used for tanning.
  Enzymatic products
   Products that remove odors: Nature's Miracle (carpet, has 800 number);
   Simple Solution (carpet and other items); Outright! (carpet); Resolve
   (carpet, perhaps other items); Odor Mute (originally for deskunking
   dogs, has other applications, leaves white residue, works on
   concrete). Odor Abolish, by Endosome Biologicals, may also be useful.
   These products use enzymes to break down the odor causing compounds in
   urine and feces, and are quite effective.
   When using enzymatic products, it is important to use freshly diluted
   enzymes, let it soak in as deeply as the urine has penetrated, and
   *keep the area warm and wet for 24 hours*. Chemical reactions,
   including enzymatic reactions, go faster at higher temperatures.
   Unfortunately, most enzymatic reactions don't do well much over 102F
   (38-39C)-- so not too hot. Try covering the area with towels soaked in
   plain water after applying the enzyme, then a shower curtain or other
   plastic over that to make sure the area stays moist.
   The enzymes in laundry products are the same as those in the expensive
   odor-killing products, but they cost less than 1/3 as much. They work
   just as well. Biz is one product. You'll find it in your grocery
   laundry section with the pre-soak laundry stuff. Remember, you have to
   soak the area and then cover it to keep it from drying out. The smelly
   area must be wet with the enzyme for 24 hours or more.
  Launderable items
   On launderable items: put in the washing machine with a cup of vinegar
   and no detergent, then wash again as usual.
   If you have concrete (eg, in the basement) into which urine has been
   soaked, this can be difficult to remove, as unsealed concrete is very
   porous. You will have to neutralize the urine and then seal the
   concrete properly. A specialty cleaning service is probably the best
   way to properly neutralize the urine in the concrete. Vinegars and
   other cleaners may help, but only temporarily. Odor Mute is reputed to
   work on concrete. Improving the ventilation may also help. In extreme
   cases, pouring another 1/4-1/2 inch layer of concrete over the
   original concrete will solve the problem.
  Hardwood floors
   Hardwood floors that have been stained with urine can be difficult to
   clean. First treat with an enzyme-based product such as Nature's
   Miracle to remove the odor. You can find wood bleaches and stains at
   your hardware store: you may want to consult with one of the employees
   on what is available. You will need to remove any varnish or
   polyurethane from the area, sand it down a bit, bleach and/or stain
   it, and then apply the protective coat. There are also professional
   companies you can consult. In severely stained cases, you may have to
   replace the wood.
Catnip and Valerian.

   Catnip is a plant that causes various reactions in cats. Very young
   cats and kittens will not be affected by catnip. About 20% of cats are
   never affected by catnip. It is not known why or how catnip has the
   effect it does on the rest of the cat population. It is a
   non-addictive "recreational drug" for cats with no known harm to the
   cat. There was an article in Science [exact reference?] on the
   neurological effects of catnip on cats. It seems to stimulate the same
   pleasure centers in the feline brain that orgasm does. Most cats
   "mellow out" and become sleepy and happy, others start acting very
   kittenish. A small percentage will become possessive of their catnip
   and may snap or hiss at you.
   You can find wild catnip plants in most weedy areas, and harvest the
   seed. Or you can buy seed from companies like Burpees or Parks or
   Northrup King -- most garden centers have catnip seed this time of
   year -- check the "herb" section. Or even seed racks in the grocery
   and discount stores.
   Catnip is easy to grow. You will need to keep the plant itself out of
   the reach of the cats as catnip-lovers will quickly destroy it. The
   best strategy is to get some growing, and then pinch and prune it
   regularly and give the harvested leaves to your cat. Keep it in its
   own pot, as it will spread rapidly. Cats will tend to dig up
   transplanted catnip and eat it roots and all, but are much gentler on
   plants started from seed. The leaves have to be bruised to release the
   odor, and transplanting seems to be enough bruising...
   Nepeta cataria is the common catnip; other Nepeta species have varying
   amounts of "active ingredient". A good one is Nepeta mussini, a
   miniature-leaved catnip that makes a good rockgarden plant. Nepeta is
   a genus of the Lamiaceae (=Labiatae), the mint family. There are about
   250 species of catnip, plus a bunch of hybrids between species. Only
   about 10 are available in this country, though.
   You can order seeds from Burpee (215-674-9633)
   Nepeta cataria B61424 $1.25; N. mussinii B38828 $1.45
   Valerian root is an herb with effects very similar to catnip and
   generally makes cats a bit nuts. It is however not as readily
   available as catnip and perhaps a bit more potent than catnip.
   Catnip and Valerian both act as sedatives on humans.
Cats and Water

