With recent revelations that coronavirus is a common feline illness, we answer whether you can catch Covid-19 from your cat and take a look at other transmissible diseases.
Though various types of coronavirus are common cat afflictions, Covid-19 is rare. A few cases of cats contracting Covid-19 have been reported, but there’s no current evidence to suggest that kitty can pass Covid-19 onto you. However, it might be possible that you can pass Covid-19 to your cat. If you have Covid-19 symptoms, the current guidelines are to avoid kissing your pet, not share food, and washing your hands before touching them.
If a cat bites you, and that bite becomes infected, a number of complications can occur. Mild swelling and pain are common, but on the extreme end of the spectrum, you may develop deadly septicaemia (blood poisoning) if the cat is a carrier of the bacteria. If a cat bite breaks the skin, you should always thoroughly wash the area, sterilize it and apply antiseptic as quickly as possible. Seek medical advice if you’re unsure.
Some cats – particularly kittens and strays – are carriers of a bacteria called Bartonella henselae. If the bacteria gets into an open wound or human orifice, you could become infected by Cat Scratch Fever. Symptoms include bumps/blisters, swollen lymph nodes, headaches and fever. The infection will go away by itself eventually, but antibiotics may be required in some cases. Speak to a medical professional if you think you may have Cat Scratch Fever.
Cleaning out the litter box is never a pleasant job, but it’s also one that comes with risks. Cat faeces can contain toxoplasma, and if humans touch the poop with bare hands (or drink water that’s been infected by it), they might contract toxoplasmosis. It’s not usually serious and, as with Cat Scratch Fever, tends to go away by itself. It’s also easily preventable; change the litter box regularly while wearing gloves, and wash your hands. You’re much more likely to catch toxoplasmosis from uncooked meat, so wash that carefully and always cook it thoroughly.
Like any animal, a cat can carry salmonella bacteria. The symptoms of salmonella poisoning are well-known, severe diarrhea and vomiting being just two of them. If your cat eats raw meat or wildlife, they are more at risk of contracting it. Just as you wouldn’t eat raw chicken, feed your cat cooked meat or commercially processed cat food. Don’t touch cat feces or do your gardening without gloves, and wash your hands after handling kitty.
Tapeworms, hookworms and roundworms. These are all parasites cats contend with, and, as such, have the potential to infect a person if their skin comes into contact with them. You can prevent these nasties by getting your cat regularly de-wormed at the vet’s, de-fleaing your pet, not touching infected faeces, and not walking barefoot outdoors. Treatment is available if contracted.
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