Cats and public health

Cats can pose a health risk to you and your family. Reduce this risk by:

  • having your cat regularly vet checked and vaccinated
  • washing your hands after handling cats
  • wearing gloves in the garden
  • covering children’s sandpits when not in use.

Allergies

People are twice as likely to be allergic to cats as dogs, but did you know and it’s the saliva and dander on the fur that causes the biggest problems for people with allergies?

To reduce allergens:

  • choose an appropriate shorthaired breed
  • keep cats out of your bedroom
  • wash your hands regularly and do not touch your eyes after touching a cat
  • train cats to keep off furniture
  • groom and brush them outside
  • bathe the cat regularly
  • clean and vacuum the house regularly.

Bites

Cat bites can be prone to infection including Cat Scratch Fever. Symptoms include a red sore at the site of the bite, swollen lymph nodes and fever. While this disease is not serious you should consult your vet or doctor for further information. If you are bitten by a cat, clean a bite well, apply antiseptic and see a doctor if your symptoms get worse.

Fleas and Ticks

It is a lot easier to prevent fleas and ticks than it is to get rid of them. They are very easy for your cat to pick up, and some varieties can carry diseases that can be harmful or deadly to your cat. Talk to your vet about different products available for preventing fleas and ticks.

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasite that is transmitted through cat faeces.  It is usually harmless, however pregnant women should take extreme care when handling cat faeces in the first three months of pregnancy. In rare cases the infection can be passed on to your baby, causing blindness and brain damage. To reduce this risk, wear gloves when cleaning the kitty litter or gardening and, if you’re considering purchasing a new cat, think about doing so outside the first trimester of pregnancy.

It takes about 36 to 48 hours for eggs shed in the faeces to become infectious, so if the litter tray is cleaned often then the chance of catching the disease is reduced. Feeding the cat with commercially prepared food and thoroughly cooked meats may also help prevent the disease.

Toxocariasis (Roundworm)

Toxocariasis lives in the small intestine of cats and dogs. Once eggs have passed into faeces they become infectious in a few days. Eggs can remain in the soil for many years, so the best prevention is to worm your cat every three months adult cats or two weeks for kittens.

Adults and children should always wash their hands after handling cats. Children should be discouraged from patting strange cats and parents should cover sandpits when they're not in use.

Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal disease like Athlete's Foot, not an actual worm. One sign is hair loss on the cat, although some carriers show no signs at all. Humans (especially children) may develop irritated patches of skin if infected. If signs of the disease are detected please see your vet and consult your doctor. To prevent Ringworm always wash your hands after handling cats and practise good hygiene.