Getting rid of cats ' to be safe'
We've been getting a few emails of late again from people who have been told to get rid of their cats for various reasons. For example, the cat owner gets pregnant and she is told to get rid of the cat because of toxoplasmosis. She isn't told for example, that the chances of getting it from a cat are so rare that the British Medical Journal (an article I can send you if you are interested) said it was not a risk factor. She isn't told cats secrete it for only a short period of time - hence the low chances of getting it from a cat. She isn't told that as a precaution, she should just get someone else in the family to clean the sandtray and to wash her hands before eating. She isn't told that her chances of getting it are highest from handling raw meat or pork. She isn't even tested to check if she already had toxoplamosis antibodies because of the high number of people who already have had it at some point in their lives!
Why? Often because in the cases who write to us, the doctor says to get rid of the cat because it is just 'safer'. The same happens with people who have allergies and asthma. Again, very few of the people who write in were ever tested to see if they were indeed allergic to cats.
Now I am sure that there are very responsible doctors out there are testing their patients and not giving alarmist advice. They are probably the vast majority and hence we never hear from their patients. It disturbs me however that there are still doctors who give advice to get rid of cats to be safe. It's bad for two reasons - one, the cat obviously is given away, and two, in cases of the allergy sufferer for example, the cause of the allergy may not be pinpointed, causing the person to still suffer from the same symptoms.
In fact, studies have shown that (as long as the mother is not asthmatic) it is a good idea to have some animals in the house to prevent your child from getting allergic.
Some people will of course claim that parents cannot be too careful - and of course the health of the child is paramount but it should be tempered by common sense. My mother tried for six years to conceive me and she was very careful during her pregnancy - the one thing she didn't do though (and which she wasn't advised to do even all those years ago) was to give up her cats. I grew up with them and have never been allergic to animals - though I am to other things like dust.