The diseases that cats can give to humans are zoonotic. They can travel between animals and humans and vice versa. Here is a list. This list should not be used to denigrate or harm the cat as humans give each other diseases too (far more so than cats). It is just nature. If you want to blame someone blame God if you think he/she made the world. This list might not be comprehensive. I have made the list because I believe in providing full information rather than a biased viewpoint as some websites do. The relationship between the cat and human is not perfect. The human side is more imperfect than the cat side!
Note: Community cats being fearful of humans make little contact with people. The chance of transmission of disease is minimal as a consequence.
- Covid-19 – this is a new zoonotic disease that travels both ways from person to cat and vice versa although you’ll find very little on the cat to person transmission. But there are many stories of zoo cats getting it from zookeepers. If it can go that way it can go the other way too. There are fears that pets might create a reservoir of the disease. Don’t be worried though and love your cat just the same. Some experts say that you should socially distance you cat if you have Covid at home.
- Rabies – in the United States, more than 90% of reported cases of rabies in animals occur in wildlife. It is most common in dogs, bats and raccoons.
- Toxoplasmosis – see the truth about toxoplasmosis and cats. Also please search for articles on this site. There are many. This disease is used to bash the domestic and feral cat by cat haters.
- Cryptosporidiosis – In the USA, 0.6% to 4.3% of the human population may be shedding Cryptosporidium in their stool but 15-32% of the population may have been exposed to the parasite. It is more common in developing countries.
- Giardiasis – In the US, only 1 or 2 out of every 10,000 people have Giardia. But it is found in 1 out of 3 people who have prolonged diarrhea symptoms if they have recently traveled to a developing country
- Cutaneous larval migrans – a parasitic skin infection caused by hookworm larvae that usually infest cats, dogs and other animals.
- Plague – In recent decades, an average of 7 human cases have been reported each year (range: 1–17 cases per year). Caused by bacterium: Yersinia pestis. It’s usually spread by fleas from wild animals such as rats. Source: CDC. Update: “A person in Wyoming has fallen sick with a rare but serious case of pneumonic plague, reportedly catching the infection from a pet cat.” – reported Sept 2021 in iflscience.com
- Tularaemia – About 200 tularemia cases in people are reported annually in the US. Most cases occur in the south-central and western states.
- Murine typhus – “disease caused by a bacterium called Rickettsia typhi. Flea-borne typhus is spread to people through contact with infected fleas. Fleas become infected when they bite infected animals, such as rats, cats, or opossums. Source: CDC
- Cat scratch disease (CSD) – bacterial infection
- Pasteurella multocida – a bacterium in 70-90% of the mouths of cats
- Salmonella poisoning – “General hygiene advice on salmonella infection in cats: Careful hand washing after cleaning the litter tray and handling of the sick cat, or its excretions” – SVA National Veterinary Institute.
- Fleas – yes, humans cat get cat fleas.
- Tapeworms – usually caused by ingesting food or water contaminated with tapeworm eggs or larvae. Very rarely, ingesting a flea can cause it which is why it is listed here.
- Scabies. Feline scabies is a disease that is caused by Notoedres cati, a sarcoptic mite that burrows superficially in the skin (Science Direct). “Forty-eight human contacts with cats infested with Notoedres cati were investigated; 30 (62.5%) of the contacts showed symptoms of notoedric scabies, and N. cati mites were recovered from 15 (50%) skin specimens (Study: Human notoedric scabies from contact with cats infested with Notoedres cati) (
- Roundworms – “If humans ingest the larvae of cat or dog roundworm, they can become infected, and illness results from the larvae migrating through organs and tissues” – Source: News Medical Life Sciences
- Hookworms – Feline hookworms do not infect humans internally. However, the tiny larvae can burrow into human skin, causing a disease called cutaneous larval migrans. (Source VCA Hospitals)
- Visceral larva migrans – Human visceral larva migrans is caused by Toxocara canis or, less frequently, Toxocara catis. (source: Science Direct)
- Ringworm – see below. This is very contagious between cats and cats to people.
- Campylobacteriosis – People get Campylobacter infection by coming into contact with feces (poop) of infected animals, including cats, or by consuming contaminated food or water – Source: CDC
- Staphylococcus aureus – this is MRSA which is normally contracted in hospitals and the like but not from cats. However, MRSA can spread between people and animals through direct contact (touching). Even cats that aren’t sick can carry MRSA and spread it to people. (Source: CDC)
- Sporotrichosis – this is rare in the US.
I have ringworm given to me by a cat whose name was Charlie. He had three legs and was my mother’s feline companion until she died. I adopted him and lived with him for years – great cat. He had ringworm and got it from him. That was 10 years ago! I still have it. I manage it with UVB light. It always comes back on my legs but with many months in between recurring. Not big deal but a bit irritating and itchy.
This is Charlie. He’s black so you can hardly see him! While I was stroking him, I was giving myself ringworm! 🙂
He likes to touch:
A cat owner might ingest one of their cat’s fleas! Fleas carry tapeworm eggs so, bingo, that person gets a tapeworm!
Cat scratch disease can be nasty. It is caused by a bacterium on the cat’s claws (due to saliva) and in mouth called Bartonella henselae. A person can contract it if a cat licks a wound. Cats get it from infected cat fleas. It can take several months for the disease to go away if ever!
People can get Salmonella from their cat’s feces. Cats eating raw meat or preying on mice and birds are more likely to have it. It is normally caused by eating infected food.
SOME MORE ON ZOONOTIC DISEASES:
Australian professor claims that toxoplasmosis from cats causes 200 fatal car accidents annually in Australia