Feline Toxoplasmosis and human babies – blasting the lies, myths, and unfounded fears

Don’t you just cringe when you hear “I’m pregnant and my doctor told me to get rid of my cats to protect my baby’s brain.” Haven’t you wondered if the fear of brain damage from exposure to toxoplasmosis was a bunch of hooey from doctors who feel they need to dish out caution to nervous expectant mothers to make themselves look smart? Us too! We found some statistics that shoot that antiquated theory out of the sky and asked our Feline Contributing Editor At Large, Sir Isaac Newton, to chime in with the facts and figures to spill the beans on this situation. Spoiler alert: the studies were seriously flawed, babies are safe!

Speaking of babies – in a few weeks Auntie Cat Faerie will be visiting the ASPCA in New York City to see, in particular, their stellar Kitten Rehab. It’s where abandoned kittens, kitten literally found on the streets, hundreds of them per year, are bottle fed and taught proper toilet habits by loving and caring saintly humans. They are willing to keep these kitten’s cute baby butts nice and clean while they grow and learn to do it themselves. Stay tuned for the story!


Newton’s Purrspective – Toxoplasmosis

Cats have not always been popular house pets. Perhaps you’ve heard the old wives’ tale that cats smother babies or suck the air out of their lungs. Today few believe in this witchery. It is far more likely that cats in a baby’s crib are seeking warmth or are attracted to the scent of milk. However, some doctors still tell expectant mothers that they should get rid of their beloved pets as a health precaution. The fear today is not focused on a devilish feline behavior, but on a single celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii (the cause of Toxoplasmosis) carried by cats.




Isaac Newton

But cats are not alone. Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic diseases, affecting nearly all warm blooded animals, including humans. The CDC estimates that as many as 60 million Americans carry this parasite, but few show signs of clinical disease. A healthy immune system is able to prevent illness due to the presence of Toxoplasma.

Most people who are infected are unaware. Some may have flu like symptoms such as swollen lymph glands accompanied by muscle aches. Severe Toxoplasmosis (usually found only in people with immune deficiency) can cause damage to the eyes or brain. Treatment is available and is patient specific.
https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/faqs.html

Early in the 1950’s scientists started looking at the potential relationship between Toxoplasmosis and psychotic symptoms such as those seen in schizophrenia. They hypothesized that owning a cat could increase the risk of mental disorders. We now know that the early studies were flawed. Controls were inadequate and alternate explanations were not considered. Although in rare cases Toxoplasmosis can damage the brain, current investigations reveal no higher risk of psychosis for those who share their homes with cats. http://www.livescience.com/57978-cats-psychosis.html

Cats are singled out because they are the only definitive hosts for Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite completes its life cycle inside a cat’s intestines and eggs are shed in the feces for up to two weeks. Most cats will not show symptoms unless their immune system is compromised due to age or diseases such as Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Cats are not routinely tested for Toxoplasmosis and the only prevention is to avoid ingesting the parasite. http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_toxo.cfm

Toxoplasma must be ingested or transferred directly. It cannot be absorbed through intact skin or inhaled. According to the CDC there are a number of ways for this to occur in humans.

  • Eating undercooked meat (especially pork, lamb, and venison) contaminated with Toxoplasma.
  • Not thoroughly washing hands after contact with infected meat and accidentally ingesting the parasite.
  • Eating food contaminated by utensils, etc. have been in contact with raw, contaminated meat.
  • Drinking water contaminated with Toxoplasma.
  • Accidental ingestion due to not thoroughly washing hands after:
    • cleaning a litter box used by a cat that has shed Toxoplasma
    • gardening without wearing gloves
  • Eating unwashed garden fruits or vegetables
  • Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/faqs.html

Pregnant women, or people with weak immune systems need not worry that they will be forced to part with their beloved cats. Indoor only cats pose a smaller risk since they are less likely to come in contact with Toxoplasma. However, use common sense and avoid cleaning the litter box or, if you must, wear gloves. Always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

There is actually a benefit to keeping Kitty when you are pregnant. Cats can improve health in young children. The chief of the allergic mechanisms section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Marshall Plaut, MD says “high pet exposure early in life appears to protect against not only pet allergy but also other types of common allergies, such as allergy to dust mites, ragweed, and grass.” http://mentalfloss.com/article/51154/10-scientific-benefits-being-cat-owner

 
 
 
 

How to De-Skunk a Cat (or You) with Anti Icky Poo

Recently a customer wrote to ask if Anti Icky Poo would remove skunk musk from her cat’s fur. The cat probably wasn’t actually sprayed by the skunk, instead kitty probably rubbed up against a plant or bush that the skunk sprayed during a mating ritual to mark territory (sound familiar?) or to appear sexy. We at Cat Faeries adore skunks, in particular we love Skunkie who lives below ground in our front garden! And as you might expect every night we leave food and water for our gorgeous fluffy friend – did you know they are fond of cat food? Skunks are not particularly fussy eaters (cats, take note and learn from this!) however our dear Skunkie does not like rice but enjoys everything else we set out. We often see Skunkie and an outside cat sitting near each other in complete harmony. More on that below.

