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Cat-to-Human Infections, Health Tips for Families and Rescuers

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Cats have been in fashion for centuries, but right now, in the last two centuries, they are going through a moment of good image among humans. Proof of this is that they already have their international day, which is celebrated on August 8, and that many people define themselves as ‘cat people’ to differentiate themselves from dog fans or ‘dog people’. This trend has forced veterinarians to step up feline diagnostics and human education.

Most of the cat health prevention measures have to do with diet, internal and external deworming and litter box control, says the veterinary doctor Briza Cubillos. If we want healthy cats, we must prevent them from having wandering habits.

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One of the most important concerns is the possibility that some of the feline diseases are transmissible to humans. It is the case of the toxoplasmosis, one of the “most demonized” diseases, in the opinion of Cubillos, since it turns out that it is not spread by touching the cat’s hair or tongue. It can only be acquired through contact with feces. And without having one of these animals at home, a human can get sick. It is enough to eat cooked meats or unwashed vegetables.

When bringing a new animal to live with you, bring it up to date with its veterinary check-ups and protect everyone in the house. Photo: Shutterstock

“Toxoplasma is a parasite, and the cat plays an important role as a host. It becomes contaminated, cycles through your body, and excretes it. This is the time when a human could become contaminated. Or the mother cat could pass it on to her litter.” But it happens less and less because cats have changed. They rarely hunt their food, they hardly eat raw meat. If there is suspicion of toxoplasmosis, the veterinarian will want to know, among other things, if your cat leaves the house, because that is an alert.

Learn to handle the sandbox correctly

It is not enough to have a box somewhere in the house. It is recommended to keep one litter box for every three cats. The rotations of the sand must be daily, and for this process it is necessary to protect yourself with gloves, so as not to come into contact with fecal matter. If the cat feels that the litter box is contaminated, he will not enter. He will also reject it if he perceives that it does not have the proper absorption. Do not entrust sandbox care to children. Do not allow dogs near this place. And locate the box away from the area where cats eat.

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Still, you could be contaminated if there are stray cats in your area. When working in your garden, especially on the ground, wear gloves. Parks, gardens and areas with sand for children’s play could be an infectious focus.

The second cause of consultation with cats are ringworm processes, caused by fungus Microsporum canis. It is detected by seeing areas without hair on the cat (although there are other conditions that also have this effect). The vet will do a scraping or a trichogram to make the diagnosis.

Internal deworming must be carried out by the veterinarian; the external one can be done by you every month. Photo: Shutterstock

Scabies differs because it is caused by a mite. But it has something in common with ringworm, both are more frequent in baby cats or with immunosuppression processes, poor diet, overcrowding.

Often it is only discovered that the animal is sick when the human becomes infected. Cubillos indicates that if a cat is sick, and you have other animals at home, you will also have to examine them with the veterinarian and take other measures in the house: vacuuming and giving a few baths.

The disease of the rescuers: the scratch

There are high populations of feral cats in our cities, and those who are most exposed to contagion are the rescuers. Scratch disease is an underestimated but very common disease. The bacteria Bartonella henselae is the trigger. It lives in the nails and teeth of cats that have grown up in precarious conditions, and when rescued they react with the habit of biting and scratching.

More than 700,000 pets live in Guayaquil, according to the census; 29% corresponds to animals that have been adopted or collected

In humans, Bartonella causes enlarged lymph nodes and a skin condition that appears within four to three days. “One often overlooks cat bites, but it is important to disinfect very well.” Cubillos adds that there is another way to get infected, through the flea bites; Coexistence with these insects should not be normalized, nor should you wait for the cat to remove them on its own. Fleas are also transmitters of tapeworms. When the animal grooms itself, it can eat the fleas. This parasite, in the cat’s intestine, completes a cycle and transforms into a tapeworm, which humans can contract by mishandling the cat’s feces.

Humans, in our efforts to continue domesticating cats, are exposed by our lack of knowledge or commitment to feeding these animals and the basic requirements to keep them indoors.

Therefore, the veterinarian advises that when rescuing and bringing a new cat home, it must be considered a potential vector of various diseases, and start with the correct deworming processes, at the right times, and go to the booster doses.

Sterilization is basic, he considers, because it will also depend on that for the animals to become domesticated and acquire new habits. “It is a species that requires special attention, it is not handled in the same way as a dog. People say that they like cats because they are so independent. But they aren’t anymore!” Cubillos emphasizes. “Your cat depends on the food you give him. He has become very loving, he has adopted peculiar habits. We hear wonderful stories from cat owners; the market now brings toys and vitamins for kittens”, not to mention the countless videos of kittens doing all kinds of tricks.

Frequently asked questions when dealing with house cats

Now that we know the importance of keeping felines free of parasites, at what age to start and what is the periodicity of the controls? The doctor Gabriela Miranda, veterinarian and zootechnician at Dr. Pet, and a graduate in feline medicineexplains that the appropriate age for the first deworming in kittens is one month of life.

Ask about vaccinations, such as triple feline and rabies. Photo: Shutterstock

That is followed by his puppy doses, along with his first shots. These controls are carried out every 3 months. As to external deworming (fleas, ticks, mites), it is recommended to do it every month.

Also, you can opt for vaccinations to protect them from viral diseases. Ask your vet about the feline triple vaccine, the rabies vaccine and the vaccine against the dreaded feline leukemia.

Against parasites there are oral and topical treatments. And to take care of them from bacteria, you should not miss the medical check-up and have environmental control at home.

Proper deworming will combat cat diseases and prevent you from getting some of them. On this list are toxoplasmosis and toxocariasis and giardia that act in the digestive system, as well as mites that attack the skin and ears and bacteria Hemobartonella feliswhich affects the blood.

How do I know if my cat has a disease that can be transmitted to humans or animals? There are some signs that can alert that something is wrong with our feline. Dr. Miranda says that you have to pay close attention to decay, lack of appetite, diarrhea, weight loss, weakness and aggressiveness.

Pets in the garden: ‘pet friendly’ plants and those that could intoxicate them

Finally, it is possible that we mean well and still do something wrong. Next, 5 human customs that harm the health of cats.

  1. To have floors at home without assessing its toxicity.
  2. offer them tuna as a dietary replacement. Tuna has high levels of sodium and does not support the production of vitamin B1 and thiamin in cats.
  3. Smoke at home with the cat nearby is a risk of cancer, especially in the mouth, due to the chemical residues of tobacco that are impregnated in the furniture or carpets. Remember that your cat will often sleep on them or rub against them or sit there grooming.
  4. Feed them only dry balanced. The cat must get liquid in the wet food, not just in the water.
  5. offer them Cow milk, which is high in lactose, lower in fat and protein, and does not replace the biological mother’s milk. (F)

Source: Eluniverso

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