What Diseases Can Cats Give Humans?

Calling all cat enthusiasts and owners. Did you know that our beloved feline companions can potentially transmit diseases to us humans? As much as we adore our furry friends, it’s important to be aware of the possible dangers that come with their cuddly companionship. But fret not, because with knowledge comes power – knowing about these diseases can help us take proactive steps in safeguarding our health and the health of those around us.

It’s worth noting that the likelihood of a cat infecting a human with a disease is relatively low. However, cats may carry certain organisms that can cause severe health complications when transmitted to humans. These organisms include bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, as well as parasites like Toxoplasma gondii, which can have particularly severe effects on pregnant women and their fetuses. Additionally, cats can transmit diseases through bites and scratches, such as cat scratch disease caused by Bartonella henselae.

So what measures can we take to ensure our health and safety while still enjoying the company of our feline friends? Firstly, maintaining good hygiene practices is crucial – this includes frequent hand-washing, cleaning litter boxes regularly, and avoiding contact with a cat’s bodily fluids. It’s also recommended to keep your cat up-to-date with their vaccinations and ensure they receive regular check-ups with a veterinarian.

While our furry family members bring us joy and comfort, it’s important to be mindful of potential risks. Let’s dive deeper into the world of what diseases cats can give humans and how we can best protect ourselves without compromising on our love for these amazing creatures.


One such risk is the transmission of toxoplasmosis, a disease caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite that can be found in cat feces. While the disease may cause only mild symptoms in healthy individuals, it can have severe consequences for pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.

So, how do humans contract toxoplasmosis? The answer might surprise you. Humans can accidentally ingest the parasite by consuming contaminated food or water, or even by inhaling it if the contaminated material has become airborne. This means that it’s not just cats that are to blame for the transmission of the disease. Raw or undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables, and contaminated soil can also be sources of infection.

To prevent toxoplasmosis, it’s important for cat owners to take proper precautions. This includes regularly cleaning their cat’s litter box and washing their hands thoroughly after handling the litter or soil. Cooking meat to a safe temperature and avoiding contact with potentially contaminated materials also helps minimize the risk of infection. Pregnant women should have someone else clean the litter box daily and avoid handling cat litter if possible.

While toxoplasmosis is a serious concern, it’s not the only disease that cats can transmit to humans. Cat scratch fever and ringworm are also potential risks. To minimize these risks, cat owners should keep their cats up-to-date on vaccinations and practice good hygiene habits.

Of course, we don’t want to discourage anyone from owning a feline friend. Cats make wonderful companions, but it’s important to be mindful of the potential risks associated with owning one. By taking proper precautions and practicing good hygiene habits, cat owners can minimize the risk of transmitting diseases from their cats to themselves or others.

Cat Scratch Fever

While it’s not usually life-threatening, the symptoms can be uncomfortable and even scary. But don’t worry. There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones from this potentially pesky disease.

First of all, it’s important to know that Cat Scratch Fever is caused by the bacterium Bartonella henselae, which is spread through scratches or bites from infected cats. So, if you’re a cat owner, you’ll want to be extra cautious when playing with young cats since kittens are more likely to carry the bacteria. And if you do get scratched or bitten, wash the area with soap and water immediately and avoid touching your eyes or mouth afterwards. This will help prevent the bacteria from entering your body.

Another way to prevent Cat Scratch Fever is by regularly cleaning and disinfecting any cat scratches or bites. Keeping your cat’s litter box clean is also important, so be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling it. And if you have any cuts or open wounds on your hands, it’s best to wear gloves when cleaning the litter box to avoid potential infection.

Being aware of the symptoms of Cat Scratch Fever is also crucial in preventing the spread of this bacterial infection. Symptoms may include fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes, and a red bump or blister at the site of the scratch or bite. If you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.


This pesky fungus thrives on skin, hair, and nails, causing circular patches of hair loss on your feline friend’s skin that may be crusty or scaly. Unfortunately, humans are not immune to this infection either, and we can develop circular patches of baldness on our scalp or any other part of the body.

The good news is that with proper diagnosis and treatment, ringworm can be effectively treated. However, prevention is key to avoiding this pesky fungus from spreading. Keeping your cat’s living area clean and disinfected regularly is crucial to prevent the spread of the infection. You don’t want to give this infection a chance to linger around your home.

If you suspect that your cat has ringworm, take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment immediately. Treatment usually involves oral medication and topical creams or shampoos. As a responsible pet owner, it is crucial to follow the veterinarian’s instructions carefully and complete the full course of treatment to prevent reinfection.

As for humans, there is no need to panic. Over-the-counter antifungal creams or ointments are usually enough to treat ringworm. However, severe infections may require oral medication prescribed by a doctor. It is important to keep the affected area clean and dry and avoid sharing personal items such as towels or clothing until the infection has cleared up.

Other Diseases Cats Can Transmit to Humans

While we may be familiar with the common illnesses cats can pass on such as cat scratch fever, rabies, and toxoplasmosis, there are other diseases that can affect us as well. In this post, we will delve into some of the lesser-known diseases that cats can transmit to humans and explore ways to prevent them.

