Categories: Infection

Can I catch a cold from my cat?

Can I catch a cold from my cat? No, you can’t. Most infectious diseases are species-specific. They only affect a specific species and cannot jump between species.

Photo: Pinterest.

When a cat catches a cold it is a viral infection. Veterinarians call it: Feline Viral Respiratory Disease Complex. They are highly contagious between cats and can spread quickly in a multi-cat home, shelter or boarding cattery. But they cannot infect humans which means they are not zoonotic. Viral infections can develop into bacterial infections (e.g. pink eye) and vets can sometimes struggle to distinguish one from the other which is why they dish out antibiotics liberally.

It’s also worth saying that cats cannot catch a cold from us. These viruses are very much species-specific.

The two main “viral groups” which cause the cat cold are the herpesvirus group and the calicivirus group. The other viruses account for a relatively small number of cases.

I have written about these viruses on other pages on this website and therefore I won’t go over them again here.

You can click on this link if you want to see a selection of articles on the ‘virus’ in relation to cats.

Feline Herpes Virus

A zoonotic disease

An example of a disease that does transmit from cat to human and vice versa is ringworm which I recently written about again. This is not a virus but a fungus.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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  • No...at least so far people cannot catch a cold from a cat. They can, however, get rabies, tularemia, toxoplasmosis, toxocariasis, MRSA, murine typhus, bartonellosis, Leishmaniasis, bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic plague and at least three-dozen more deleterious zoonotic diseases from cats.

    In fact they carry and transmit far more such diseases to humans than any rat. For example, rats rarely get rabies, and never transmit it. And cats share many diseases normally associeted with rodents, plague and murine typhus (mentioned above) among them. This spring and summer saw a serious outbreak of the latter in southern California, with cases from Los Angeles to San Diego.

    • How many diseases can humans transmit to other humans? "You cannot become infected with Leishmaniasis from your dog or cat." - VCA Hospitals. Are u lying? Sandflies transmit this disease.

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