This time I thought it would be a good idea to look as some of the zoonotic diseases available for you to acquire from your cat. They are not all obligatory, in fact there are none that you would really want to catch provided you are of sane mind. Here we will discuss some of the options in the cat’s repertoire and what we can do about avoiding them.
Firstly, what exactly is a zoonotic disease? Well, the term ‘zoonose’ refers to a disease that can be passed from an animal to a human (and vice verse actually!). It is fair to say that statistically you are more likely to contract ailments from another human than your cat. However, simple precautions, common sense, and good hygiene, including careful handling of litter boxes and treating cats with fleas and other parasites, can further reduce the risk of zoonotic disease.
Most of the diseases pose minimal threat in reality except to those people with immature or weakened immune systems like children and individuals with underlying illness or immunodeficiency, the elderly and people undergoing cancer therapy. If you class yourself in that list then you are more likely to end up with a worse version of the disease than someone with a robust immune system who can fight of the nasties. Pregnant ladies also need to be aware that they can be at risk however there is little evidence to support the theory that the cat must be banished to another place for the duration of the pregnancy! Take extra care when handling the cat, have regular worm counts done on him to ensure that the animal is internal-parasite free and wear gloves when emptying the litter tray – or better still get someone else to do it – and you will have done everything you can to minimize the risk.
So risk of what? Well there are three main forms of attack that the cat has to offer: External parasites such as fleas, internal worms, and bacteria or protozoa. All are preventable with routine worming and twice annual checking that the worming is working with worm counts, or, if you don’t want to worm at all, then more regular worm counts – usually three monthly.
The cat flea, Ctenocephalides is a little devil which is responsible, not only for causing itching, irritation and rashes beyond endurance to humans, cats, dogs and many other animals in its path but it also plays host to the delightful Dipylidium caninum tapeworm. You therefore get two zoonotic infestations for the price of one here as the tapeworm can also live happily in your cat, your dog and your children!
Toxocara canis and cati are two roundworms or ascarids which, again, happily invade the dog, the cat and your kids (and you – there is no escape). The human form of the disease toxocariasis is quite nasty but thankfully quite rare and involves larvae invading your organs and even your eyeballs!
Hookworms live under the skin and cause itchy rashes and general ill health – who wouldn’t feel ill with a load of worms wandering round their system?
The bacterial soup sloshing around in your cat’s faeces is quite amazing and can contain such delights as salmonella. Then there are the protozoans including coccidia and giardia. These cause a lovely bout of diarrhoea in the cat and in you – simple remedy to catching these – don’t pick up cat poo without gloves on!!
So what is the way forward? For those cat owners who are not averse to using chemical wormers, the British Veterinary Association recommends that you worm your cat 3 monthly as a minimum. There are herbal remedies which create a healthy gut environment so that the worms don’t like to live there however, they are not licensed to kill worms if the cat already has them. There are pesticide spot-ons available to prevent fleas from taking residence on your cat and subsequently in your home and if you suspect your cat has a bacterial or protozoan infection there is little option but to visit your Vet. At this point I expect you will be now regarding your cat with renewed suspicion. Is he a walking worm farm? Is he harbouring a flea circus with accompanying tapeworms? There is only one way to find out if your cat has fleas and that is to check his coat very regularly for little black specks and watch out for signs of itching and scratching. It’s not so easy to know if he has internal parasites though. Tapeworm segments can appear around his tail area and look like little wriggling maggots or mobile grains of rice! Internal worms are not so easy to spot and really are only discovered in the routine worm count.
Scared now? Horrified at what is going on inside kitty? Well please don’t worry as help is at hand. Pop over to www.wormcount.com and click on the ‘science stuff’ pages to see more about internal parasites that can be found in the worm count then, when you are totally convinced order one of our £8.50 worm count kits. The instructions are really easy to follow and we will get the results of the test back to you on the same day that the poo arrives in the lab. There are qualified staff just itching (!) to help you if you have a problem and the advice is all free. So, for peace of mind – what are you waiting for?
Thanks for sticking with this – it isn’t pleasant I know but you can do something really easily to help your cat and yourself.
Until next time.