Can Humans Get Sick From Cats?

Whether you’re a self-proclaimed cat person or not, there’s no denying that these fluffy creatures have captured our hearts for centuries. However, as much as we adore them, it’s important to acknowledge that cats can pose a serious threat to our well-being. The question on everyone’s mind: can humans get sick from cats? Unfortunately, the answer is yes – owning a cat increases your chances of contracting various illnesses.

Cats are notorious carriers of diseases that can be harmful to humans. From the dreaded ringworm to toxoplasmosis, there are several infections that cat owners should be aware of. Symptoms range from mild skin rashes to life-threatening complications – so it’s crucial to take precautions.

So what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones? Practicing good hygiene habits is key when dealing with your feline friend. Always make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching your cat, their food, or litter. Keep their litter box clean and tidy to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria and parasites. And don’t forget regular check-ups and vaccinations at the vet.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into some of the most common illnesses transmitted from cats to humans. But don’t worry – we won’t leave you hanging. We’ll also provide tips and tricks on how to keep both yourself and your furry companion healthy and happy. Whether you’re a seasoned cat owner or considering adopting one soon, read on for everything you need to know about the risks associated with owning a cat.

What Diseases Can Cats Transmit to Humans?

While cats can be great companions, it’s important to be aware that they can also transmit diseases and parasites to humans. Whether through bites, scratches, or contact with their feces, there are several health risks to consider when owning a cat.


Toxoplasmosis – the mere mention of this parasitic infection may send shivers down your spine. But before you start panicking, let’s delve into what it really is and how to protect yourself from it.

Toxoplasmosis is primarily contracted through contact with cat feces containing the Toxoplasma gondii parasite. But hold on, before you think about giving up your feline friend, humans can also become infected by accidentally ingesting contaminated food or water, or inhaling contaminated dust particles.

The good news is that most people who contract toxoplasmosis do not experience any symptoms. However, for those who do, symptoms can include fever, headache, muscle aches, and fatigue. In rare cases, the infection can lead to more serious complications such as seizures or damage to the eyes, brain, or other organs.

Pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing severe symptoms from toxoplasmosis. It is important for pregnant women to take precautions such as avoiding cleaning litter boxes and washing hands thoroughly after handling cat feces to reduce their risk of contracting the infection.

But let’s not forget our furry friends, too. Ensuring that your cat receives regular visits to the veterinarian and vaccinations can not only keep them healthy but also prevent the spread of this infection.

So what can you do to prevent toxoplasmosis? The first step is to handle cat litter boxes with caution and avoid raw or undercooked meat. Additionally, washing hands thoroughly after handling any potentially contaminated objects or surfaces can help reduce the risk of transmission.

Cat Scratch Fever

This bacterial infection, also known as Cat Scratch Disease (CSD), is caused by the Bartonella henselae bacteria found in the saliva of infected cats or fleas that feed on infected cats.

Symptoms of Cat Scratch Fever include fever, headache, and swollen lymph nodes near the site of the scratch or bite. While severe cases can result in eye infections, liver or spleen infections, not all cats carry the bacteria, and not all scratches or bites will result in infection.

So how can you prevent Cat Scratch Fever? Remember to wash any scratches or bites immediately with soap and water and avoid rough play with cats. Flea control measures can also help prevent the spread of the bacteria.

If you suspect that you may have contracted Cat Scratch Fever, seek medical attention right away. Treatment may include antibiotics and pain relief medication.

How Do Humans Get Infected by Cats?

As much as we adore our feline companions, it’s essential to be mindful that cats can carry a range of diseases and parasites that can potentially infect humans. But the question remains, how do humans get infected by cats?

One prevalent way is through contact with their feces or urine. The Toxoplasma gondii parasite, responsible for causing toxoplasmosis, can be found in cat feces. Humans can become infected by ingesting the parasite via contaminated soil, water, or food, or by handling litter boxes without washing their hands properly afterwards.

Another way that cats can transmit diseases to humans is through bites and scratches. Cat scratch fever is caused by the bacteria Bartonella henselae and is typically transmitted to humans through scratches or bites from infected cats. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.

Cats can also carry ringworm, a fungal infection that can cause itchy, scaly patches on the skin. Humans can become infected by coming into contact with infected cats or contaminated surfaces such as bedding or furniture.

It’s crucial for cat owners to take precautions to prevent the spread of disease. This involves practicing good hygiene such as washing hands after handling cats or their litter boxes, keeping litter boxes clean and well-maintained, and seeking veterinary care for any sick cats to prevent the spread of disease to humans.