   There are breeds of cats with an affinity for water. There have been
   reports from rec.pets.cats readers about cats getting into showers
   with them; other anecdotes have been very entertaining to read.
   Most cats, whether or not they like to get wet, will be fascinated
   with watching water drip out of faucets or drain out of tubs, sinks,
   and toilets.
   Reports of cats drinking from the bottom of the shower, from the sink
   and other unlikely places are common. Some cats can be fussy about
   water; they seem to like it as fresh as possible, preferably still
   moving. You may be able to stop some of this behavior by changing the
   cat's water every day and moving it some distance away from the food
   dish. In general this habit will not hurt your cat, however unpleasant
   it may look to you. Toilet water drinking *should* be discouraged, but
   this is easily done by leaving the lid down.
Do All Cats Purr?

   Most domestic cats purr. But do the big ones? Most people say not, but
   from The Big Cat:
     Assertions have been widely made that the roaring cats above are
     not able to purr, assertions that have now been disproven. George
     B. Schaller reports purring in the lion, tiger, and leopard, as
     well as in the cheetah, but remarks that in the lion the sound is
     produced only during exhalation and appears to be a much less
     common vocalization than in the domestic cat [160]. Snow leopards
     purr, like the house cat, during both exhalation and inhalation
     [60]. Others have reported that tame, young adult tigers, leopards,
     jaguars, and cheetahs purr in response to petting. Finally, purring
     has even been reported in five species of viverrids, as well as
     suckling black bear cubs and nursing spotted hyenas [36]. These
     observations are interesting when compared with Gustave Peters'
     comment that there is still some question about the occurrence of
     purring, in a strictly defined sense, in the wild cats [178]. He
     questions whether the noise identified as a purr from the big cats
     is pthe same in detail and manner of production as the purr of a
     domestic cat. Of the seven large cats he studied (he did not
     consider the cheetah), he observed true purring only in the puma,
     but considered it probable that snow leopards and clouoded leopards
     also purr. Thus there is still some doubt about the distribution of
     the ability to purr among the wild cats.
   [36] Ewer, R. F. 1973. THE CARNIVORES. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University
   [60] Hemmer, H. 1972. UNCIA UNCIA. MAMMALIAN SPECIES No. 20, 5 pp.
   [160] Schaller, G. B. 1972. THE SERENGETI LION. Chicago: University of
   Chicago Press.
   [178] Stuart-Fox, D. T. 1979. MACAN: THE BALINESE TIGER. Bali Post
   (English edition) July 23, 1979, pp. 12-13.
Other Cats in the Cat Family

   Other cats in the cat family are usually not suitable as domestic
   cats. Generally, they are too big, strong, and destructive. In
   addition many states have strict regulations about keeping wild
   animals as pets. It also appears cruel to have to defang and declaw
   these animals to make them safe.
   If you have the overwhelming urge to be around wild animals, your best
   bet is your local zoo. Many zoos have volunteer docent programs and
   you will not only be able to spend time with the various animals, but
   also learn a lot about them and have the opportunity to educate the
   public while conducting tours or participating in other public
   relations programs.
Cat Genetics and Coloring

