While the common cold can’t be transferred between cats and humans, there are diseases, called zoonosis and anthroponosis, that can be transmitted across the species lines. Some are worse than others, but luckily, all of them are completely avoidable. For the most common bacterial and parasitic infections humans and cats can share, head over to Can Humans Contract Cat Diseases, Part One. In this article, we’re going to describe the most common fungal and viral infections we can share with cats.
Ringworm isn’t actually a worm. Also called dermatophytosis, ringworm is just a fungal infection. It’s most common in kittens because they haven’t built up their immune systems yet. A common misconception about ringworm, other than most people thinking it’s some kind of worm, is that it is everywhere. It’s in soil, carried on the wind, and is a part of ecosystems. Exposure will happen, but it can’t thrive unless there’s an environment that supports a fungus takeover. For example, athlete’s foot is just ringworm fungus going by a different name. It’s itchy, sometimes burns, and likes to grow in damp, dark places, like between our toes. However, washing our feet regularly, keeping our shoes clean and dry, and always wearing fresh socks will eliminate the fungus. Some also try powerful, all-natural antifungal powders, like Foot Sense. It can take hold anywhere on the body, but without cats, the most common places are scalp, feet, and groin areas. On our cats, this fungus looks like dry, grey, scaly patches. It’s just as uncomfortable and should be managed with a topical antifungal that’s specifically designed to be safe for cats. Keep cat toys and sleeping areas clean. And we should take cats to the vet for more advanced care, if the infection doesn’t clear.
Sporotrichosis is a fungal disease found in the soil, much like ringworm, but it’s more common in the Southern USA. A human with an open sore would need to come into contact with a cat with weeping sores, so the risk of infection is low, except among veterinary professionals. However, wearing gloves and keeping sores clean, on humans and cats, eliminates the risk of infection. In humans, it looks like a red rash, often with pustules. It usually resolves in a few weeks or can be treated with antibiotics. In cats, it looks like crusty, weeping wounds and requires topical fungicides.
Rabies is the most famous viral infection that can affect humans and animals. It’s always fatal if it goes untreated. Although we know it is transmitted through bites, it’s really the mucous membrane that carries the infection. That means tears, sometimes shared utensils, and other bodily fluids can carry the virus. If a human suspects infection they need to go to the doctor immediately. Because raccoons, bats, and other wild animals can carry the virus, it’s advisable to avoid contact. All fur-babies should be vaccinated, so the risk of infection is never a concern.
Vaccinations are one the most important ways to prevent diseases like rabies. Keeping cat litter clear of debris and washing our hands after cleaning the litter box is also critical. We should also consider supplements such as EcoImmune. This powder supplement can be added to our cat’s food, and it helps to keep them healthy, which reduces the likelihood that a disease or infection will be able to take hold. There are also pet pantry staples for the occasional hot spot or skin infection. EcoMange and EcoSpot are all-natural and should be available in every kitty medicine cabinet for fast relief.
Many people ask whether they need to give up their cat if they are worried about infection. The answer is, no. Vaccinations are the best first defense. Common sense, reasonably good sanitation, and cleanliness are the best ways to avoid contamination and reduce risk. And keeping a few items on-hand for the rare infection a human or outdoor cat may bring home, is also a great idea. Use smart supplements to keep immune systems stable as well.