Cat-Transmitted Diseases: Risks & Prevention

what disease do cats carry

Cats are loved pets, but we must know the cat health risks. This article talks about diseases cats can give to people, called zoonotic diseases. It is key to know these risks and how to prevent them. This keeps cats and their owners safe. By knowing the diseases cats can spread, owners can protect themselves and their pets.

Key Takeaways

  • Zoonotic diseases are illnesses transmitted from animals to humans.
  • Cats can transmit bacterial, parasitic, fungal, and protozoal infections.
  • Individuals with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of severe consequences.
  • Regular vet visits and vaccinations are crucial in preventing cat diseases.
  • Maintaining pet hygiene and practicing safe handling are effective preventive measures.
  • Proper litter box maintenance helps reduce the risk of infection spread.

Introduction to Cat-Transmitted Diseases

Cats can carry diseases that spread to humans. These are called zoonotic diseases. It’s important for cat owners and those around cats to know about these.

What are Zoonotic Diseases?

Zoonotic diseases are infections that move between animals and people. Cats can pass on several types of infections. This includes bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. Some people are more at risk than others.

Risk Factors for Humans

Some people have a higher chance of getting sick from these diseases. This includes babies, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems. People like those with AIDS or those getting cancer treatment. Most healthy adults are less at risk and don’t get as sick.

What Disease Do Cats Carry?

Cats can give people various zoonotic diseases. Knowing the feline diseases list helps lower health risks. These diseases can be bacterial, parasitic, viral, or fungal.

what disease do cats carry

Common Zoonotic Diseases

Common diseases from cats include:

  • Toxoplasmosis: This comes from the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. People can get it from touching infected cat poop.
  • Cat Scratch Disease (CSD): Caused by Bartonella henselae bacteria. It spreads through cat bites or scratches.
  • Ringworm: A fungal infection showing up as skin sores. It’s caught by touching an ill cat.
  • Salmonella: A bacterial illness people get from cat poop that’s infected.

Who is Most at Risk?

Some people are more likely to get sick from cat-borne diseases:

  1. Immunocompromised individuals: Includes those with cancer or born with weak immune systems.
  2. Pregnant women: They need to be careful of Toxoplasmosis. It’s harmful during pregnancy.
  3. Young children and elderly individuals: Their weaker immune systems make them more prone to these diseases.

Bacterial Infections Transmitted by Cats

Cats can give people certain bacterial diseases. It’s key to know these diseases, their spread, and symptoms. We’ll look at Cat Scratch Disease, Pasteurella multocida, and Salmonella poisoning next.

Cat Scratch Disease (CSD)

Cat Scratch Disease comes from the Bartonella henselae bacteria. It happens when an infected cat scratches or bites someone. Symptoms can swell and blister where hurt. In bad cases, it can affect the eyes, brain, or heart. Seeing a doctor early is key to deal with this disease.

Pasteurella multocida

Pasteurella multocida is another issue. This germ lives in cat’s breathing paths and spreads through bites or scratches. It can turn the skin red and swollen. If ignored, it gets worse. Doctors often use antibiotics to treat it.

Salmonella Poisoning

Salmonella can also come from cats, especially their waste. It’s a big health risk. People get sick by touching infected cats or their poop. Symptoms include fever, stomach pains, and diarrhea. Antibiotics are usually needed for this too.

Knowing these bacterial diseases is key to staying safe. Keeping clean, caring for cat wounds right away, and checking cat health helps lower risks.

Infection Causing Bacterium Transmission Symptoms Treatment
Cat Scratch Disease (CSD) Bartonella henselae Scratches or bites from infected cats Swelling, blistering, eye/brain/heart infections Antibiotics
Pasteurella multocida Pasteurella multocida Bites or scratches Red, swollen skin, severe progression Antibiotics
Salmonella Poisoning Salmonella Exposure to feces Fever, stomach cramps, diarrhea Antibiotics

Parasitic Infections from Cats

Cats can carry harmful parasites. These include flea-related diseases and feline parasites like roundworms. They can cause skin issues or serious internal problems.

