Cat Lovers Beware: Your Kitty Could Be Making You Sick

Cat scratch disease

With an epidemic of general cat-loving going on in the world, we're hoping that this news doesn't put too big of a damper on your day. Still, you need to know: Your kitty might be carrying a dangerous disease.  


Mr. Paws, dangerous? Sadly, yes. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a recent report with estimates on the prevalence of cat-scratch disease (also called cat-scratch fever) in the US. It's caused by a bacteria left by fleas and flea droppings, and can be passed to humans when your fur baby bites or scratches you.

We reached out to Dr. Adam Ratner, an associate professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Microbiology at NYU Langone Medical Center, to get more answers. 

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While all cats are susceptible to CSD, our expert warns that kittens under a year old and strays "are probably at the highest risk" since the disease is transmitted from one cat to another through fleas.

It spreads when an infected cat licks a person's open wound, or bites or scratches a person hard enough to break the surface of the skin (bad kitty!). 

In serious cases it can affect your heart, brain, eyes, and other internal organs. 

Those with weakened immune systems -- like kids under 5 and the elderly -- are most vulnerable, Dr. Ratner tells us. And although 12,000 people are diagnosed and 500 find themselves hospitalized due to the illness annually, Ratner ensures us that cat-scratch disease "is generally not a life-threatening infection, and it frequently resolves without treatment."

However, for the rare case, antibiotics are available for treatment. 

Nonetheless, if you find that you're still concerned, here are just a few of the preventative actions you can take in your home:

1. Wash your hands after playing with cats (especially if you have kids).

2. Keep cats indoors.

3. Wash cat bites immediately with soap and water.

Hopefully, this has put any fears to the wayside for the cat lovers of the world. And if not, here are a few GIFs of kittens -- we hear looking at kitty pictures is like instant rainbows and sunshine.


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