Since we are FOS (friends of skunks) we wanted to give our customer and you the best answer and solutions to this smelly problem.

But before we tell you how to de-skunk cat fur, dog fur, or you and you clothes let us tell you a few things about skunks. They are shy and very passive, and like cats, they are curious. They don’t seek to spray anyone and only do so when provoked or frightened – this is truly a last resort and if they fear they might be killed. They are solitary animals who would prefer peacefully keeping your garden free of small rodents, and harmful insects, worms and grub worms which might be in your soil eating away your greens and vegetables. Skunks are a healthy garden’s friend who come out to visit and hunt at dawn and dusk. If you are lucky you might see a mama skunk with babies in Spring. After the baby skunks are grown they leave their mother to strike out on their own, again, as solitary animals. Baby skunks are called kits… baby cats are called kittens… the similarities continue!

So far it seems that skunks and cats are compatible, or least they can co-exist well. We are told that skunks and outside cats will share a food bowl! We’ve observed Skunkie and a lovely pastel tortoiseshell cat sitting about 7 feet apart in the evening. Here’s a video of a cat and skunk caught on surveillance camera with infra-red. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFz7Na_G9Pw

Skunks are most active at dusk and dawn. Is it coincidence that your cat wants to eat at dusk and dawn too and run around like a crazy person?

How do you know if you are about to be “skunked?” Simultaneously the skunk’s back will be towards you and his head turned looking over his shoulder so he can see you (for good aim!) You might see red anal scent glands depending upon how light it is. With excellent aim and propulsion of up to 10 feet – BAM! – you’ve been skunked!

Here is how to de-skunk using Anti Icky Poo:

1) DO NOT PRE RINSE THE CAT! This spreads the oily skunk spray. Tomato juice will not work… you’ll have a cat that smells of tomatoes and skunk spray

2) Soak a large rag with Anti Icky Poo so that it’s very wet. Wipe down the cat (or dog) and allow to dry. Of you could take the cat’s brush which you’ve soaked in Anti Icky Poo then brush it through the fur. With either method you’ll re-apply in 2 hours. This should take care of it, if not, apply a third time. Rinse with another water soaked rag or a fresh brush to finish the treatment. Discard the rags and brushes. Please only use the unscented version as the fragrance can be irritating to skin, lungs, and eyes.

3) If it’s you who got skunked, soak your clothes in the washing machine with ½ cup of Anti Icky Poo and cold or warm water for a few hours or overnight. After you soak and rinse, wash the clothes with clothe soap and ¼ cup more of Anti Icky Poo. You could even wash your hair with Anti Icky Poo if you wish.

Here you can see a mama skunk and her adorable progeny approaching a man who stopped his bicycle to watch and video them. He’s perfectly respectful and quiet therefore there is no spraying of skunk musk proving that skunks would rather not spray. Also, aren’t their squeaks beyond cute? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WINFNvPjbG4

 
 
 

Another great use for Anti Icky Poo! Removing Ring Around the Collar!

Who’s old enough to remember those catchy commercials from the 1970’s? And who of us teased co-workers, parents, teachers, and class mates for their rings around their collars? And who is plagued with ring around the collar today? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3N_skYSGoY

Madam Cat Faerie for one! She’s one of those unfortunate people who makes a vivid ring on her collars even minutes after putting one on and on a stone-cold day no less! The oils of the ring become one with the fabric which nothing seems to remove completely – always remaining are streaks of yellow or traces. Madam Cat Faerie is also not willing to use toxic methods to clean up anything.

Recently I bought a divine long soft cotton button down white shirt and wore it Saturday. And of course it grew quite a ring despite having exfoliated my neck to a pink glow earlier! I would never use a potentially toxic cleaning agent like bleach (which doesn’t work anyway) so the bright idea of a soak in Anti Icky Poo was worth an experiment. We’ve told you that Anti Icky Poo removes oils from clothing (found this out when I spilled olive oil on a cotton dress). Mr. Cat Faerie, a car hobbyist, does similar soaks to remove auto grease from his clothes.

