Cats as Carriers: Understanding Zoonotic Diseases and How to Stay Healthy

Zoonotic diseases, which are illnesses that can be transmitted from cats to people, are more common than you may realize. Even though your beloved cat may appear perfectly healthy, they can still carry transmissible conditions. To safeguard yourself from contracting various illnesses, it is crucial to stay updated on your cat’s preventive care.

But how exactly can your cat pass diseases to you?

  • Direct contact is one way in which cats can transmit germs to people. Saliva, blood, urine, feces, or other bodily fluids from an infected pet can result in the transmission of disease. For instance, cleaning up your cat’s accident indoors or having them lick a sore on your leg can potentially lead to illness.
  • Indirect contact is another mode of disease transmission. This occurs when you come into contact with something that an infected cat has contaminated. Consider an instance where your child plays in a sandbox that a stray cat has used as a litter box—this can result in a roundworm infection.
  • Vectors, such as ticks and fleas, can also pose a risk. These parasites can be attracted to your cat and then carried indoors, where they may bite and transmit disease to you.
  • Food can be a source of zoonotic illnesses as well. Consuming undercooked meat or eggs, or consuming raw fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces from an infected cat, are common causes of foodborne illnesses in both humans and their cats.
  • Water can also be a potential carrier of disease. Drinking or coming into contact with water that has been contaminated with feces or urine can result in the transmission of diseases such as giardia or leptospirosis.

Now, you might be wondering, what diseases can you actually get from your cat?

Cats can potentially transmit numerous illnesses to humans, including:

– Bacteria, such as leptospirosis, salmonella, E. coli, tick-borne diseases, and cat scratch disease.
– Viruses, with rabies being a significant concern.
– Fungi, including ringworm infections.
– Intestinal parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, giardia, and toxoplasma.
– External parasites, such as scabies, fleas, and ticks.

This list is not exhaustive, underscoring the importance of practicing good hygiene when handling your cat, their waste, and their belongings to prevent the transmission of diseases.

Cats can harbor a wide range of pathogens and parasites, endangering both human and animal family members. The most effective way to protect everyone in your household, whether they have two legs or four, is by ensuring regular preventive care for your cat. We encourage you to give our team a call to schedule your cat’s preventive care visit and help keep everyone safe and healthy.