   A cat with patches of red and black is a tortoiseshell, or 'tortie'.
   Add white, and you get a calico. A tortoiseshell that is homozygous
   for the recessive 'dilution' gene is referred to as a blue-cream, and
   that's what color it is: patches of soft grey and cream. This is the
   same gene that turns black cats 'blue' (grey), and red cats cream. A
   blue-cream and white is generally referred to in the cat world as a
   dilute calico. The pattern of black/red or blue/cream can either be in
   big dramatic patches, brindling, or some of both. Having more white
   seems to encourage the formation of the big patches.
   Red in cats is a sex-linked color, carried on the X gene. Therefore, a
   male cat whose X carries red will be a red tabby. A female cat who
   carries one red and one non-red X will be a patched tabby, a
   tortoiseshell, or a calico (if she also has the dominant gene for
   white markings). A female cat who is homozygous for red (has it on
   both X genes) will be a red tabby. This is why you see more male red
   tabbies than females. This is also why male calicos are so rare: you
   have to have two X genes to be a calico. Male calicos have genetic
   aberrations of various sorts, of which XXY is most common. While they
   are most commonly sterile, there *are* documented cases of fertile
   male calicos. However, the generalization that "all calicos/torties
   are female" is true 99.999 percent of the time.
   The reason red females are "uncommon" is that, statistically, the
   number of red males is equal to the number of tortoiseshell/calico,
   patched tabby, and red females. Red males and tortie/calico/patched
   tabby females can be produced when only one parent has the red gene,
   but to produce a red female, you must cross a red male with a
   red/tortie/calico/patched tabby female. That is why red females are
   uncommon. But not "impossible", in the sense that a male calico is
   A "solid red" cat will always display the tabby pattern (although it
   may be very slight or even undetectable without brushing the fur back
   to check). There's another gene at work which controls "agoutiness"
   (whether individual hairs are banded or solid). Cats who are
   non-agouti will not generally display the tabby pattern, except in red
   areas. The non-agouti gene does not affect phaeomelanin, the red
   pigment, so red cats always show their tabby pattern.
   The red gene "overrides" the solid gene, making the tabby pattern
   visible again. (And on other solid colors, you can sometimes notice
   the underlying stripes, especially in strong light.) Solid red cats at
   cat shows may or may not be genetically solid--they are (generally
   longhairs) bred for the "blurring" of the tabby pattern, producing a
   cat that doesn't have dramatic markings.
        Solid                          Tabby
        -----                          -----
        black                          brown tabby
        blue                           blue tabby
        red                            red tabby
        cream                          cream tabby
        chocolate                      chocolate tabby
        cinnamon                       cinnamon tabby
        fawn                           fawn tabby

   The colors a calico will produce depend on the color of the sire. But
   at minimum, she can produce red and non-red sons, and patched
   tabby/tortoiseshell/calico daughters, as well as non-red daughters.
   Whether she will produce tabbies or not depends on the genetic makeup
   of the sire. And *any* of the kittens could have white markings, or
   Basic cat colors:
        Color                           Dilute form
        -----                           -----------
        black                           blue (a grey color)
        chocolate                       lilac (a pale pinkish-grey)
          (chocolate is a recessive gene which changes black to brown)
        cinnamon                        fawn (a very pale pinkish-tan)
          (a light reddish brown, found mostly in Siamese and Abyssinians)
        red                             cream (ranges from yellowish
                                               to tannish or buff)
          (red and cream are sex-linked, on the X gene, and mask
          the previous colors.  Actually, there's a separate shade
          of red/cream to match each of the previous colors, but
          it's hard to tell them apart, unless you're dealing with
          a tortoiseshell or patched tabby, which has the non-red
          areas to give you a hint.)
          (Here we refer to the dominant form, which is masking over
          the previous colors.  It has no dilution.)

