The Scientific Reason Kim K's Surrogate Can't Touch Cat Poop

Getty Images / Larry Busacca

A third Kardashian West baby might be coming in the near future, but Kim won’t be the one with the baby bump. On Wednesday, TMZ reported that she will use a surrogate this time around because of uterine complications she faced while carrying Saint, her second child. But as you might expect, the bearer of the next heir to the Kardashian West empire will be under strict supervision, especially when it comes to her health.

That’s why the family won’t be letting her change cat litter for nine months.

Among the rules that Kim and Kanye allegedly set for their surrogate in order to protect the baby are: no drinking alcohol, no eating raw fish, no smoking or using drugs, and no hanging out in hot tubs, but the strangest one by far is no changing cat litter. She’ll get compensated for doing so, of course: It was reported that Kim and Kanye have made a deal with an agency to pay the surrogate $45,000 over ten months with an additional $50,000 for each additional kid, if she is pregnant with multiples.

While all poop contains a variety of microorganisms, cat poop, in particular, has been shown to carry and spread the parasite Toxoplasma gondii. When humans get infected with this parasite, they usually don’t experience much — just mild flu-like symptoms, like muscle aches and sore lymph nodes — but the parasite can lay dormant in the body and get re-activated if the person becomes immunosuppressed.

But if pregnant humans — especially those who haven’t been infected before — get infected, T. gondii poses a much bigger problem: It can be passed onto the unborn child via the placenta, increasing the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, abnormal head size and shape, and even future vision loss and mental disability. If the fetus becomes infected very early in the pregnancy, there’s a chance it won’t survive. Even if the mom gets infected just before she becomes pregnant, the parasite could still infect the baby. The CDC recommends that women infected with T. gondii should wait 6 months before getting pregnant.

But does cat poop really pose that much of a problem for infection?

The parasite Toxoplasma gondii can be found on pork, lamb and cat poop.

Flickr / USDAgov

In an article published in 2000 in the International Journal of Parasitology, researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City and the Institute for Parasitology in Hannover Germany reported that T. gondii is most commonly spread through consumption of undercooked pork or lamb, unpasteurized milk, and, yes, cat poop. While most healthy people won’t get sick from the parasite, people with compromised immune systems — pregnant moms and babies — are at risk.

Technically, even though simply being around a cat raises the chances of getting infected with the parasite, Kim K’s future surrogate probably wouldn’t need to get rid of her cat if she had one: The CDC just recommends getting someone else to handle cat litter duties when you’re pregnant and using gloves if you have to clean the litter. But if Kim and Kanye put as much care into their pregnancies as they do into the curation of their public brand, we can be sure they won’t be taking any chances.