You may have gotten sick or been diagnosed with an illness or a parasite recently. The doctor may have even told that you could potentially have gotten it from your animals. However, can you really have gotten a parasite from your furry loved one?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) it is possible for us to get diseases from cats although it is very rare. This is because cats rarely carry germs that make owners sick but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. The germs that cats carry can cause a variety of illnesses to people. They can range from minor skin infections to serious illnesses. It is recommended to take your cat into your local vet routinely.
Getting sick from an animal is called a zoonotic Disease. This basically means that the disease or virus can be transmitted from animals to humans. If you have any questions or concerns, you should consult with your local doctor and veterinarian.
What are common illnesses I can get from my cat?
Below are the most common types of illnesses you can receive from your cats.
Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) is a bacterial infection caused by Bartonella henselae. It can be carried by infected cats in their saliva or in the bodies of the fleas they carry. As the name implies, it is transmitted via getting scratched by an infected cat, however, it can also be transmitted through a bite or an infected cat licks an open wound on your body. Cats typically get infected due to fleas living on them. If you are infected with CSD, symptoms can show a blister, swelling, or a rash at the bite or scratch. You can also suffer from fevers, headaches, sore muscles and joints, loss of appetite, and less energy/fatigue.
With a healthy immune system you will recover relatively quickly and not suffer from long lasting effects. However, if you have a compromised immune system, you could suffer from more sever symptoms such as infections in the eyes, brain, and heart. Severe cases can take months for it to go away or may even require antibiotics in order to resolve the disease. Consult with your local doctor for best prognosis.
Pasteurella multocida is commonly found in roughly 70 to 90 percent of all cats. If bitten by a cat, the odds of you getting this bacteria are between 50-80%. They may require serious medical attention if bites aren’t properly tended to. If bitten, you may suffer from pain, swelling, and redness around the would site within a day or two. Antibiotics are necessary in order to completely cure this disease. If left untreated, rare but severe cases can develop that lead to infection throughout the bloodstream or heart-valves.
Salmonella poisoning is also a common disease transmitted from cats to humans if the cat is infected with salmonella. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, stomach pains, fever, or vomiting. Most commonly acquired by eating under cooked foods such as chicken or raw eggs, if your cat gets into anything containing salmonella, then it can spread it to you as well. It can also be passed through their stool and can infect you while cleaning your cats litter box.
Typically salmonella poisoning is mild but in severe cases can affect your digestive tract or other organs. If you feed your cat a natural raw diet, the chances of them developing salmonella are higher or they can catch it from catching wildlife outdoors. To help reduce the chances of receiving salmonella poisoning, you should see our “How to protect yourself from getting sick” section below.
Fleas and scabies have been known to carry tapeworms, CSD, and other types of zoonotic diseases. Usually through inadvertently eating fleas can you get tapeworms but if your cat sleeps on your bed, it is possible.
Roundworms and hookworms are another parasite humans can get from cats. If you interact with the soil or litter boxes and then ingested. Typically children will suffer from these or people who practice poor hygiene are susceptible to these parasites.
Dermatophytosis or ringworm can cause skin infections if your cat comes into contact with these types of fungal infections. Highly contagious and easily spread can cause red, round, and itchy lesions on the body. They can appear anywhere on the body including the scalp and feet. Very similar to getting athletes foot.
Cryptosporidiosis, Giardiasis, and Toxoplasmosis are protozoal infections you can get from your cat. They can cause diarrhea, vomiting, fevers, abdominal cramps, dehydration, and more in humans and cats. Typically found in cats feces and spread from poor hygiene and lead to getting infected by these diseases. You can also get them by eating or drinking contaminated food or water. If you suffer from a weak immune system, you can face severe medical issues.
If you think you have or do have any of the above symptoms or issues, it’s always best to consult with your local physician for diagnosis and treatment.
How to protect yourself from getting sick
- If you ever come into contact with a sick cats saliva, litter box, stool, or have any suspicions that your cat may be sick, always wash your hands with soap and running water or use hand sanitizer. This will greatly reduce the chances of getting sick from your animal or spreading the disease.
- If your cat is an outdoor cat and likes to hang out in your gardens or flower beds, it’s a good idea to wear gloves. This helps mitigate the risk of getting a disease because the gloves will protect your hands. If you don’t wear gloves, a simple scratch or eye rub could turn into getting sick.
- Keep your cat inside rather than letting them out and don’t let your cat interact with unknown or stray animals.
- Litter train your cat and keep their litter box clean.
- Visit and consult with your local veterinarian regarding routine checkups and care to make sure your cat stays healthy and to prevent infectious diseases.
- Ultimately, even if you follow the above steps, it still should be known that your cat or kitten can still spread an infectious disease even if they look or appear to be healthy.