   Everything else is a modifier!
Modifier                                         Dominant/Recessive
        --------                                         ------------------
        white spotting (paws, etc)                           dominant
        polydactyly (extra toes)                             dominant
        manx (taillessness)                                  dominant
        silver (inhibits hair color at roots)                dominant
        white locketing (small spots on chest and/or groin)  recessive
        dilution (black->blue)                               recessive
        chocolate dilution                                   recessive
        cinnamon dilution                                    recessive
        bobtail (partial taillessness)                       recessive
        solid (no tabby markings)                            recessive
        long hair                                            recessive

   Some genes are incompletely dominant to each other, and are part of a
   series. For example, the siamese/burmese genes, from most to least
   Burmese/Siamese/blue-eyed white/pink-eyed white (albino)
   The coloring of the Burmese and the points of the Siamese is
   temperature sensitive. The cooler extremities of the Siamese are
   darker; a Burmese that has had a fever may grow in lighter fur for a
   while! Such changes are usually temporary, but may take some time to
   grow out.
   All cats (even those homozygous for solid) have a tabby pattern. There
   are different tabby patterns, from most to least dominant:
   Mackerel/Classic/Ticked. The spotted tabby pattern is thought to be a
   var`qiant of the Mackerel pattern, not genetically distinct, but the
   jury is not yet in.
   Smokes and Chinchillas. This is the combination of the expression of
   the silver gene (a dominant), and the gene for solid color (a
   recessive). Other modifiers account for whether the cat is a referred
   to as a smoke, a shaded, or a chinchilla. From most to least colored:
   a "smoke" has white roots, a "shaded" has about half and half white
   and color along the length of the hair, and a "chinchilla" has color
   only on the very tips of the hair. If the cat is a tabby instead of a
   solid color, that is a silver tabby. And if the base color is not
   black, that would be added to the name as well: blue-cream smoke, red
   silver tabby, etc.
Cat Static

   During winter or other dry seasons, cats may pick up static and
   discharge it every time you pet them. One solution is to rub them with
   a fabric softener sheet. The chemicals in fabric softener are not a
   problem for cats, although some of the more heavily-scented ones may
   be objectionable to the cat.
   Some people invest in humidifiers for the house, and that reduces the
   static in a cat's fur as well.
Preparing Food for your Cat

   The following recipes are extracted from D.S. Kronfeld, 1986.
   Therapeutic diets for dogs and cats including a simple system of
   recipes. Tijdschrift voor diergeneeskunde 111 (suppl. 1) 37s-41s.
  Basic recipe for cat maintenance diet
     * 70 g dry white rice (1/3 c)
     * 140 g 80% lean hamburger (2/3 c)
     * 30g beef liver (1/8 c)
     * 11 g bone meal (1 tbsp)
     * 5 g corn oil (2 tsp)
     * 2 g iodized salt (1/2 tsp)
   Combine rice, 2/3 c water, bone meal, salt, and corn oil. Simmer about
   20 min. Add meat and beef liver; simmer for 10 minutes. Cool before
   serving. Can be frozen or refrigerated for several days.
   Yield: 800 kcal metabolizable energy; 30% protein, %ME. (1.3% calcium,
   1.1% phosphorus, 0.5% potassium, 0.45% sodium, 0.15% magnesium,
   calculated on a dry matter basis)
  Cats at risk of FUS
   Replace bone meal with 3 g (2 tsp) calcium carbonate or 1/2 tsp ground
   limestone (NOT dolomite, which is rich in Mg). This lowers calcium
   from 1.3% to 0.7%, phosphorus from 1.1 to 0.3%, magnesium from 0.15%
   to 0.08%. Calcium carbonate or limestone does not blend well; you may
   prefer to give this in pill or capsule form. Salt can be increased to
   1 tsp to promote water intake, and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp ammonium chloride
   can be added as a urinary acidifier.
  Kidney disease patients
   Substitute 40-50% fat hamburger (50-60% lean) for regular hamburger to
   lower protein content to 13%. For a protein content of 11%, substitute
   1 medium-large egg (55g) and 1 Tbsp chicken fat (15 g) for meat.
   Animals in renal failure are anorexic, and maintaining adequate
   calorie intake may be one of the most important things in their
  Heart failure
   Without salt, the "regular recipe" has 0.05% sodium (compares to 0.03%
   in special canned "heart diets" and 0.05% in the dry form). These
   levels are suitable for animals in end-stage heart failure; for 1st
   and 2nd stage chronic heart failure, 0.25% sodium is recommended (use
   1/4 tsp salt in the basic recipe instead of 1/2 tsp). Or use 1/2 tsp
   "lite salt" (50-50 sodium chloride and potassium chloride) to reduce
   sodium to 0.25% and raise potassium from 0.5% to 0.7%. This may be
   desirable if a potassium-robbing diuretic is being used, and
   especially if digitalis is also prescribed, since digitalis is more
   toxic in animals low in potassium. If salt is entirely left out of the
   diet, 1/4 tsp potassium chloride may be included to keep the animal
   from becoming potassium deficient.
  Low fat diet
   For non-specific gastrointestinal problems, malabsorption, osmotic
   diarrhea, pancreatitis, hepatic lipidosis, lymphangiectasis, and
   portocaval shunts.
   To reduce fat levels, substitute one of the following for the 70 g
   (2.5 oz)of 80% lean hamburger:
        100 g (3.5 oz) 90% lean meat        10% fat
        120 g (4.3 oz) egg                  12% fat
        180 g (6.3 oz) heart                 4% fat
        230 g (8.2 oz) cottage cheese        1% fat
        400 g (14.4 oz) egg white, COOKED    0% fat

