Don’t Let Your Cat Make You Sick

Article posted in: Lifestyle

Multiple studies—and anybody who’s ever stroked a cat—have shown that having a pet can be good for your health, from reducing your blood pressure to improving your mood. And as we show in this article published today on Nutrisystem’s The Leaf, cats can actually teach you about weight loss—in their own fashion, of course. But at the same time you need to make sure that your furry friend isn’t hurting your health. Although cats may seem fastidious, especially when compared to dogs, there are some things you need to be mindful of whenever you’re dealing with them. Here are a few:

1. Beware of cat bites. According to a study in The Journal of Hand Surgery, less than 15 percent of people who show up at an emergency room are there for cat bites. And although cat bites are typically not as deep as dog bites, they carry a special risk because 90 percent of healthy cats carry the bacterium Pasteurella multocida in their mouths. Such an infection, which can cause redness, swelling and pain, can be treated with Amoxicillin.

2. Likewise for scratches. Cat scratch fever is a very real ailment, not just a Ted Nugent song. It’s caused by Bartonella henselae, another germ cats tend to carry, this one on their claws and paws. Although the incidence of cat scratch fever has declined with better treatment for fleas, which transmit the germ to cats, it can be especially harmful for people with compromised immune systems, like those on chemotherapy.

3. Litter boxes may contain toxoplasmosis. Pregnant women typically are advised to leave the litter box duties to someone else in order to avoid exposure to toxoplasmosis, which is caused by Toxoplasma gondi, a parasite many cats carry. Although 60 million people in the United States carry the parasite to no ill effect, it can be very harmful to a developing fetus. Cats are the parasite’s natural host. Wash your hands thoroughly whenever you come in contact with a litter box.