One such disease is Bartonella henselae infection, also known as cat scratch disease. This bacterial infection can be transmitted through scratches and bites from infected cats. Symptoms include fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes. In rare cases, it can lead to complications such as neuroretinitis and endocarditis. To prevent this disease from spreading, it is important to maintain good hygiene practices when handling cats and seek medical attention immediately if you experience any symptoms after being scratched or bitten.

Pasteurella multocida infection is another disease that cats can pass on to humans. This bacteria is commonly found in the mouths of cats and can cause infections when they bite or scratch humans. Symptoms of this infection include swelling, redness, and pain at the site of the wound. In severe cases, it can even lead to sepsis, a life-threatening condition. To avoid contracting this disease, it is crucial to avoid rough play with cats and seek medical attention if you experience any symptoms after being bitten or scratched.

Cats are also known carriers of ringworm fungi on their fur and skin which can be transmitted to humans through contact. Ringworm is a fungal infection that causes circular patches on the skin. Symptoms of ringworm in humans include itchiness, redness, and scaly patches on the skin. To prevent this disease from spreading, it is important to maintain good hygiene practices when handling cats such as washing your hands after petting them or cleaning their litter boxes.

Preventative Measures for Cat Owners

However, it’s crucial to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from any infectious diseases that cats can transmit to humans. Here are some preventative measures to help you ensure the well-being of everyone in your household:

First and foremost, regular veterinary check-ups are essential to guarantee that your cat is healthy and free from any infectious diseases that could be transmitted to humans. Keeping your cat’s vaccinations up-to-date, particularly for diseases such as rabies and feline leukemia virus (FeLV), is crucial. Your veterinarian can also advise you on other preventive measures, such as flea and tick control.

Maintaining good hygiene is critical in preventing the spread of diseases from cats to humans. Ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling your cat or cleaning the litter box. Also, keep your cat’s litter box clean and avoid touching it with bare hands. If possible, use disposable gloves.

Did you know that keeping your cat indoors can significantly reduce the risk of exposure to infectious diseases that can be transmitted to humans? Outdoor cats are more likely to come into contact with other animals, including stray cats, which can carry diseases such as toxoplasmosis.

While playing with your cat is undoubtedly enjoyable, rough play should be avoided, especially if you have children in the house. Scratches and bites from cats can transmit bacteria that cause infections such as cat scratch disease.

By following these preventative measures, you can reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases from cats to humans. However, if you experience any symptoms such as fever, headache, or flu-like symptoms after coming into contact with your cat, seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms of Diseases Transmitted by Cats

Cats are endearing creatures that can brighten up our lives, but they can also pass on various diseases to us. It is crucial to be vigilant about the symptoms of these illnesses to ensure prompt medical attention. Here are some common diseases transmitted by cats and their symptoms:

Toxoplasmosis is caused by a parasitic organism called Toxoplasma gondii. It can spread from cats to humans through contaminated feces or soil. Symptoms include flu-like symptoms, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches.

Cat Scratch Disease is a bacterial infection caused by the Bartonella henselae bacteria. It spreads through cat scratches or bites. Symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, fever, and swollen lymph nodes near the bite or scratch site.

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can spread from cats to humans through direct contact with infected skin or hair. Symptoms include circular rashes on the skin, hair loss, and itching.

Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Salmonella bacteria that spreads from cats to humans through contaminated food or water. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and fever.

Campylobacteriosis is caused by the Campylobacter bacteria that spreads from cats to humans through contaminated food or water. Symptoms include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), nausea, fever, and abdominal pain.

If you experience any of these symptoms after coming into contact with a cat or its feces, seek medical attention immediately. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to severe health complications. You can reduce the risk of contracting these diseases by taking preventive measures such as cleaning your cat’s litter box regularly, washing your hands after handling your cat, and ensuring your cat is up-to-date on all vaccinations.


In conclusion, our feline friends are cherished members of our families, but it’s important to be aware of the potential risks they pose in terms of transmitting diseases to humans. While the likelihood of contracting a disease from a cat is relatively low, we must take proactive measures to safeguard our health and the health of those around us.

By maintaining good hygiene practices such as washing hands after handling cats or cleaning litter boxes, keeping our cats up-to-date on vaccinations, and seeking veterinary care when needed, we can minimize the risk of transmission. Remember that prevention is key.

Toxoplasmosis, cat scratch fever, ringworm, and other illnesses are all potential risks associated with owning a cat. However, by following preventative measures such as regular veterinary check-ups and keeping our cats indoors, we can reduce the risk of infection.

It’s also important to avoid rough play with cats and be vigilant about symptoms of diseases transmitted by them. If you notice any unusual symptoms in your cat or yourself after exposure to them, seek medical attention immediately.

In summary, knowledge is power – being aware of these potential risks allows us to take proactive steps in protecting ourselves and our loved ones while still enjoying the companionship of our furry friends. So let’s continue to cherish our feline companions while prioritizing our health and well-being.