   Substitute 1 tsp safflower oil for 2 tsp corn oil. In extreme cases,
   reduce safflower oil to 1/2 tsp., or substitute MCT (medium chain
  Low fat, high fiber diet
   For geriatric animals, chronic enteritis or pancreatitis.
     * 1/2 c dry white rice
     * 1/3 c 90% lean hamburger
     * 1/3 c wheat bran
     * 2 Tbsp beef liver
     * 1 Tbsp bone meal
     * 2 tsp corn oil
     * 1/2 tsp iodized salt
   (this diet has only 700 calories, compared to 800 for the basal diet).
   If the bran is too irritating to the intestines, replace all or part
   of the bran with alpha cellulose (e.g. Solka Floc, from Brown & Co,
   Berlin, New Hampshire, USA). This will greatly decrease the available
   calories also.
  Reducing diet
     * 1/3 c dry white rice
     * 1/3 c 90% lean hamburger
     * 2/3 c wheat bran
     * 2 Tbsp beef liver
     * 1 Tbsp bone meal
     * 2 tsp corn oil
     * 1/2 tsp iodized salt
   This diet has only 600 cal compared to 800 calories of the basal diet.
  Hypoallergenic diet
   Substitute hamburger, ground mutton or lamb, pork, turkey, chicken, or
   fish for the meat that had been normally consumed. Substitute chicken
   or turkey liver for beef liver.
  Low purine diet
   Substitute a comprehensive trace mineral and vitamin tablet that
   contains vitamin B-12 for liver in base diet. Replace meat with 1 or 2
   eggs blended in 1/4 to 1/2 c cows milk. Carrots or tomatoes can be
   blended in. This may reduce protein content, but increase acceptance.
   Do not add other vegetables.
   Kay's comments:
   I tried the recipes above on my 6 cats (not picky eaters!) They
   eagerly accepted the basic diet, but were not especially fond of the
   reducing diet... adding a tsp of instant minced onion seemed to
   improve the acceptance, as did a little catnip mixed in.
   Most cats should do well with the basic diet. If you make major
   changes (such as the low fat or reducing versions), you may also want
   to make up some basic diet and gradually shift the cat from basic to
   special diet.
Cat Owner Allergies

