Sea Otters, California, and Toxoplasma gondii - Need Info

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Sea Otters, California, and Toxoplasma gondii - Need Info

Postby birdlady77 » Tue Oct 10, 2006 7:31 am

I got received an email about how on Sept. 18 Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a law that requires all cat litter sold in California to carry a warning label advising cat owners not to dump their pet’s droppings into toilets or storm drains. Apparently, cat waste is a concern because Toxoplasma gondii, a protozoan parasite shed only in the feces of cats, caused 16% of southern sea otter deaths that were evaluated from 1998 to 2001.

Anyway, my question is: Does the cleaning solution in the Catgenie kill this parasite in the poop? I'm a big believer in 'first, do no harm." While I love the Catgenie, I certainly don't want do be harming wildlife. Even though I live on the East Coast and no where near sea otters, I do have river otters in my area, as well as other wildlife that could be impacted.

Does anyone have any information on this?
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Postby kcarruyo » Tue Oct 10, 2006 2:29 pm

I can't imagine the parasites in cat feces being any worse for the environment than other animals. Also, I would have thought the waste from the sewer systems, etc. gets processed and treated.

The waste from the cat genie being flushed can't be worse than the dirty litter from conventional cat boxes being dumped in landfills, or wherever else. The rainwater runnoff from that would carry bacteria too.

Check out this CDC page on Toxoplasmosis:

According to the above, humans as well as infected raw meat could contribute as much as the cats.

I may be wrong in this, but this is just what I think.
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Re: Sea Otters, California, and Toxoplasma gondii - Need In

Postby CatGenie » Wed Oct 11, 2006 3:33 pm

Sea Otters and Your Cat

First of all, cats kept indoors that do not hunt prey or are not fed raw meat are not likely to be infected with Toxoplasma.

How are Otters Becoming Infected?

“University of California at Davis professor Patricia Conrad and her doctoral student Melissa Miller, both in the School of Veterinary Medicine, have shown that otters near heavy freshwater flows are three times more likely to have been infected by Toxoplasma gondii than otters from areas where runoff is light.”2

This is True. In fact, Dr. Patricia Conrad is the lead scientist on this project and known worldwide for her knowledge on this subject and is highly respected in her field. The following is a brief outline of what her teams research has uncovered thus far:

“The scientists’ best guess is that parasite eggs in cat droppings are being washed by sprinklers and rains into coastal-bound storm drains and creeks.“2

What is left out of the newspaper articles but not from the research is that the primary culprit here appears to be wild cats (non-domestic), outdoor domestic cats and feral cats (remember the odds of an indoor cat eating commercial cat food getting Toxoplasmosa is VERY remote). Only members of cat family, including bobcats and mountain lions, shed parasite oocysts or “eggs” into soil. Can be infected often, but usually sheds parasite eggs – millions of them – only once, 7-14 days after infection. (This cat-parasite link is the reason pregnant women are advised against cleaning cat-litter boxes).

“In areas where freshwater flows abundantly from land to ocean -- near streams and rivers -- sea otters' risk of infection is 2.9 times higher than along other shore areas. Mussels -- a favorite otter food -- can concentrate Toxoplasma parasites in their tissues.”1

This point makes it pretty clear that the problem is coming from land animals but the more in depth information is that treated sewage effluent that dumped into the ocean is NOT along the shoreline. In fact Dr Conrad and her team have tested the water near these outlets and have not found any real concentration of the parasites and, also, have not found any otters in the area of the dump tube to be infected. It all tends to be along coastal estuary’s and anywhere that freshwater and storm drains etc. (which are not treated) dump into the water along the shore.

In fact, the U.S. Environmental Agency recommends that pet waste be either flushed or bagged up and put in the trash (where local regulations allow) rather than be allowed to wash off the land. (More information on the impact of pet waste on the environment is at:


1: CDC Center For Disease Control ... t_infected
2: and abstracts from the organization.

According to the Center For Disease Control:
Protect Your Cat from Toxoplasmosis
• Feed your cat only commercial dry or canned food.
• Never feed your cats raw meat.
• Keep indoor cats indoors.
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Thank you for the information.

Postby birdlady77 » Wed Oct 11, 2006 9:52 pm

Thank you Catgenie for the information on Toxoplasma gondii. The websites you provided are very clear and provide me with the knowledge I needed to make an educated decision. I appreciate your thoroughness and objectivity.
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