Preventing parasites in cats is vital for keeping pets and people healthy. Intestinal parasites in cats can be hard to spot until they’re a big problem. It’s important to get your cat regular vet care. This includes deworming and keeping their living area clean.

We need to know about the common parasites from cats and their effects:

Type of Parasite Description Health Impact on Humans
Roundworms Toxocara cati, commonly found in kitten intestines Can cause visceral larva migrans, leading to fever, fatigue, and abdominal pain
Hookworms Ancylostoma species, typically spread through contaminated soil May result in cutaneous larva migrans, a severe itchy skin disease
Fleas Common vector for various diseases including tapeworms Can lead to skin irritations and, in severe cases, allergic reactions
Scabies Caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei Intense itching and skin rash, may require medical treatment

To lower the risk of cat parasites, groom your pet regularly. Also, use proper flea control and visit the vet often. By staying aware and careful, we can protect against the health risks of cat parasites.

Protozoal Infections

Protozoal infections are quite common in cats and can be harmful to humans. We can catch these diseases through contact with infected cat poop or dirty places. Knowing about different protozoal infections can help us avoid them.


Cryptosporidium in cats can cause cryptosporidiosis, leading to diarrhea and belly aches. The parasite’s oocysts can live a long time outside a host, spreading easily if cleanliness is poor. People with weak immune systems need to be extra careful.


Giardia in cats causes another infection. It spreads through cysts in the poop of sick cats. While healthy folks may just get mild diarrhea, it’s worse for those with weak immunity and babies. Staying clean and maintaining good hygiene can help stop it from spreading.


Humans can get toxoplasmosis from the Toxoplasma gondii parasite in cat poop. This infection is especially dangerous for pregnant women. It can cause serious problems like birth defects or blindness in unborn babies. Being careful with cat litter and practicing good hygiene are key prevention steps.

Protozoal Infection Main Source Symptoms Risk Groups
Cryptosporidiosis Cryptosporidium in cats Diarrhea, abdominal cramps Immunocompromised individuals
Giardiasis Giardia in cats Diarrhea, fatigue, cramps Infants, immunocompromised individuals
Toxoplasmosis Toxoplasma gondii in cats Flu-like symptoms, severe effects in unborn children Pregnant women, babies

Fungal Infections in Cats

Fungal infections are common in cats and often lead to skin issues. Among these, ringworm is the most common and can easily spread from cats to people.

ringworm in cats

Ringworm (Dermatophytosis)

Ringworm in cats is caused by fungi. These fungi affect the skin, hair, and nails. It spreads by touching an infected animal or surface.

People can get itchy, red patches. These patches may become sore if not treated. This is common in places with many animals, like shelters. To fight fungal infections, experts often suggest creams and pills. See a comparison of treatments below:

Treatment Method Effectiveness Duration Notes
Topical Antifungal Creams Moderate 4-6 weeks Requires regular application
Oral Antifungal Medications High 4-8 weeks Effective for severe cases
Medicated Shampoos Moderate 8-12 weeks Useful for widespread infections

Preventing ringworm is key, especially where many animals live together. Regular cleaning, grooming, and quick vet visits can stop the spread. This keeps pets and their owners healthy.

Preventing Cat-Transmitted Diseases

To stop cat diseases, keep your pet clean, handle them safely, and visit the vet regularly. These steps are vital to decrease disease spread from cats to people.

Maintaining Pet Hygiene

It’s critical to keep your cat tidy to prevent diseases. Grooming keeps their coat and skin in good shape. It also lowers the chance of getting fleas. Cleaning litter boxes often and limiting contact with cat poo helps avoid parasites.

