Can Cat Diseases Spread to Humans?

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Should parents and expecting parents worry about their kitty as carriers of cat diseases?

Could Fifi give the new baby some cat diseases? Can your kids catch an illness from the cat?

It depends.

Despite recent popular rumors, a new study on affirms toxoplasmosis exposure during pregnancy or childhood does not cause psychotic episodes in teens.

The study, published in Psychological Medicine by the Division of Psychiatry, University College London, proved cat ownership during pregnancy, or at ages 4 and 10 was not associated with mental illness in the child.

Zoonotic Diseases Pass Between Cats and People

Most feline infectious diseases only affect cats, but zoonotic diseases pass between cats and people.

Although highly unlikely, disease transfer is possible if pet owners refrain from common-sense practices such as hand washing after coming into contact with an infected cat, it’s saliva, feces, food or water.

Some zoonotic diseases transfer through vectors, such as fleas or ticks.

Compromised Immune Systems Increases Risk

As with most communicable diseases, those with weakened or immature immune systems have the highest risk.

This population includes infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems from illness or treatment.

Humans Typically Catch Two Categories of Cat Diseases

Although humans are susceptible to several zoonotic diseases, that means cat diseases too, typically parasitic and bacteria are the most common.

Parasitic Infestations

Fleas are the most common zoonotic parasite which is a form of cat disease. Although fleas cannot thrive on humans, their bites cause an inflammatory reaction such as itching.

Fleas also act as vectors for tapeworms and cat-scratch diseases.

Some feline intestinal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms, cause disease in people.

However, proper hygiene, like washing hands before meals, cleaning dirt from vegetables, and reducing exposure to cat feces prevents infection.

Bacterial or Viral Infections

Cat-scratch disease, bacteria are known as bartonellosis, is the most common zoonotic cat disease.

Cat-scratch disease comes from cat scratches or bites. The infection causes swollen lymph nodes but is easily curable.

Cats on raw diets are also more susceptible to carrying or passing salmonella bacteria. Prevent infection by feeding cats cooked food and keeping them indoors.

Rabies is the most common viral infection. However, the law requires owners to vaccinate cats for rabies in many areas.


Toxoplasmosis is protozoal. The three most common protozoal zoonotic diseases are cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, and toxoplasmosis.

Cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis cause diarrhea in cats and people, who become infected by a common source, such as contaminated water.

Toxoplasmosiscomes from Toxoplasma gondii. Pregnant women or immunosuppressed individuals are mistakenly advised to remove cats from the household. However, infection is highly unlikely from direct contact with their cats.

Wearing gloves while handling feces-contaminated material, washing hands afterward, and boiling or filtering any surface water used for drinking prevents cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis. Pregnant women or immunosuppressed individuals are safest when avoiding cleaning the litter box.


Ringworm, which is not caused by a worm, is a group of fungi.

Ringworm, transmitted by contact with an infected animal’s skin or fur, is more common in homes with multiple cats.

Because children are at risk of infection, reduce environmental contamination by confining infected cats to one room until they are free of infection.

A balanced diet is the best way to keep your cat healthy, thus limiting them from acquiring cat diseases.

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