It seems like there’s always some new sensationalized horrific disease you can catch from your cat, but very few diseases can actually move between humans and felines, and the ones that can are caused by parasites. As far as viruses and bacteria go, though, you’re almost certainly safe from catching germs from your cat. Here are a few diseases and conditions you needn’t worry about when handling a cat.
1. A cold
The viruses that cause kitty colds are very specific to cats and cannot survive in the human body. Although certain flu bugs such as H1N1 can on rare occasions pass back and forth between cats and people, any type of ďcommon coldĒ virus is not transmissible from cats to humans.
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The feline immunodeficiency virus (sometimes referred to as ďfeline AIDSĒ) is not contagious to humans. Although it is related to the human immunodeficiency virus, it is species-specific and cannot in any way be spread from cats to humans. If you or someone you know is living with HIV, you might be glad to know that cats canít catch HIV, either.
Although humans can get a skin infection called scabies — which, like mange, is caused by a mite — the types of mange mites you find on your cat cannot thrive on human skin. According to the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Health Service, feline mange mites may cause a mild itch that goes away quickly as the mites die off.
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Feline leukemia is caused by a virus specific to cats and is not at all related to the human blood and bone marrow cancer known as leukemia. Although feline leukemia is known to cause cancer in cats, it does not cause cancer in humans. End of statement.
5. Hand-foot-and-mouth disease
Although hand-foot-and-mouth disease is highly contagious between people, it cannot be transmitted from animals to people. If your child comes back from a friendís house with the disease, donít blame the cat!
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6. Ear mites
These nasty little pests make their home in waxy deposits in your catís ear canal. You might think that because we humans also have wax in our ear canals, the mites might spread to us if we sleep near an infected cat, but thatís not true. Ear mites are species-specific to dogs and cats and donít thrive in human ears. Also, human ear canals are short and straight, while catsí ear canals are L-shaped and may provide a warmer and moister environment for the mites.
Are there any feline illnesses youíd like to learn more about? Do you want to know if your cats can get germs from you? I really want to put my science nerd hat back on, so leave a comment telling me what you want to know and Iíll answer your questions.
Photo: Cat licking human finger by Shutterstock