Here's all you ever wanted to know about the parasite in cat poop.
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March of Dimes

Americans love cats.

And what’s not to love? They’re cute, playful, and goofy. Plus they are the darlings of the internet. What would any of us even do if cat videos didn’t exist on the internet?

Who doesn't love shark cat? GIF via Keith Johnson/YouTube.


Cats are the best, and we know that they love us, but they can also accidentally make us sick.

Yes, it's true. Cats are the source of an extremely common parasite called Toxoplasma gondii that reproduces exclusively inside cats. And once infected, cats poop out T. gondii eggs — called oocysts — and these eggs have a tendency to make their way into humans and other mammals. This can then cause the disease toxoplasmosis, which can be very dangerous.

It's not their fault — cats don't want to have this parasite any more than you do — and we don't blame them, but it's still a reality that we both have to face. So, how do we deal with it?

To help answer that, here are nine things that your cat wants you to know about this little parasite:

1. It's difficult to know if your cat has the parasite.

Cats rarely have symptoms, so most people don't know if their cat is infected with this parasite. But it's more common among kitties that go outdoors or that eat undercooked or raw meat.

It's best to stick to feeding kitty canned, dried, or well-cooked food. GIF via The Daily/YouTube.

2. This parasite lays A LOT of eggs, but keeping your cat’s litter box clean reduces the risk.

A cat acutely infected by T. gondii can shed up to 500 million oocysts in just two weeks through its poop. These eggs survive a long time — up to one year — in warm climates with moist soil or seawater. And it could take just one egg to infect a human.

But if you change the litter box every day, you lower your risk of infection (and stinky litter smell) substantially. The oocysts don’t actually become infectious for one to five days.  So don't forget to scoop and wash your paws — I mean hands — afterward!

3. So ... you might already be infected with the T. gondii parasite.

Whaaat? GIF via Loves cat/YouTube.

About 2 billion people worldwide — including 60 million in the United States — are already infected with the parasite from (accidentally) ingesting cat feces or from drinking contaminated water, eating undercooked meat (of animals that grazed or hunted in an area where a cat lived), handling unwashed produce, or just from cleaning an infected cat's litter box.

4. But even if you are infected, if you have a healthy immune systems, you’ll likely be fine.

There's no need to turn into a scaredy cat. Even though many, many people are infected, few ever get symptoms. That’s because a healthy immune system is normally strong enough to keep the parasite from causing any illness.

5.  BUT, T. gondii can be a pretty big deal if you’re pregnant.

Image via iStock.

If you are pregnant, HIV-positive, or already have another infection that weakens your immune system, you run the risk of developing some of the worst symptoms, such as headaches, seizures, confusion, and organ damage — most often to the back of the eye. There are treatment options available though, if your doctor thinks they are necessary.

If you get infected for the first time while you are pregnant, the parasite may cross the placenta to your baby, causing a congenital parasitic infection that can result in the child being stillborn or born prematurely. In some cases, the infection can also damage the baby’s eyes, brain, nervous system, skin, and ears.

The majority of newborns who are infected will not show signs for months or years after birth, though. But, if left untreated, this infection can cause some serious health problems later in life.

6. So if you are planning to have a baby, get tested for it.

If you have already been infected before you get pregnant, you usually won’t pass the infection to your baby because you have likely built up an immunity to the infection.  

7. And no, getting pregnant doesn't mean you have to give up your cat!

Don't go! GIF via RedMistNinja/YouTube.

According to the CDC, you can keep your feline BFF even if you are pregnant or have a weakened immune system. Just be extra vigilant while you are pregnant. For example, take a well-earned break from the pooper scooper and have someone else clean the litter box for you (maybe while you take a cat nap). Also, keep your kitty off the kitchen counter, and don't adopt any new kittens — no matter how huggable — until after the baby is born!

8. You don’t even need to have a pet cat to be infected.

You are actually more likely to get the parasite from gardening or eating undercooked meat than directly from a cat.

9. Yes, the parasite does cause weird behavior in mice. But no, we do not know that it causes weird behavior in humans.

It is true that ​infected mice and rats display a number of behavioral changes, such as losing their aversion to the smell of cats and their urine — which, of course, makes them easier for cats to catch them. T. gondii has been blamed for a whole bunch of human behavioral changes, including slower response times (causing more car wrecks) and mental illness, such as schizophrenia.  But as of right now, these appear to still be just theories. Nothing has been proven.

Cats have been our buddies for a long time.

Image by Simone Scully/Upworthy.

Cats have worked their way into our hearts, and they bring a number of benefits. Not only are they great companions, but they also lower stress and blood pressure, which, according to one study, could reduce our risk of heart attack and strokes by more than one third.  And these purring cuddle-buddies also help us sleep, according to a study from the Mayo Clinic Center for Sleep Medicine.

Cats know how to melt our stress away. GIF via Nakuspienne/YouTube.

So while, yes, they can accidentally make us sick, if we take some precautions to avoid this parasite, we can continue enjoying our snuggly little companions for all of their nine lives.  

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2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.

When we think of what a Tyrannosaurus looked like, we picture a gargantuan dinosaur with a huge mouth, formidable legs and tail, and inexplicably tiny arms. When we picture how it behaved, we might imagine it stomping and roaring onto a peaceful scene, single-handedly wreaking havoc and tearing the limbs off of anything it can find with its steak-knife-like teeth like a giant killing machine.

