Can I Get Toxoplasmosis From Kissing My Cat?

How are people infected with toxoplasmaThe answer to the question in the title is “yes, but the chances are extremely slight”. The reason why there is a almost infinitesimal risk of getting toxoplasmosis from your cat if you kiss him is because a cat cleans his bottom with his tongue. The cat also may have toxoplasmosis oocysts in his feaces. So you can see how transmission from cat to person could occur. However, a cat that is infected with toxomplasmosis…..

“will only shed oocysts (eggs) in his or her faeces for a short time of about ten days after being exposed to the disease. After this period there is “no further significant shedding” and no risk to people” (Michael on this page).

About 47% of domestic cats in Iowa, USA have been infected. I would suggest that might be fairly typical. But a similar number of people are also infected worldwide. About 30% of Americans have been exposed to the disease as they have antibodies in their bloodstream but the vast majority show no symptoms.

I think these facts set the scene and tell us how rare and to be honest how unimportant the risk of infection is from kissing your cat. There are people who are more vulnerable than others such people with weak immune systems and pregnant women, who are advised to take precautions when doing the cat litter tray but they should also take precautions when handling raw meat because the risk from raw meat is far greater than the risk from your domestic cat. Their unborn child is at risk but the precautions are easy to take and there is no need to relinquish the family cat.

The problem with toxoplasmosis is hype – media hype. The reporters who know little or nothing about cats and who are required to dramatise stories paint an inaccurate picture of the risk of a toxoplasmosis being transferred from cat companion to cat caretaker.

Before the internet almost no one had heard of toxoplasmosis. It is the internet which has done a disservice to the cat and frightened some people into seeing risk and hazards where there are none or where there are almost none.

The link below takes you to a page where there are three PDF files about toxoplasmosis. They provide a balanced viewpoint. One is by CDC (USA).

Info about Toxo

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Can I Get Toxoplasmosis From Kissing My Cat? — 13 Comments

  1. I read what the CDC and the pdf’s said about this, and I wasn’t enlightened not only because it wasn’t conclusive, but they stopped correlating fatal and serious dog attacks with the increase in pit bull type dog proliferation (since 2000). I won’t, I can’t take them very seriously. I always rely on my own two eyes and reasonably educated brain to figure most things out. I researched this years ago. It’s never been a problem warranting drastic measures such as not having cats as pets and certainly not singling them out and hating them. As Michael said, the internet has increased competition to spread both information and misinformation, usually in the name of being politically correct when it comes to government and public policy. One has to be old enough to balance actual life experience against what is being said, and know how to be a critical reader. You have to know what’s not being said too. I lived with a microbiologist for years, and while I already knew, she impressed me with how incredibly rich and diverse our microbial world really is, and our best defense is to just live in it and take reasonable precautions. It’s unreasonable to hate cats for something that’s all around us anyway.

    • Actually, you can contract T. gondii, just from a cat being in the house. And especially from contact with their fur as this harbors many viable oocysts. It only takes one oocyst ingested by a human to become infected. Millions of oocysts are formed every time a cat becomes reinfected, and they can become reinfected many times during their lives, even from their own feces. A cat having a high antibody count to T. gondii also doesn’t prevent a cat from becoming reinfected. And when the oocysts become dessicated (dried out), they are still viable and can drift on the wind or inside of any low-humidity homes in the dust in the air or collecting on all surfaces. You can become infected just from inhaling the air where any cats have defecated. Recent findings also prove that the infectious oocysts shat by cats can stay viable in any soils for 1.5 years and 4.5 years in any bodies of water. The only way to kill the oocysts is by freezing them to below (minus) -20 degrees F. for several weeks, or heating them to above +163 degrees F. Not even washing your hands and garden vegetables in full-strength bleach nor dilute hydrochloric acid will kill them–your hands and garden vegetables would be dissolved to a digestible pulp long before you could kill cats’ Toxoplasma gondii oocysts. Vegans take note, recent findings now find the oocysts on the surface of many vegetables and fruits due to the proliferation of stray cats everywhere. You no longer just contract it from meats that were infected from cats’ feces, you get it from your vegan meals today too. Don’t eat raw vegetables anymore. They must be cooked to above 163 F. or frozen for several weeks to below -20 F. before being used for human consumption. (You must uses a “deep freezer” as the standard home freezer/fridge combo rarely gets colder than +10 F.)

      • I don’t know who you are but… wait I do know. You’re someone who went to college and learned just enough science to be dangerous yourself. These days you’re obsessed about cats and birds. You’re agenda is to bad-mouth cats until the day you die. Anyone having read his reply know this and know how to read blather like his… the word “can” is where it all goes south, like his birds. Can, could, might, etc. Also, it’s a leap to say meat was infected by cats; it’s likely the other way around. Many animals carry this as well as lots of things. Take it from someone with no ax to grind: I’ve rescued and kept dozens of cats over my life. I’ve handled them and their waste, breathed it, inadvertently eaten and rubbed it in my eyes, slept in it for most of my 62 years and it never made me sick. This can be said for anyone who’s had cats as pets, or even not, who’s likely reading this now, and you’re fine, right? Never heard of anyone going to the hospital for this right? Pet your cat with love and without fear. Discussion over… geeze!

      • Get off your stupid high horse and take you medication. You’re banned yet again and I have barely read your stupid comment.

  2. It’s just hype and a scare tactic from those who think they know better than others, who are also usually cat haters against cat lovers. They don’t have cats and they’ll also say “And I don’t have toxoplasmosis either!” Well, neither does anyone else.

  3. And my twenty-two year old daughter Madeline will attest to this. (She nutures/fosters bunnies, by the way, but still loves all animals.)

  4. Dee, Michael, it is soothing and fun to talk to those who know nothing about toxoplasmosis, don’t you agree? I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter, and the nurses, actually, were disrepectful towards me, thinking that I was ignorant when I told them that I could clean the litterbox any day, as I had been doing it [in the sandbox] since Day One. 😉

  5. Know what?
    I wouldn’t really care.
    I have kissed my cats on their lips since 3 years old.
    Nothing is going to make me stop.

    • Nor me. Some people are concerned but a lot of the concern comes from misreporting of the risks or demonising toxoplasmosis. The title is what people search for on Google. It is what is called a “keyword”.

  6. I think I’d have caught it by now after living, working and volunteering all my adult life with cats.
    As usual the press like to paint cats in a bad light!

  7. I have never worried about this. Even when I was pregnant for my son (now 23), I didn’t worry about it. I always kissed my cat. She was indoor/outdoor at the time, so I had no box to clean. It was never an issue with me.

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