How to do it: Put ½ cup of unscented Anti Icky Poo in a tub with another ½ cup of cold or cool water. Place the soiled shirt with the collar going into the soaking solution first, then allow the rest of the garment to rest on top – all of it will get a nice stain removing soak. The first 24 hours removed most of it, but not enough, so the soaking went for 32 hours. SUCCESS! Every speck of yellow was gone baby gone! The shirt went into the machine for a quick wash in Seventh Generation – Free and Clear liquid clothes soap to remove the Anti Icky Poo. After drying overnight I’ll fearlessly wear that shirt over and over!

 
 

Spring Cleaning Tips Using Anti Icky Poo

Spring makes us think about deep cleaning and out with the old! Well maybe not out with the old, but we can certainly bring new life to many things by freshening with Anti Icky Poo, the urine cleaner we recommend because it actually works! Its enzymes literally eat the urine particles. (Anti Icky Poo’s enzymes work on any organic mess. We use it for many things and we’ve put some of our Anti Icky Poo cleaning tips below.)

Here are some creative Spring Cleaning methods you can use Anti Icky Poo for:


Dump the litter in the litter boxes, pour in ¼ to ½ cup of Anti Icky Poo and enough cool water to cover the bottom. Let the enzymes and specially bred bacteria gobble up the icky crud at the bottom of the box and in its corners. Spray Anti Icky Poo on the sides of the box and the floor beneath it. You might also spray some on the walls around the litter box to remove dust and powders and any “back splash.” Your cats will be ecstatic with everything so sparkling clean.


If you have soiled gym clothes, play or work clothes that you thought might be past the point of no return, Anti Icky Poo renews their life by getting the funky stains and odors out. Put ¼ to 1/2 cup of Anti Icky Poo in a washing machine half way full of cold water (remember to test for color safety in a small unseen spot first). For small pieces (like a dress) you might want to soak overnight in a tub. Soaking your clothes for 12 hours or overnight will work miracles!


Recently Madam Cat Faerie spilled melted butter and pan drippings all down a fragile cotton dress. There were countless spots and the oils saturated the dress to the point where she thought it was hopeless. Soaking it in a tub over night with Anti Icky Poo and enough water to spread the cleaner enough to penetrate the fibers took every last trace of it out. Not one brown or yellow spot can be found!


Even if your cat has never peed on a pillow our evening sweat and body odors can make a pillow not so pleasant. First thing in a morning when you’ll be home all day remove and wash the pillow case. Hang up the pillow on a clothes rack or line with clothes pins. Give the pillow a light misting of Anti Icky Poo on all sides. Repeat this every hour for about 6 hours. Then allow to dry.


You can also do this with your mattress and sofa cushions. Remove the mattress and cushions, then tilt them against a wall. Spray it on all sides lightly once an hour for 6 hours. Then allow it to dry before replacing it to the bed.


Is the carpet feeling and smelling a bit funky? Anti Icky Poo works great in a carpet cleaning machine (which you can rent if you don’t own one). You can also give the give your rugs a light misting, hourly, over the course of a few hours.


Take a fresh quart of Anti Icky Poo and go to every room with a drain. Pour ¼ to ½ cup down each drain. Let it be for at least one hour. The enzymes are going to eat up the soap scum and grease! Chomp Chomp! It can’t eat through hair, but the other crud will be gone and that will save you oodles of money on plumbers! We don’t even remember the last time we needed to call in a plumber because of Anti Icky Poo’s safe, nontoxic, non-corrosive, and totally natural drain cleaning abilities!

 
 

Your cat’s water bowl – do you know about biofilm?

Have you ever rubbed your fingers on the inside of your cat’s water bowl and felt a bit of goo or slime on the sides? What you are feeling is called biofilm.

Biofilm provides a cozy environment for organisms including E. coli, listeria, and legionella. When biofilm is not removed on a daily basis biofilm acts as an attractant for all kinds of bacteria and provides a nice comfy home for them to breed and multiply, and cause weakened immunity and disease. Think of biofilm as a living entity waiting to wreak havoc.

Keep biofilm out of your cat’s water and food bowls – wash them daily.

For water bowls:

Dump the left over water into a bucket for your garden along with other reusable water from the kitchen. Wash the bowl with hot water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Rinse and refill with filtered water.

