What diseases can I catch from my cat?

cat playing with wool
Cats are wonderful pets. Research has shown that playing with cats reduces the chances of depression and anxiety  Their playful tactics would uplift your mood and seeing them play would definitely put you in a joyful state. Cat owners are increasing each day, nearly 40 million households in the United States have pet cats. Alright, cats could be your great pal but do you know, they may carry various germs that may cause illness to you and your family? Well, their saliva, poops, and even nails can be contaminated which might make you sick. You are about to know some of the diseases that you might catch when you are in contact with infected cats. Let’s directly jump into the matter.

Cat scratch disease (CSD)

Cat scratch disease (CSD) If you are a cat person, you must be familiar with licking, scratching, and biting your fur buddy. Do you know these playful activities of your furry friend can actually make you suffer from Cat Scratch Disease (CSD)? As the name suggests you may get affected by this disease due to licking and scratching of an infected cat. Thus it is high time to be more cautious CSD is an infection caused by the bacteria of Bartonella species. Cats get infected with this disease through flea bites or when the cat is involved in a fight with other infected cats. They may have symptoms such as mild illness with a fever, vomiting, red eyes,  tiredness, swollen lymph nodes, or low appetite. If you get infected with this disease the symptoms will appear within 1 to 3 weeks. You would have a mild infection with a  small, raised solid bump at the site of the scratch with the swelling of lymph nodes. You may suffer from fever, muscle pain, and eye infections. You must visit doctors in severe conditions. Besides prevention methods such as washing hands after playing with your pet should be adopted. You should provide your cat with a proper vaccination too.


Cat poop may play an agent in transmitting the disease to humans named Cryptosporidiosis. It is caused by the germ Cryptosporidium. You may suffer from this disease if you swallow accidentally swallow the poop (containing the crypto) of an infected person or animal (which may be your cat). You must be very cautious regarding the sanitation of you, your pet, and your surroundings. Simple actions like washing your hands after touching your pets and after cleaning their litter box can prevent you from this disease. You need to be careful regarding drinking water from lakes and rivers as they are the place which accumulates the poop of animals. The symptoms like watery diarrhea with cramping, vomiting, abdominal pain, nausea, and profuse may hit you if you suffer from this disease. If the condition gets much more severe you are suggested to visit the doctor and take the necessary medication however the symptoms typically resolve within 1 to 2 weeks.

Cat Tapeworm

Though this disease rarely causes illness in cats though they are present in it still it may be severe in the worst situation. Cats may swallow the infected fleas that cause the parasites to enter the body of your pet. You may also ingest eggs through the excreta of your cats becoming prone to infection. Mostly, children are at high risk to get infected. The symptoms  In the worst condition the endo parasite may reach the brain and affect it severely. The proper precautionary methods should be adapted from the very beginning. You must be careful regarding the sanitation process. Bath your cat frequently, and wash your hand soon after playing with your pet and after cleaning the litterbox of your pet. Do not touch your mouth when you are in contact with cats.

MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus)

You may suffer from MRSA, a skin infection, which if untreated can get spread to the lungs or bloodstream and become life-threatening. This disease is caused when the common type of bacteria found normally on the skin of people and animals become resistant to some antibiotics.
Any people or pets with any age group are at risk to get MRSA infections. The infected cats may suffer from skin, respiratory, and urinary tract infections. They may not show any symptoms of infections but still transmit the disease to humans. It may spread simply by touching the infected cats.
This disease is easily cured through medication, however, preventive methods must be applied. Just don’t forget to wash your hands properly after you play with your pets and frequently bathe your pet properly.


Cats could spread deadly neurological disease, rabies. It could be spread through scratches and bites when our body comes to contact with the saliva or nervous system tissue of infected animals. Cats show the symptoms of sudden behavioral change and stepwise paralysis. They may be restless and may attack other animals or objects. Cat dies a few days after showing the symptoms. The symptoms of rabies in humans can are seen after days to months after the exposure. You may suffer from headaches, discomfort, weakness, and fever, You may feel a deep sensation of prickling in the bitten area. As the symptoms progress, you may suffer cerebral dysfunction, anxiety, confusion, and agitation. This disease can be easily controlled with vaccination. As soon as you get bitten by cats or dogs you must get vaccinated. Also, your pets need to be vaccinated in order to be protected from this viral infection.


Salmonellosis disease spreads from animals including a cat to people and further from person to person. It is caused by Salmonella bacteria. It gets transmitted in humans and pets when they come in the contact with animal poop or feed on contaminated foods, Eating raw pet food, and infected birds can put you at the risk to suffer from this disease. One with a weakened immune system is highly prone to this disease, especially children and aged people who are at risk of serious illness. Adult cats show no sign of infection whereas kittens may show the symptoms of diarrhea. Humans experience abdominal cramps, fever, and diarrhea in the 6 hours to 4 days of exposure which may last for 4 to 7 days. You must be aware of the food you give to your pets, and make sure to give only cooked meats. Give attention to the prey of your cats and keep it away from the infected animals or prey.


Be careful when your cat eats uncooked flesh of rodents, birds, insects, or water animals such as shellfish. There may be the presence of parasites causing Toxopalsmosis in soil, poop, raw meat, and water which may cause infection in your pet. The infected cat can transmit the disease to you and your family. Humans become infected especially through contact with cat poop. You could be easily infected if you forget to wash your hand after cleaning the litter box and even after playing with your pet. With a proper sanitation technique, you could be saved from this infection entering your body. Cats generally do not show the symptoms but shed the parasite in feces for three weeks after the infection and thus can be a medium to transmit disease to humans If you are healthy you may not show the symptoms of the disease but the ones with weaker immunity may develop the eye disease. In severe cases, you may suffer from brain disease, too. Pregnant women suffering from this disease may pass the disease to the unborn child. You must consult doctors or take your cat to the vet in severe cases.

Tickborne Diseases

Ticks typically get attached to your cats when they are more outdoors and spend most of the time in tick habitats such as grassy, bushy, or wooded areas. Well, these ticks may bring several tickborne diseases such as Lyme disease, babesiosis, tularemia, and many others. Generally, the disease is caused when an infected tick’s saliva enters our body through biting. Well, cats may be the carrier of these insects. You may find ticks around the ears, eyelids, collars, around tails, or between legs or toes. Cats may not show symptoms of these diseases but humans may suffer from fever, chills, rash, and body aches. The condition may be critical sometimes. You must consult to vet and get the appropriate products to prevent your fur buddy from ticks.

Are cats that harmful then?

We discussed some diseases that can be infected by cats above. We came to know that some of them may not be very harsh showing no symptoms while others may be very serious causing nerve and lung dysfunction. In that case are cats really dangerous to be kept as a pet?
Well, the answer would vary with each individual, the place you live, and the food that you give to your cat. You would keep your cats and also yourself away from any infections if you are committed to adapting the precautionary technique. You could say goodbye to many cats’ diseases with proper vaccinations.
Different hygiene methods also could prevent various diseases- giving frequent bathing to your cats, proper management of their litter, and washing your hand after contact with pets could be a few of them. Be aware of what your cat eats, and strongly prohibit uncooked meat.
Your surroundings need to be hazardous free too. If you live around bushy and woody areas, your cat is prone to come in contact with infected animals.  You should be concerned about your surrounding area too as cats are hard to tame only indoors.
Don’t worry when you got the infections too, various medications are available, but remember to be aware of the symptoms in the early phase.
You may have to bear certain risk petting your cat, but the companionship that you get from your fur buddy is worth those risks, isn’t it?
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Arun Sapkota

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