Cats are wonderful companions for adults and children. But like all pets, cats carry and transmit diseases that can infect humans. Here are four ways to avoid contracting a cat-to-human illness from your beloved pet.
1. Know the Main Disease Culprits
Most feline diseases are caused by microorganisms including bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Many cat-related diseases only affect felines. A few feline-borne illnesses can make humans sick.
The following diseases can be transmitted to humans by cats:
- Cat scratch disease
- Cat tapeworm
- Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA)
Cats may not show any symptoms when infected with some of the above diseases. Human symptoms range from fever to stomach issues to rashes and even more depending on the disease.
2. Understand How Cat-Related Diseases Spread
Some of the cat-borne diseases above are spread by contact with pet saliva and/or feces. Feline fecal matter can be encountered in more places than just the litter box.
People can come in contact with tiny to large amounts of cat feces when they do the following:
- Change cat’s litter box
- Pick up cat feces
- Pet or carry their cat
- Groom their cat
- Touch surfaces where cat has been
If cats have been in your yard, their feces may be in the dirt around your property. Some diseases, including hookworms can be contracted by talking a walk, kneeling, or sitting on areas that contain infected cat feces.
Imagine you leave a glass of water on the counter while you answer the phone. Your cat hops on the counter, fresh from scratching in their litter box, and dips their paw into the water glass and takes a few licks off their toes. When you come along later and take a drink out of that now-infected glass of water, you may acquire a fecal-borne disease if your cat has one.
In addition, cats can transmit diseases via infected ticks. Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and other illnesses can be transmitted by ticks.
Other feline-related diseases are transmitted via a scratch from the cat. Raised, swollen, or red areas near cat scratches can indicate infections. You should follow up with your doctor if any of these occur.
3. Schedule Routine Feline Veterinary Checkups
Routine veterinary checkups and vaccinations are the keys to keeping your cat and yourself free of diseases. At a routine wellness exam, your cat will be checked with both a physical exam and maybe additional diagnostic procedures to ensure your cat is parasite- and disease-free.
When your feline pet visits the veterinarian on a regular basis, your cat receives timely rabies shots to safeguard your family against the dangerous disease. If your cat regularly spends time outdoors or in the woods near your home, your cat’s vet can provide advice on how often to immunize your feline against rabies.
Veterinarians also provide reliable, safe tick-and-flea repellents that keep the pesky, disease-carrying parasites off your cat. If your cat is infected with a bacteria or other illness, your veterinarian can prescribe antibiotics and effective treatments.
4. Practice Careful Cat Hygiene
With a few proper cat-handling habits, most of the above diseases can be avoided. Most people don’t get sick from their cats. However, people with weakened immune systems should take special precautions when in contact with cats.
Institute a strict policy of handwashing in your household. All persons should thoroughly wash their hands before eating and after any contact with your cat, their feces, or the surfaces where cats roam.
Other steps to follow include:
- Don’t let cats drink toilet water.
- Don’t feed cats raw meat.
- Discourage people from kissing cats on the mouth.
- Keep cat living spaces clean and tidy.
- Change cat litter daily and wash hands very well afterward.
- Spay or neuter your cat.
Keep cats away from kitchen storage, food-prep, and serving areas. Disinfect any countertop or prep areas where cats have been before you prepare food on the surfaces.
Schedule a complete feline examination of your cat in Mesa, Chandler, or the North Valley by contacting 1st Pet Veterinary Centers today. We offer state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, immunizations, parasite-control strategies, and treatment options to help your cat stay healthy and disease-free.