For food bowls:

Even if you feed your cat dry crunchies don’t keep refilling the bowl. You must use a fresh clean bowl for each meal time because the oils from the food and saliva mix together to create a particularly nasty bio film and the oils go rancid (rancid oil is a cancer cell’s friend – cancer feeds on rancid oil and sugars). Keep a rotation of cat food bowls handy so that the time spent preparing their food is shortened for you. Soiled bowls go in the dishwasher or are washed by hand in hot soapy water.

We have 4 cats and we have 12 Pyrex bowls which we rotate at each meal. They are either washed by hand or go in the dishwasher at night.

The bowls we recommend for both food and water – clear Pyrex glass which allows you to see food particles, and they are very easy to clean. We love that they are dishwasher safe. You do not need to worry about the glass being toxic because Pyrex is made in the US.

Does your cat (or you!) have a chronic infection? Is your cat prone to bladder infection, urinary tract infections, ear infections, and other microbial / bacterial conditions? Biofilm in the water and food bowl could be the cause. By simply washing thoroughly you’ll save money on vet bills and you’ll keep your cat healthy for a long happy life with you.

More reading about biofilm:

A good definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofilm

About biofilm and infections: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23635385

Keeping your home biofilm free (as much as possible given that few of us are perfect little housekeepers!)

Biofilm also clings to our walls and items in our homes. Before it sounds like we are paranoid neat-freaks (which we are not, Madam Cat Faerie did not get the Martha Stewart gene) let us say that it’s good to be exposed to a certain amount of dirt and other crud. It’s good for the immunity and microbiome of any species. But we don’t’ want to be living in an environment that compromises anyone’s health.

One area of the house where we all should be concerned about is where the litter boxes are. That’s why we like keeping litter boxes in one area to create a cat-friendly litter box latrine area. The powders and dusts from cat litter can cling to the walls and other surfaces around the litter boxes. It’s important to wash down those walls. How often? If there are unhealthy people and animals in your home: weekly. Otherwise every 2 to 4 weeks will help tremendously.

Hot water and a washable terrycloth rag work wonders! They are free of cost and non-toxic.

Anti Icky Poo Spring Cleaning Tips!

Here are some creative Spring Cleaning methods you can use Anti Icky Poo for:


Dump the litter in the litter boxes, pour in ¼ to ½ cup of Anti Icky Poo and enough cool water to cover the bottom. Let the enzymes and specially bred bacteria gobble up the icky crud at the bottom of the box and in its corners. Spray Anti Icky Poo on the sides of the box and the floor beneath it. You might also spray some on the walls around the litter box to remove dust and powders and any “back splash.” Your cats will be ecstatic with everything so sparkling clean.


If you have soiled gym clothes, play or work clothes that you thought might be past the point of no return, Anti Icky Poo renews their life by getting the funky stains and odors out. Put ¼ to 1/2 cup of Anti Icky Poo in a washing machine half way full of cold water (remember to test for color safety in a small unseen spot first). For small pieces (like a dress) you might want to soak overnight in a tub. Soaking your clothes for 12 hours or overnight will work miracles!


Recently Madam Cat Faerie spilled melted butter and pan drippings all down a fragile cotton dress. There were countless spots and the oils saturated the dress to the point where she thought it was hopeless. Soaking it in a tub over night with Anti Icky Poo and enough water to spread the cleaner enough to penetrate the fibers took every last trace of it out. Not one brown or yellow spot can be found!


Even if your cat has never peed on a pillow our evening sweat and body odors can make a pillow not so pleasant. First thing in a morning when you’ll be home all day remove and wash the pillow case. Hang up the pillow on a clothes rack or line with clothes pins. Give the pillow a light misting of Anti Icky Poo on all sides. Repeat this every hour for about 6 hours. Then allow to dry.


You can also do this with your mattress and sofa cushions. Remove the mattress and cushions, then tilt them against a wall. Spray it on all sides lightly once an hour for 6 hours. Then allow it to dry before replacing it to the bed.


Is the carpet feeling and smelling a bit funky? Anti Icky Poo works great in a carpet cleaning machine (which you can rent if you don’t own one). You can also give the give your rugs a light misting, hourly, over the course of a few hours.


Take a fresh quart of Anti Icky Poo and go to every room with a drain. Pour ¼ to ½ cup down each drain. Let it be for at least one hour. The enzymes are going to eat up the soap scum and grease! Chomp Chomp! It can’t eat through hair, but the other crud will be gone and that will save you oodles of money on plumbers! We don’t even remember the last time we needed to call in a plumber because of Anti Icky Poo’s safe, nontoxic, non-corrosive, and totally natural drain cleaning abilities!