To avoid the suspense, Zoonoses is the scientific name given to a disease that is carried by animals and can be passed to humans. As a parent, this one comes up a lot. So let’s cover the two that seem to pop up the most, ringworm and toxoplosmosis.
Is not a worm. I repeat THIS IS NOT A WORM! Ring worm is a fungal skin infection [think tinea] which can be passed from infected animals to people. It can be spread through contacted with an infected animal or through contact with microscopic spores which have been shed. It is not limited to cats. Active ringworm infection presents as a rough, scaly patch of skin which is often raised. It is typically round and itchy. In animals, it causes their hair to fall out where the lesion is.
An interesting fact is that you are more likely to catch it from an infected child, than the cat. The cat is also more likely to catch it from your infected child than vice versa. Ringworm spreads rapidly amongst children as they often use public playgrounds and come into rather close contact with many other children. The lesions take 3-4 days to come out, so the children they are playing with may have an active infection with no visible outward signs.
I have come into contact with animals who have ringworm, and have not caught it.
In humans it is treated with a topical ointment applied to the lesions. In animals the vet will usually prescribe antibiotics which they will need to take for a few weeks.
This is a serious zoonotic disease by which a tiny organism passes it’s eggs through the cats faeces. An effected cat will often show no symptoms, an infected adult may have a slight cold at best. The larger concern is amongst pregnant women, for whom toxoplosmosis infection may have serious effects on the unborn child.
Toxoplosmosis can be passed from the cat for three weeks after it has come into contact with the organism. If your cats are indoor only cats, the risk is virually zilch. If you have lived with cats for a period of time, you are also highly unlikely to catch it.
The best way to avoid it is, would you believe, through practicing good hygiene. If you have been picking up your cats poop bare handed and are pregnant, now is the time to STOP!
Good hygiene practices include washing your hands after you pet your cat and especially before you eat. You can ask someone else to change the litter box, however you can do it yourself so long as take precautions such as wearing gloves and washing your hands thoroughly once you are done. Another nifty solution is to use litter pan liners. These are like a bag which sits inside the tray, when it is time to change the litter you simply remove the liner, it holds the contents of the tray and you come in no contact whatsoever.
Toxoplosmosis being transferred from cats is not as common as fear mongering parenting websites and the media would have you believe. The most common way to contract it is through consuming uncooked/ partially uncooked meat and unwashed fruit and vegetables. So if you are pregnant it is a good idea to be especially vigilant in your food preparation. I would also err on the side of caution and not feed my cats raw meat, if this is what you would usually do, I would slowly introduce them to a high quality, commercial wet food or cook their meat.
Now about cat noses. Don’t they just have the cutest little noses! I am going to be biased and say my Macy wins the most beautiful nose category with her Marilyn Monroe esque beauty spot.
Comment with your kitties’ cute nose – I’d love to see them!