A cat on the bed next to you at night can be hazardous to your health so says a scientist, Bruno Chomel of the University of California-Davis. He is a scientist who has done a number of studies on zoonotic diseases; diseases that are transmittable from animal to person and so he is a specialist in this field probably. Of course a person is an animal in a strict sense so the whole concept of zoonotic diseases baffles me to be honest. Although I don’t want to go down that route too far (for fear of upsetting people), if we consider ourselves as bipedal primates in the great ape family it does make us a bit more humble, don’t you think? And that certainly helps in our relationship with animals.
photo copyright DDFic (Flickr)
Do you allow your cat on the bed at night? I do. I always have and I have never caught the plague or chagas disease, two diseases that are quoted in the study that can be transmitted to us from cats. There is also taxoplasmosis and more – see more here: Zoonotic disease carried by cats (an earlier post not related to this study). I have not seen the study referred to, incidentally, but I have seen articles that refer to it. To mention the plague as a zoonotic disease in this context is not sensible. It is too sensationalist.
In a strict sense Bruno is correct, we can get a disease from our cat. But we can also get a disease from a human and are more likely to do so, in my opinion. Should we push our significant other half out of the bed at night!?
Ruth – Kattaddorra – and Jo worn out!
Going wider we can get injured anywhere and at anytime. We have to take some risks in life and the benefits of living and sleeping with a cat far outweigh the very slight, almost minuscule risk of catching some rare disease.
Accordingly, looking at a cat sleeping on the bed next to you at night in a common sense and rounded way, it seems to me that the good scientist is looking at the subject from a much too narrow and purely scientific manner.
He says that the bed should be a private place that is out of bounds to your cat companion. If you want a cat in the bed with you make it a plush toy! I can think of a few cat owners who I would advise to do that – cat declawers in case you didn’t get my meaning.
Apparently a good percentage of people let their cat or dog sleep with them (up to 62% apparently but the figure is a guess it seems).
A commentator on the Gather website says that people should wash their hands after playing with their pets. She probably gets this from Bruno’s study. Have you ever done that? It means that you should wash your hands after stroking your cat – impossible and mad. If you feel like doing that you definitely need to buy a large, cat plush toy substitute!
I wonder if Bruno’s study is a reflection of modern life. The risk averse, health and safety mad world we now live in. In Britain this translates to a wide range of behaviour changes in humans from driving children to school when once they might have walked and the stopping of school adventure outings etc.
Children are meant to be more vulnerable to catching a zoonotic disease but as a counter argument children should be exposed to risk and a bit of disease to build up their immunity. Once again it is a balancing act based on common sense and a wide viewpoint.
There is one other factor. Some cats like to sleep next to us. They like to be on the bed. It benefits them. We have a duty to do our best for our cat companions as family members. Is not that something that should be factored in when making a decision whether our cat should be allowed on the bed?
My old lady cat is on my bed right now. She is next to me and she has just meowed to say, “Where is my fish lunch?” “It’s coming”, I say. Time to stop and get that fish in the microwave!