   In general, keep the cats out of the bedroom. If cats can be trained
   to keep off the furniture, that also helps. Substances like Allerpet C
   can be used on cat's fur to dissolve some of the dander and protein
   from the saliva that people are allergic to. Long haired cats have
   more area to deposit their saliva on and they have to be brushed
   (putting more dander in the air), so short haired cats are better for
   people with allergies. Clean and vacuum often; groom and brush the cat
   (outside if possible) often so its hair-shedding around the house is
   minimized; and bathe the cat regularly.
   Some people are simply allergic to new cats. This kind of allergy
   means that it will diminish with repeated exposure. Thus you will not
   be allergic to cats that you are exposed to regularly; and actually
   become allergic to your own cat if you're away from it for some time.
   Washing hands frequently helps with this type of allergy.
   Other people are allergic to the saliva on the cat's fur. A remedy for
   this is to bathe the cat once a month. No soap is needed, merely soak
   the cat thoroughly. Done on a monthly basis, it seems to keep the
   saliva levels down to a tolerable level. This was reported in a
   scientific journal somewhere; Cat Fancy covered it a few years ago.
   [exact reference?]
   You may be allergic to cat hair, in which case you may want to get one
   of the breeds of cats with short, little, or no hair. There is a
   hairless cat, the Sphynx, and there are breeds of cat which are
   entirely lacking in the kind of hair (cats have four kinds of hair)
   most people are allergic to. These are the Cornish Rex or Devon Rex
   breeds, and their fur is short and curly.
   You could go to an allergy specialist and get shots to help you with
   specific allergies. This can be expensive, but worth it, especially if
   you have other allergies as well. They'll test you for the things
   you're allergic to, and then give you periodic shots to help you
   develop an appropriate immunity to them. Be sure to find a specialist
   familiar with cat allergies: many will simply recommend you get rid of
   pets. Also, don't expect miracles. They can do a lot for you to reduce
   your allergies, but sometimes they can't track down a particular one,
   and sometimes it takes more than "just shots" to deal with an allergy.
   The magazine New Woman (October 1992) has an interesting article about
   a cat-allergy vaccine. Catvax is being developed by the Immulogic
   Pharmaceutical Corporation (I.P.C.) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and
   is now being tested on humans at Johns Hopkins University. Tests on
   animals indicate that Catvax is different from traditional cat-allergy
   shots in two ways. First, unlike conventional allergy therapy, which
   involves biweekly or weekly injections for up to a year, the vaccine
   may be able to completely prevent allergic reactions after just a few
   injections. Second, studies suggest that the vaccine will not produce
   allergic side effects, such as asthma, that traditional shots often
   do. I.P.C. hopes to complete its human studies and have the vaccine on
   the market by 1996 or 1997.
   There is an informative article "When Humans Have Allergies: Ways to
   Tolerate Cat Allergies," in Cats Magazine, April 1992. The August 1992
   issue of Cat Fancy contains an informative article; the September 1992
   issue has a survey of people's experiences with allergies and what
   worked for them.
Toxoplasmosis (when you are pregnant and own a cat)

