Cat Diseases That Humans Can Get

Most cat diseases cannot be transmitted to humans, however there are a few conditions that may also affect humans; these are known as zoonotic diseases. It is important to be aware of these diseases and use some preventive measures such as wearing gloves when handling feces or avoid direct contact with a cat affected by a zoonotic disease.

Bacterial Infections from Cats

The most common zoonotic disease that is transmitted from cats to humans is the cat scratch disease, also known as the bartonellosis. The infection occurs if you are scratched or bitten by a cat that is infected with the bacteria. Fleas may also transmit this infection. The cat scratch disease is manifested through symptoms such as inflamed lymph nodes, fever, muscle pain and headaches. The disease may heal without treatment, but the recovery may take a few months; people with immune system deficiencies may suffer from complications.

Salmonellosis is another bacterial infection that may be transmitted from cats to humans. The transmission method is through feces. Cats may get contaminated by eating raw meat, wild animals that are carriers of the bacteria or by eating feces from contaminated felines.

Parasitic Infections

Cats with tapeworms and fleas may infect people with tapeworms; this typically happens in children, as the method of transmission is through the ingestion of a flea that is infected with tapeworms.

Other parasites that may be transmitted from cats include the hookworms and the roundworms, which may be contracted through soil that is contaminated with feces that contain larvae from these parasites.

The infections with hookworm larvae may result in the cutaneous larva migrans, a disease that causes extremely itchy skin.

Fungal Infections

The most common fungal infection that can be caught from felines is the ringworm infection. This causes itchy lesions, a ring around the lesion and sometimes hair loss in the affected area. The ringworms may be transmitted through cat feces.

Protozoal Infections

Giardiasis and toxoplasmosis are 2 protozoal diseases that may be transmitted from felines to humans. Giardiasis causes diarrhea and may be spread through contaminated water.

Toxoplasmosis also causes diarrhea, but is typically not severe; it may affect pregnant women and the fetus, if the woman hasn’t been in contact with cats before getting pregnant.

Transmission of Zoonotic Diseases

The zoonotic diseases may be transmitted through cat saliva, feces or other body fluids. The diseases may also be transmitted through contact with water, food or food bowls and bedding of an infected cat. Other diseases may be transmitted through fleas and ticks.

Humans with a weaker immune system, children and patients under chemotherapy are more exposed to contracting a zoonotic disease.

Prevention of Zoonotic Diseases

The zoonotic diseases transmitted from cats to humans may be prevented through a few measures:

  • Wear gloves while handling cat feces
  • Avoid cat scratches and bites by avoiding to initiate aggressive games
  • Wash hands after each contact with cats and cat saliva and after being in contact with potentially contaminated soil (i.e. in the garden or at the beach)
  • Clean vegetables from soil and wash them thoroughly