We had a cat when I was born, a fluffy Persian that I can’t remember but my mother says I absolutely loved. He was the first of a long line – I have adored cats for as long as I have been alive. Next was a black street cat, a hunter who brought home a grown rabbit once. A red tabby, who would track down rats at our farm. Princess, who I adopted from a shelter because she was the most scared one looking there and she was going to be put down that day.
I wanted to be a vet as a child. Our local vet let me watch surgeries and I was fascinated. I helped out in shelters, I fed the cats and played with them, I cleaned off their babies and washed out their infected eyes.
There were a lot of strays in the small town I grew up in as well, roaming the fields, whole gangs of them, and I eagerly attempted to befriend them all.
As I grew up, I never did become a vet, but my love for cats never died.
I raised several motherless kittens, feeding them milk every few hours, rubbing their tiny bellies to make them poop. I cuddled and petted, and napped with them hiding in my hair.
At eighteen, I went to university, and bought my very first cat that was just my own. Morgan, the beautiful grey oriental with the chronic illness, pirate teeth, and a heart of gold. Now I have Maya, black and stern and strong and fond of having her sides slapped. And red Sari, a little ball of energy and danger, and also the biggest cuddler I have ever had.
Cats are a part of me, and I will never live without one.
So if there is one thing I was entirely certain that I would have come into contact with in my thirty-odd years on this planet it was a disease carried by cats. I was SURE I would have developed immunity.
Through some entirely bizarre reason, around 50% of the population in Europe is infected with Toxoplasmosis but it managed to skip me!
Under usual circumstances it’s not a problem if you are infected, it’s only dangerous to catch the infection if you’re pregnant – it could lead to serious birth defects.
This means that when I get pregnant, I will need to stay away from raw meat, gardening, unwashed vegetables, and… cats. Or more specifically, their faeces.
Luckily my indoor cats are very unlikely to get infected out of the blue. Considering I have scooped litter boxes daily for the last two decades, it seems ridiculous that I would catch it now when I haven’t for so long.
I’m deeply surprised, but my cats and I will be fine. …maybe I’ll lay off petting strays for just a bit though ;)