Safe Handling and Feeding Practices

Handling your cat carefully can reduce injury and disease risks. Always wash hands well after touching your cat, especially before eating. Don’t give cats raw or partly cooked meals to avoid dangerous germs like Salmonella, which can harm cats and people.

Regular Vet Visits and Vaccinations

Seeing the vet often and getting your cat’s shots on time is key for their health. Vets can find health problems early, give advice on keeping your cat clean and safe, and suggest the right vaccines to keep them healthy.

Preventive Measures Benefits
Maintaining Pet Hygiene Reduces the risk of parasitic infections
Safe Handling and Feeding Practices Minimizes chances of zoonotic diseases
Regular Vet Visits and Vaccinations Prevents serious feline diseases and enhances overall health

Cat Health Tips for Owners

Keeping your cat healthy and safe from diseases is very important. It means thinking carefully about how they live. Here are some key steps to help you keep your cat and yourself healthy.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats

Choosing if your cat should stay inside or go outside is big. Indoor cats face fewer dangers like parasites and infections. They are safer from diseases that can spread to people. Make sure indoor cats are happy with lots of toys and play.

Proper Litter Box Maintenance

Keeping the litter box clean is key for your cat’s health. Clean it every day and change the litter often. This stops bad bacteria and parasites from growing. Wear gloves and wash your hands well after cleaning.

Putting the litter box somewhere with good air flow helps with the smell. This makes your home nicer for you and your cats. Following these tips, like keeping cats inside and cleaning the litter box, makes a safer home. Always take your cat to the vet regularly. Paying attention to what they need is important too.


What diseases can cats transmit to humans?

Cats can give humans a lot of diseases. These include bacterial infections like Cat Scratch Disease (CSD), Pasteurella multocida, and Salmonella. They can also spread parasitic infections like diseases from fleas, scabies, roundworms, and hookworms. Don’t forget protozoal infections such as cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, and toxoplasmosis. There are also fungal infections like ringworm.

How do humans contract diseases from cats?

People can get sick from cats in many ways. This includes cat bites and scratches or touching infected cat poop. Being in places where cats live can also make you sick. Direct touch with the cat or where it lives can spread parasites or germs.

Who is most at risk of cat-borne diseases?

Some people have a bigger risk of getting sick from cats. This includes people who are very sick, like cancer patients, or babies and the elderly. Pregnant women also need to be careful. But, healthy adults usually don’t get as sick.

What are the symptoms of Cat Scratch Disease (CSD)?

If you get Cat Scratch Disease (CSD), you might see swelling and blisters where the cat scratched you. You could also feel tired, get a fever, and your lymph nodes might swell. If it gets worse, it can affect the eyes, brain, and heart.

How can Pasteurella multocida infection occur?

This infection comes from cat bites or scratches. The spot might turn red, swell up, and hurt. You might need antibiotics to get better.

What are the risks of Salmonella poisoning from cats?

Touching cat poop, especially if the cat is sick, can spread Salmonella. This can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, and vomiting. People who are very young, old, or sick might need special medical care.

What are some common parasitic infections from cats?

Cats can spread parasites like flea-borne diseases, scabies, roundworms, and hookworms. These can make your skin itch or upset your stomach. Some, like visceral larva migrans, can be very serious.

How do protozoal infections like toxoplasmosis affect humans?

Toxoplasmosis usually gives healthy people mild flu-like symptoms. But, it can be very harmful to pregnant women or people who are very sick. It can even cause blindness or birth defects.

How is ringworm transmitted from cats to humans?

You get ringworm by touching an infected cat or something it touched. It makes your skin itchy and scaly. You’ll need medicine to treat it.

How can cat owners prevent the transmission of diseases?

To keep your cat from making you sick, clean them well and handle them safely. Take them to the vet often. Keep away from their poop, use flea control, and don’t feed them raw food.

What are some cat health tips for minimizing disease risks?

Keep your cat inside to avoid parasites and infections. Clean their litter box often and wear gloves. Make sure they get all their shots.

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