The image is probably fairly accurate, except for one thing—there's a good chance the T. rex wouldn't have been hunting alone.

New research from a fossil-filled quarry in Utah shows that Tyrannosaurs may have been social creatures who utilized complex group hunting strategies, much like wolves do. The research team who conducted the fossil study and made the discovery include scientists from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Colby College of Maine, and James Cook University in Australia.

The idea of social Tyrannosaurs isn't entirely new—Canadian paleontologist Philip Curie floated the hypothesis 20 years ago upon the discovery of a group of T. rex skeletons who appeared to have died together—but it has been widely debated in the paleontology world. Many scientists have doubted that their relatively small brains would be capable of such complex social behavior, and the idea was ridiculed by some as sensationalized paleontology PR.

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True

2020 was difficult (to say the least). The year was full of life changes, losses, and lessons as we learned to navigate the "new normal." You may have questions about what the changes and challenges of 2020 mean for your taxes. That's where TurboTax Live comes in, making it easy to connect with real tax experts to help with your taxes – or even do them for you, start to finish.

Not only has TurboTax Live helped millions of people get their taxes done right, but this year they've also celebrated people who uplifted their communities during a difficult time by surprising them with "little lifts" to help out even more.

Here are a few of their stories:


Julz, hairdresser and salon owner

"As a hairdresser and salon owner, 2020 was extremely challenging," says Julz. "Being a hairdresser has historically been a recession-proof industry, but we've never faced global shut down due to health risk, or pandemic, not in my lifetime. And for the first time, hairdressers didn't have job security."

Julz had to shut down her salon and go on unemployment benefits for the first time. She also had to figure out how she was going to support herself, her staff and her business during this difficult time. But many other beauty industry professionals didn't have access to the resources they needed, so Julz decided to help.

"My business partner and I began teaching basic financial literacy to other beauty industry professionals," she says. "Transitioning our business from behind the chair to an online academy was a challenge we tackled head-on so that we could move hairdressers into this new space of education, and create a more accessible curriculum to better serve our industry.

Julz connected with a TurboTax Live expert who helped her understand how unemployment affected her taxes and gave her guidance on filing quarterly estimated taxes for her small business. "I was terrified to sit at a computer and tackle this mess of receipts," Julz says, so "it was great to have some virtual handholding to walk me through each question."

In addition to giving Julz the personalized tax advice she needed, TurboTax Live surprised her with a "little lift" that empowered her to help even more beauty professionals. "When my tax expert Diana surprised me with a little lift, I was moved to tears," says Julz. "With that little lift, I was able to establish a scholarship fund to help get other hairdressers the education they deserve."


Alana, new mom

Alana welcomed her first child in 2020. "I think my biggest challenge was figuring out how to be a mom, with no guidance," she says. "My original plan was to have my mom by my side, teaching me the ropes, but because of COVID, she wasn't able to come out here."

She was also without a job for most of 2020 and struggled to find something new.

So, Alana took it as a sign: she decided to launch her own business so she could support her new baby, and that's exactly what she did. She started a feel-good company that specializes in creating affirmation card decks — and she's currently in the process of starting a second, video-editing business.

TurboTax Live answered Alana's questions about her taxes and gave her some much-needed advice as she prepared to launch her businesses. Thanks to their "little lift," they provided her with a little emotional support too.

"I got my mom a plane ticket to finally [have her] meet [my daughter] for her first birthday," Alana says. "I was also able to get a new computer," which helped her invest in her new business and work on her video editing skills. "It's helped my family and me so much," she says.


Michael, science teacher

When schools shut down across the country last year, Michael had to learn how to adapt to a virtual classroom.

"As a teacher, I had to completely revamp everything," he says, so that he could keep his students engaged while teaching online. "At the beginning, it was a nightmare because I had no idea. I had to go from A-Z within a couple of weeks."

Michael's TurboTax Live expert answered his questions about how working from home affected his taxes and helped him uncover surprising tax deductions. To top it all off, his expert surprised him with brand new science equipment and supplies, which allowed him to create an entire line of classes on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook. "Now I can truly potentially reach millions of children with my lessons," he says. "I would never have taken that leap if not for the little lift from TurboTax Live."



Ricky, motivational youth speaker

As a motivational speaker, Ricky was used to doing his job in person, but, he says, "when COVID-19 hit, it altered my ability to travel and visit schools in person [because] schools moved to fully virtual or hybrid models."

He knew he had to pivot — so he began offering small virtual group workshops for student leadership groups at middle and high schools.

"This allowed me to work with student leaders to plan how they would continue making a positive impact on their school community," he says. He wasn't sure how being remote would affect his taxes, but TurboTax Live Self-Employed gave him the advice and answers that he needed to keep more money in his pocket at tax time — and the little lift he received from them has helped him serve even more students.

"[It] has been a major blessing," he says "There will be multiple schools and student groups from across the country that I can hold leadership workshops with to empower them with the tools to be inspirational leaders in their school, community, and world."

Plus, he says, it was great knowing he had an expert to help him figure out how being remote affected his taxes. "I felt confident and assured in the process of filing my taxes knowing I had an expert working with me, says Ricky. "There were things my expert knew that I would not have considered when filing on my own."

Filing your taxes doesn't have to be intimidating, especially after a year like 2020. TurboTax Live experts can give you the "little lift" you need to get your taxes done. File with the help of an expert or let an expert file for you! Go to TurboTax Live to get started.