The cat is a very interesting creature. The cat is relatively new to the domestication scene. The common house cat was domesticated only 10,000 years ago. Our modern day cat (Felis silvestris catus) descends from one of the five distinct wild cat subspecies which are the Sardinian wildcat, the European wildcat, the Central Asian wildcat, the sub-Saharan African wildcat, and the Chinese desert cat. All domestic cats trace their genetic fingerprint from any one of these wild cat lines.
A list of the diseases that can affect you and your family are as follows:
1.Cat Scratch Fever
Now this does not mean that every house cat will carry all or any of these diseases. So we must remember that with good health cat for your cat these diseases are seldom considered a threat.
Here is the breakdown the diseases that are the most seen in our practice that are a “real and present danger”.
Cat Scratch Fever
Cat Scratch Fever is a bacterial disease transmitted from the flea via digested cat blood excreted by the female flea after she has had a blood meal from your cat. The feces shed by the flea result in a “pepper” like dirt appearance on your cat’s hair coat. This ‘flea dirt’ contains the bacteria called a mycoplasma (also known as Bartonella henselae). This bacteria can then infect a person by getting into open wounds/broken skin on a person or through a cat scratch or bite entering the person’s blood stream. It might also be transmitted through the whites of the eye.
This is why I really stress flea control. Cat and dogs alike will come into our practice covered with fleas and people either cannot see the flea dirt or just think it cannot hurt them. Many clients say that they would know if their cat has fleas because someone in the house is allergic to the flea bites. I can assure you that if the humans in the house have flea bites then the flea population is so high that they (fleas) are no longer satisfied by feeding on their true host (cats/dogs) and now need to feed on the people. Cat scratch fever’s potential transmission rate skyrockets at this point and poses a real threat. The best medicine is prevention of the flea from taking hold of your cat using a good flea control such as Revolution, Advantage, or Frontline.
Ringworm is another skin disease that infects humans through infection of a dermatophyte (skin fungus). There are several species of dermatophyte fungi. Different species of fungi come from different kinds of animals or even from soil thus determining the ringworm species can help determine the source of the fungal infection. The spores of dermatophyte fungi are extremely hardy in the environment; they can live for years. All it takes is skin contact with a spore to cause infection; however, the skin must be abraded as the fungus cannot infect healthy intact skin. This means that freshly shaved scraped or scratched skin is especially vulnerable.
Infected cats are continuously dropping spore-covered hairs as infected hairs break off into the environment. Some cats such as Persian cats are carriers, who never show signs of skin irritation themselves but can infect other cats and people readily. Inanimate objects (blankets, bedding, and litter) might have spores on the surface incidentally. In this situation, the spores can be easily washed away. There is no obvious way to distinguish between these two types of carrier state. If your cat shows any scab like lesion or patchy hair loss around the face, legs, or abdomen, it should be evaluated by us as soon as possible. Ringworm tends to infect children and those who are immunocompromised.
Ringworm treatment can sometimes be difficult to treat and may take months to clear. Patience, isolation, and diligent treatment will result in a successful treatment to eliminate ringworm in the cat.
Toxoplasmosis is one of the diseases we see on occasion in cats. I probably field more questions than see the disease. In short, Toxoplasmosis is the disease syndrome caused by a protozoan organism called Toxoplasma gondii. It has been shown that about 1/3 of the American population has been exposed to toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis affects most animals – most notably sheep, cats, and humans – but even insects, fish, and earthworms may be carriers. Because of the risk to an unborn child, many medical doctors go so far as to recommend that pregnant women do not keep cats as pets. This recommendation is an overreaction of the physician. Infected cats only shed the infective oocysts for 5-14 days. Only contact with those infective oocysts through a fecal oral transmission may result in a human infection. Most cats if they are infected with toxoplasmosis will not show any perceptible symptoms at all. People have a greater chance of toxoplasmosis infection through eating uncooked meat (sheep/lamb/pig) and gardening in contaminated soil than becoming infected from their cat.
However, hand washing and the avoidance of a pregnant woman coming in contact with infected cat feces is a good precaution. If you are pregnant please refrain from cleaning your cats litter box and cook your food thoroughly. Getting rid of your cat is unnecessary. If you are worried about your cat having toxoplasmosis we can test your cat for this disease through simple tests.
I hope this helps. Look for Part 3 shortly. If you have any questions please refer to our “e-pet health” page or give us a call at 419-824-8177. We’re here to serve you and care for your pet.