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Can my cat catch my cold or flu from me?

can my cat catch my cold or flueNow I have read it all. Weeks of press-coverage about increased suicide amongst women. This Scandinavian study said that women caught toxoplasmosis from cat poo when they were cleaning litter trays. The result was mental upset and an increase in suicides. Put no credence in this. It was the result of a poorly designed study. You can prove anything with statistics but journalists love the story. Now there are claims disease transmission can occur in the other direction — humans to cats. The question arises can my cat catch my cold or flu from me? Read this from Oregon State University:

So can my cat catch my cold of flu?

 “We worry a lot about zoonosis, the transmission of diseases from animals to people,” said Christiane Loehr, an associate professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. “But most people don’t realize that humans can also pass diseases to animals, and this raises questions and concerns about mutations, new viral forms and evolving diseases that may potentially be zoonotic. And, of course, there is concern about the health of the animals.”

The researchers are surveying flu transmission to household cat and dog populations, and suggest that people with influenza-like illness distance themselves from their pets. If a pet experiences respiratory disease or other illness following household exposure to someone with the influenza-like illness, the scientists encourage them to take the pet to a veterinarian for testing and treatment.

Scared? Don’t be. This is a very slight risk and they have only studied 13 cases caused in this way. The chance of you giving your cat an infection is extremely low. Veterinarians should, of course, understand there is a very small chance this could happen, as should you — it’s much like astronomers should be aware an asteroid could hit New York.  If we worried about everything that could happen we would, for sure, quickly die of worry.  Be aware but don’t lose sleep.

In general we should be careful about hygiene whatever the direction of transmission. Be fastidious when you clean out your cat’s litter tray and wash your hands afterwards. If you are pregnant give the task to someone else if you possibly can. Take cat bites and scratches seriously and have them treated if necessary. Obviously don’t sneeze over your cat even if your cat sneezes over you. Those things are worth worrying about — not whether or not your cat can catch a cold from you.

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2 comments

  1. And get a flu shot!

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