Diseases that you may unknowingly pass on to your cat

Diseases that you may unknowingly pass on to your cat

Your cat is vaccinated. But still, there are chances that he may catch a virus from you. And sometimes diseases that will probably not be too serious or deadly in humans, may turn out to be fatal for cats. So, if you have a feline at home, make sure you aren’t passing harmful germs or infections onto them because your cat’s immunity will not be as strong as you.

1) Influenza :

The first recorded case of fatal human-to-cat transmission of the pandemic H1N1 flu virus occurred in Oregon in 2009. The pet owner became severely ill with the flu and had to be hospitalized. While she was still in the hospital, her cat also died of pneumonia caused by H1N1 infection.  Since then, cats, dogs, and even ferrets have been identified with pandemic H1N1 infection that appears to have come from humans. The signs of illness have been similar to those seen in humans, with respiratory disease. Studies have suggested that exposure - and reaction - to human flu viruses is more common in pets than previously suspected. If you are suffering from flu, make sure you avoid close contact with your cat.

2) Salmonella:

Salmonella cases are largely linked to food poisoning, but humans can also pick up this bacterial infection via contact with infected animals, and animals too can be infected by humans carrying the disease. Signs of infection are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, headaches, and abdominal cramps. Although cats are more resistant to Salmonella than humans, but if there is a Salmonella infection in a house, rigorous hygiene measures should be put in place to avoid pets being exposed to the bacteria and the infected human.

3) Ringworm: 

Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is an infection of the skin affecting humans as well as animals. Despite its name, ringworm is caused by a fungus, not a parasite or worm. In humans, it causes circular areas of redness which can be itchy. In cats, it can cause similar circular patches of baldness. Ringworm is transmitted by direct contact with an infected individual as well as via contaminated objects such as brushes, clothing or towels. Ringworm generally responds well to treatment in both humans and pets. If your pet cat has signs of skin disease, avoid close contact until you have confirmed with your vet that ringworm is unlikely to be the cause. Ringworm is perhaps the most common two-way human-animal infectious disease.

4) Tobacco smoke inhalation: 

Tobacco smoke inhalation is not a disease, however, inhaling smoke may cause a wide range of diseases, including cancer, cell damage, and weight gain. If cats are “passive smokers” in a home where humans actively smoke, they are more likely to suffer from the consequences than humans. If you want to protect the health of your cats, quit smoking, or at least, stop smoking in the same room or balcony that you share with your cats.

5) Giardia:

Giardia infection, or giardiasis, is spread via water, including wells, lakes and streams. The condition can infect dogs, cats and humans, and can spread from one to the other. The main symptom of this disease is diarrhea. If you are down with this, pay particular attention to hygiene between yourself and your cat, in case the diarrhea is caused by Giardia.

6) Tuberculosis:

TB or Tuberculosis can affect all warm-blooded mammals, including livestock, wildlife, pets and humans. It’s a chronic, primarily respiratory infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria. Signs of illness in pets include coughing, and/or weight loss, as well as lumps, abscesses or bite wounds which fail to heal.

One of the causative agents of TB is M. Bovis. The disease caused by M. Bovis in cattle is often called bovine TB, as cattle are a natural host for M. Bovis, but the bacterium can infect most mammals including pets. Although people can succumb to TB caused by M. Bovis, most cases of human TB are caused by a different mycobacterium known as M. tuberculosis which only rarely infects pets.

Cats can become infected with TB in a number of ways including orally (by drinking infected cow’s milk or eating carcasses of infected animals), or inhalation (for e.g. close contact with infected farm animals, wildlife or other infected pets or humans). They can also become infected if bitten by an infected animal or if a wound gets infected by bacteria present in the environment.

The infection of a cat with TB from a human owner is theoretically possible but difficult to prove. However, when an animal is identified as positive for TB, there is a possibility of TB infection in the home. As a result, humans are often screened for hidden TB infection when a housecat is diagnosed as positive.

How to minimize the risk of your pet catching an illness from you

The risk of trans-species transmission of diseases is far lower than same-species transmission. Your pet is safer in your presence than outside in the presence of other animals. That said, if you are concerned that you may be suffering from any of the conditions mentioned above, you should avoid close contact with your pets. There is no need to banish them from home, but you should institute strict hygiene measures like:

  • Wash hands before and after petting, feeding, and toileting

  • Prevent cats drinking from toilet bowls

  • Don’t let your cat lick your face

  • Don't share your bed with your cat.

Cats and humans are usually good for each other, but in specific situations, it’s wise to take steps to protect the health of your furry companions.


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