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Infertility

Infertility from cats?

12/08/2009

Question:

My mother fusses at my younger sister for sleeping in the same bed as the cat. I would like to know if you can become infertile when you sleep with a cat. I feel that this is a very awkward question but I would like to set things straight. Is there any evidence?

Answer:

There is no evidence that contact with cats can lead to infertility. This rumor is probably based on the fact that humans can catch a disease called "toxoplasmosis" from cats that are allowed to roam outside the house. Toxoplasmosis causes flu-like symptoms in humans. If a woman gets toxoplasmosis during pregnancy, she can pass it on to her unborn child. The child can be born with birth defects or develop learning, visual, and hearing disabilities later in life. For this reason, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid changing cat litter if possible. If a pregnant woman must change cat litter, she should wear gloves and wash her hands thoroughly afterward. In addition, she should keep her cat inside, and avoid handling (or sleeping with) any cat that spends time outside.

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Response by:

William W Hurd, MD William W Hurd, MD
Professor of Reproductive Biology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University