10 Diseases Cats Can Give You, Because ‘Cat-Scratch Fever’ Is Real
Cats tend to get a bad rap. Known for being aloof and strong willed, they basically run the show despite their humans' best efforts to assert themselves as the queens of their castles. What's more, you might not know that there diseases cats can give you. But, before you run to your doctor, it's important to know that catching something from your cat is really rare if you keep your pet healthy and practice good hygiene. Seriously, #TheMoreYouKnow about some of the diseases are that can be passed from pets to people, the better your chances of keeping both you and your feline friends disease-free.
"Zoonoses is a general name for diseases which spread from animals to people who have close contact with them, or with their feces," Health24 reported on its website. "There are in fact very few diseases from which animals suffer which can be spread to humans. Diseases such as feline AIDS, distemper, flu, colds and hookworm cannot spread from pets to people." If you do develop unexplainable symptoms and you have a cat, these are some of the diseases you can get from your cat that you should be aware of so you and Whiskers can both get treated ASAP.
1. Cats Can Carry Toxoplasmosis
Toxoplasma gondii — Toxo for short — is a parasite that can be passed from cats to humans from infected stool. You can also get Toxo from eating undercooked meat, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If you have an indoor-only cat, there's little need to worry. However, if your cat ventures outside and feasts on birds and mice, you'll want to be vigilant. The CDC noted that most people who acquire Toxo don't experience any symptoms. However, in rare cases, infected people can develop brain abscesses and blindness, according to Scientific American. Toxo can also affect human behavior and even induce psychosis. Pregnant women who have indoor/outdoor cats are advised not to clean the litterbox just to be on the safe side because Toxo can harm unborn babies.
2. Kitty Can Give You Cat-Scratch Fever
Cat-scratch fever is actually a real thing that cats can pass on to unsuspecting humans. "Cat-scratch disease (CSD) is a bacterial infection spread by cats," the CDC explained on its website. "The disease spreads when an infected cat licks a person's open wound, or bites or scratches a person hard enough to break the surface of the skin." If your kitty scratches you and you develop redness or swelling, fever, headache, loss of appetite, or exhaustion, make sure to see your doctor ASAP.
3. Campylobacter Infection Can Come From Your Cat
Most diseases you can get from your cat can also come from eating undercooked meat, and most of them can be avoided with a little common sense. Campylobacter infection, an intestinal illness that can cause diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and abdominal cramps, is no exception. The easiest way to catch this from your infected cat is by handling cat feces with your bare hands and not properly washing them afterward. Always use a pooper scooper to remove cat poop from the litterbox, and wash your hands immediately afterward. If your cat has an accident outside of the litter box, don't handle the feces directly. Use gloves, paper towels, or a plastic bag to clean it up. Additionally, make sure you thoroughly disinfect the area.
4. Kitty Can Give You Giardia
You can get giardia a number of ways, including from any infected animal. A parasitic diarrhea, giardia is the most common intestinal parasite found in humans, according to PetMD. Cats and humans can acquire giardia by ingesting infected feces or water. If your cat has soft, frothy, or greasy diarrhea with excess mucus and a strong odor, take them to the vet ASAP and make sure you don't touch your cat's excrement with your hands.
5. Cats Can Pass On Worms
If you adopt a kitten or cat, make sure to get them de-wormed immediately because cats can pass on worms to humans. "The type of roundworm found in cats is called Toxocara cati, and can infect humans," Health24 explained. "Infestation of humans by roundworm is common, especially in developing countries, where sanitation is often poor and access to clean drinking water limited." If your cat does have worms, make sure to wipe down all surfaces every day to reduce your chances of coming into contact with roundworm eggs.
While it's called ringworm, there's actually no worms involved in this fungal infection. Ringworm can infect the hair, skin, and nails of both animals and people, according to WebMD, and it's easily spread from animals to humans. "Classic symptoms of ringworm in cats include skin lesions that typically appear on the head, ears and forelimbs," WebMD explained. "Ringworm can cause flaky bald patches that sometimes look red in the center." If you or your animals have signs or symptoms of ringworm, it's important to get treatment right away because it can spread quickly. You'll also want to wash everything in your house because spores from ringworm can survive on fabrics and surfaces for up to a year, which means it's easy to get it again if you haven't taken the proper precautions.
7. Feline Friends Can Pass On Scabies
While it's pretty rare, the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine reported on its website that cats infected with scabies can pass on the mites to their humans. "They burrow into the skin and cause itchy, raised lesions. Treatment in people usually involves the use of topical ointments to decrease itching, diligent treatment of infective pets, and careful cleaning of clothes and bedding." Hey, while it sounds pretty awful, at least you and Fluffy will be all itchy and miserable together.
8. Fleas From Felines Can Give You Tapeworm
If being bitten by fleas weren't bad enough, pets that get fleas can also acquire tapeworm from ingesting fleas and their eggs. And, unsuspecting humans could also accidentally ingest fleas and develop tapeworm too, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. If you do have a flea infestation, which pretty much happens to every pet parent at one time or another, make sure to treat your cats with tapeworm tabs (available at most pet stores) to ensure you've eradicated any parasites. Signs that your cat has tapeworm include small pieces of the worm breaking off from their rear. (The worms that break off look like small pieces of rice.) And, it goes without saying, clean your home from top to bottom.
9. It's Rare, But Cats Can Carry Rabies
With veterinary vaccinations, it's pretty rare to catch rabies from a house pet. However, stray animals, including cats, can carry rabies and pass it to humans, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. "Cats are highly susceptible to rabies, which attacks the central nervous system, causing a variety of signs. Rabies is almost always fatal. In people, rabies infections usually occur when an infected animal bites a person," the website explained. "Even if your cat is kept indoors, it is important to keep rabies vaccines current because cats occasionally escape outdoors, and because rabid animals such as bats and raccoons occasionally enter houses."
10. Kitty Can Pass On Salmonella
The common theme here seems to be don't handle feces with your bare hands if you want to avoid catching anything from your cat. While you likely know that you can get salmonella from eating undercooked meat, this is another illness you can get from handling infected cat feces. "Salmonella is more commonly found in cats that feed on raw meat or wild birds and animals, so owners can reduce the risk of salmonellosis in themselves and their cats by keeping cats indoors and feeding them cooked or commercially processed food," the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine advised. "Wearing gloves when cleaning litter boxes or gardening (in case outdoor cats have defecated in the soil) and washing hands thoroughly after these activities is also recommended."