   Toxoplasmosis is a disease that can be picked up by handling
   contaminated raw meat, or the feces produced after ingestion of such
   meat. It takes between 36 and 48 hours for the eggs shed in stools to
   reach the infective stage, so if you remove stools from the litter box
   every day, the chances are slim that you could contract toxoplasmosis.
   (Nomenclature: Toxoplasma gondii is the organism, toxoplasmosis the
   disease, and Toxoplasma is a protozoan.)
   In theory, you can catch it by cleaning the litter box or by working
   in a garden used as a litter box. Most commonly, people catch it by
   handling raw meat or eating undercooked meat. Many cat-exposed people
   have had toxoplasmosis; the symptoms are similar to a mild cold.
   The problem occurs when pregnant women contract toxoplasmosis. This
   will severely damage the fetus. Simple precautions will prevent this
   problem; unfortunately many doctors still recommend getting rid of
   cats when the woman is pregnant. A good idea is to get tested for
   toxoplasmosis *before* you get pregnant; once you've had it, you will
   not get it again.
   You should note that there has yet to be a proven case of human
   toxoplasmosis contracted from a cat -- the most common sources of
   toxoplasmosis are the eating or preparing of contaminated raw meat.
   To prevent human contraction of toxoplasmosis:
    1. Cook any meat for you or your cat thoroughly.
    2. Use care when handling raw meat.
    3. Wear household gloves when handling litter.
    4. Use disinfectant to clean the litter pan and surrounding area.
    5. Change the cat litter often.
    6. Keep children's sandpits covered when not in use.
    7. Wear gardening gloves when working in the garden.
   To be on the safe side, the litterbox and meat-chopping chores should
   go to someone else if you're pregnant.
   An article in Cats Magazine (January, 1994) mentions toxo. To quote:
     ...transmission of the disease between cats and humans is highly
     unlikely. In fact, Karen D. Brooks, DVM, states that 'although the
     possibility of transmission from cats to humans exists, there has
     never been a documented case of prenatal toxoplasma infection in a
     human that was caused by a cat' (Veterinary Technician, September,
     1992). Experts believe the real culprits of toxoplasmosis
     transmission are probably contaminated soil and infected meat.
     The only way cats can transmit toxoplasmosis is through their
     feces, so simply having another family member change the litter box
     or wearing gloves and washing thoroughly afterward eliminates the
     risk. A pregnant woman should also wear gloves when gardening to
     avoid any contact with feces that may have been buried by outdoor
     cats. If other children in the family have a sandbox, it should be
     covered to prevent cats from using it as a litter box. It must be
     stressed that it is not possible to contract toxoplasmosis by
     petting, being licked by, or otherwise handling a cat.
   If you have had toxoplasmosis in the past, you can't get it again. You
   can be tested to determine if you already have the antibodies,
   indicating that you have had the disease in the past and would not
   contract it again. Even if you do carry the antibodies, it would be
   wise to take all the same precautions, but that simple test could help
   ease your mind about the risk.
   Re: toxoplasmosis: This is a short summary from the chapter on
   zoonoses (animal/human shared diseases) by Gary D. Nosworthy (pp.
   577-582) in Nosworthy, G D (ed.) 1993. Feline Practice. JB Lippincott,
   Philadephia. ISBN 0 397 51204 X
   Approximately 80% of the cats in the US show evidence of prior
   infection with Toxoplasma gondii, the causative organism. However,
   cats are able to release the stage (oocyst) that can infect humans
   only once during the cat's lifetime, and then, only for a maximum of
   two weeks. Oocysts remain infective for about 5 days maximum.
   About 1/3 of the US population has been infected with T. gondii; once
   you are infected, you are immune. The only time that T. gondii causes
   more of a problem than a mild flu-ish illness is if you are
   immunosuppressed (AIDS, organ transplant recipient, etc.) or you
   become infected while you are pregnant. About 20-50% of the fetuses
   exposed to their mother's new T. gondii infection will become
   infected. Current US estimates of infection are that 1 of 1000 babies
   (0.1%) are infected. If you have a previous infection with T. gondii,
   you can handle infected materials with impunity during pregnancy...
   you and your baby are protected by your antibodies.
   Cats are probably not the largest source of infection of T. gondii in
   the US: Having a pet cat, direct contact with cats around the house,
   working in a vet hospital do not increase the likelihood of
   contracting toxoplasmosis.
   (ref: Reif, JS. 1980. Toxoplasmosis: Assessment of the role of cats in
       human infection. Compend. Contin. Educ. Pract. Vet. 2:810; Ganley,
       JP, Comstock, GW, 1980. Association of cats and toxoplasmosis, Am.
       J. Epidemiol. 111:238)
   The best way to prevent the problems of toxoplasmosis contracted
   during pregnancy may be to contract it BEFORE pregnancy... The most
   common mode of transmission in the US is contact with uncooked or
   undercooked meat, esp. pork.
   (ref: Jones, TC. 1983. Toxoplasmosis , p 438. IN Kay, D, Rose, LF,
       (eds.) Fundamentals of Internal Medicine. CV Mosby, St. Louis.)
   Other modes of transmission in the US (much rarer) include
   transfusions of blood cells or platelets, or organ transplants.
   There is also an experimental vaccine for T. gondii in cats. It is not
   commercially available.
   Vets and physicians can have blood samples tested for T. gondii
   antibodies. T. gondii antibodies during pregnancy do not mean that the
   woman has just been infected... they probably reflect an old
   infection. Only rising antibody titers during pregnancy are a cause
   for concern.
   Good cooking and handwashing practices will reduce the likelihood of
   infection of a previously uninfected pregnant woman to nearly nil.
    Miscellaneous Information FAQ


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