Who Is at Higher Risk of Developing Severe Symptoms from Toxoplasmosis?

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite, which can be found in infected cat feces. While most healthy individuals may not experience any symptoms, those with weakened immune systems or pregnant women are at a higher risk of severe complications.

Individuals with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy, are more susceptible to toxoplasmosis as their bodies may not be able to fight off the infection effectively. Similarly, pregnant women who become infected with toxoplasmosis are at risk of passing the infection on to their unborn child, which can lead to serious complications.

Symptoms of toxoplasmosis can range from mild flu-like symptoms to severe complications affecting organs like the brain, eyes, and heart. Therefore, it is crucial for those at higher risk to take precautions such as washing their hands thoroughly after handling cat litter or soil that may be contaminated with cat feces. Pregnant women should avoid cleaning litter boxes altogether and have someone else do it for them.

Remember, prevention is key. To reduce the risk of contracting toxoplasmosis from cats, it is essential to practice good hygiene habits. Pregnant women should stay away from cat feces and have someone else clean their litter boxes. Also, it is vital to take your feline companion to the veterinarian regularly to prevent the spread of disease.

What Other Parasites Can Be Transmitted from Cats to Humans?

Though cats are known for their affectionate nature, they can also be carriers of various parasites that can be transmitted to humans. Apart from toxoplasmosis, which we discussed earlier, there are other parasites that cat owners should be mindful of.

Fleas are one of the most common parasites found on cats that can also bite humans, causing itching and irritation. They can also transmit diseases such as cat scratch fever and tapeworms. To protect both you and your cat from fleas, it is essential to use preventive measures such as flea medication and regularly wash bedding and carpets.

Ticks are another parasite that can transmit diseases to humans. If your cat spends time outdoors, it’s important to check them for ticks regularly. Ticks can carry diseases such as Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which can cause severe health problems in humans.

Mites are small arachnids that cause skin irritation and itching in both cats and humans. Ear mites, a common issue for cats, can cause infections and hearing loss if untreated. If you suspect your cat has ear mites, make sure to have them checked by a veterinarian.

Worms are another type of parasite that can be transmitted from cats to humans. Roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms are all common types of worms found in cats. Humans can become infected with these parasites by accidentally ingesting eggs or larvae through contact with contaminated soil or feces.

To prevent the transmission of these parasites from your cat to yourself, it’s crucial to maintain good hygiene habits such as washing your hands after handling your cat or cleaning their litter box. Regular veterinary checkups and preventative measures such as flea and tick medication can also help reduce the risk of parasite transmission.

How to Prevent the Transmission of Diseases and Parasites from Cats?

Then it’s essential to take steps to prevent the transmission of diseases and parasites from cats. Here are some practical tips that you can follow:

Practice Good Hygiene

Regularly washing your hands with soap and warm water after handling your cat or cleaning their litter box is crucial to reduce the risk of infection. Moreover, keeping your cat’s living area clean and sanitized is essential by regularly washing their bedding, toys, and food bowls.

Keep Your Cat Healthy

Providing your cat with proper nutrition, regular veterinary check-ups, and vaccinations can help keep them healthy. This also reduces the risk of transmitting diseases to humans.

Be Cautious Around Stray Cats

Stray or feral cats are more likely to carry infectious diseases and parasites. Therefore, avoid direct contact with these cats and seek medical attention if you are bitten or scratched by one.

Teach Children How to Properly Interact with Cats

Children should be taught how to interact with cats properly to avoid bites or scratches. They should not pull on a cat’s tail or ears and not disturb a sleeping cat. Supervision is also critical when young children are interacting with cats.

Keep Your Cat Indoors

Indoor cats are less likely to be exposed to infectious agents than outdoor cats, reducing the risk of transmission to humans.


In conclusion, owning a cat can be a delightful experience, but it’s important to understand the potential health risks that come with it. As we’ve discussed in this article, cats can transmit various diseases and parasites to humans through bites, scratches, or contact with their feces. However, there are many ways to minimize these risks.

By practicing good hygiene habits such as washing your hands thoroughly after handling your cat or their litter box and keeping your cat healthy through regular visits to the vet, you can reduce the chances of getting sick from your furry friend. It’s also crucial to teach children how to properly interact with cats and to be cautious around stray cats.

Some of the most common illnesses transmitted from cats to humans include toxoplasmosis, cat scratch fever, ringworms, and various parasites such as fleas and ticks. Pregnant women and individuals with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms from these infections.

To protect yourself and your loved ones while enjoying the companionship of your feline friend, make sure to keep your cat indoors and seek veterinary care for any sick cats.