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With their cute furry paws and adoring faces, it’s no surprise that cats are the most popular type of pet in the country, after fish.
From their subtle purrs, to the discreet face licks, cats certainly like to share their affection for their owners proudly. But there are some things that are best not shared; including certain parasites, infections and disease.
In some cases, cats have been known to pass on these diseases to their owners unwittingly. As such, it’s important to keep your kitty’s vaccinations and health checks up to date, and exercise vigilant hygiene in your home, to minimize the risk of unwanted disease. Call a veterinarian to schedule an appointment.
Despite being clean animals that enjoy grooming, and have particular bathroom habits, cats can too be prone to certain diseases. Below are five that are commonly known and can be passed on to owners. If you’re concerned about your health don’ hesitate to visit your doctor.
1. Cat Scratch Disease
Cats are playful creatures and will appreciate you taking the time to interact with them. From a young age they should be discouraged from biting and scratching you. Try and redirect their affections to their toys, rewarding them with praise and treats instead. The key here is that the toy should be the fun thing – not your hand.
This is beneficial as cats get older, in preventing cat scratch disease or fever (CSD). This can occur from a cat bite or scratch, or even when a cat licks an area of broken skin. If this happens, clean the affected area with soap and water immediately.
Signs of cat scratch fever include:
- Redness or swelling (including lymph nodes)
- Loss of appetite
- Sore throat
- Joint pain
- And yes, fever
It can take a few days to two weeks to show signs of CSD. If you suspect that you might have symptoms following a cat bite, scratch or open-wound lick, make an appointment with your doctor. This is a bacterial infection that may be left alone, or in some cases treated with a course of antibiotics.
2. Campylobacter Infection
Campylobacter is a bacteria, which can cause diarrhea and other complications. It can be caught from under-cooked poultry, as well as through animal transmission.
While campylobacteriosus is not common in cats, it is more likely present in kittens under six months of age.
The bacteria is known to spread through cat feces, which is where humans tend to come in to contact with it.
Practicing good hygiene is extremely important, and cat owners must be vigilant in their approach, especially when handling litter trays and feces. Gloves should always be used and hands washed with antibacterial soap afterwards. Cat feces should never be touched directly – always use a scoop, or failing that kitchen paper with gloves. Be sure to rigorously clean and disinfect any area where cat stool may be present.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease, caused by toxoplasma gondii. There’s a number of ways that humans can become infected with the disease. One such way is accidentally swallowing the parasite that has come in to contact with a feline, and is present in their feces. This can happen when poor hygiene is exercised, when cleaning the litter tray, or touching or ingesting anything that has come in to contact with the infected feces.
As with before, maintaining the highest level of hygiene and hand washing are the most preventative measures to take.
If you have an indoor cat, the chances of them getting toxoplasmosis is greatly reduced. This is because they are less likely to come into contact with mice, birds and other animals that the parasite inhabits.
In human transmission, toxoplasmosis doesn’t display many symptoms and may even go unnoticed. However, in rare occasions it can lead to blindness, abscesses in the brain or even psychosis.
However, the greatest threat it poses is to unborn babies. Because of this, it is widely advised that pregnant women should avoid cleaning cat litterbox as a precautionary measure.
Giardia is an intestinal parasite which can grow inside infected humans and animals. It is easy to transmit, simply through direct contact, or by consumption of food and drink that is contaminated by infected feces. This also extends to swimming in pools with contaminated water, such as rivers and lakes.
It can be a slow disease to develop, with symptoms appearing anytime from five to 25 days after contracted. The most obvious sign in humans is diarrhea – noticeably, it is often coated in mucus with a strong odor. If symptoms are severe or persist, then visit a doctor for a course of medication.
If your cat shows signs of soft, greasy stools, it’s time to take them to the veterinarian for an exam. Be sure to grab a sample of the stool and take it with you for testing in a secure plastic container, avoiding any personal contact with it.
Despite its name, ringworm is less a worm, more of a fungus. It is more commonly seen in kittens than in cats, due to their weekend immune system, and more commonly seen in Persian and Himalayan breeds.
It is acquired through direct contact through fungal spores, which can be transmitted with ease. Spores can live on clothing and furniture and carpet for up to a year. Because of this, addressing the infection immediately is important – clean every surface in your house and getting treatment for yourself and the cat if diagnosed.
Catteries and animal shelters are natural incubators for bacteria, therefore always research these thoroughly beforehand. A vet will be able to prescribe suitable treatment, in the form of ointment and shampoo, however it may take months to get rid of it, such is its resilience.
In humans, ringworm can sometimes show as round scaly skin inflammation with an itch. It can be successfully treated with prescribed medication.
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