Following reports of a recent study raising concerns about zoonotic diseases (from the Department of Veterinary Preventive Medicine at Ohio State University), Maggie Roberts, Cats Protection’s Director of Veterinary Services, said:
“As a charity that has many unwanted cats in need of new homes, Cats Protection is concerned that raising fears about infections being transmitted from pets to humans may discourage people from adopting a cat or encourage owners to unnecessarily give up their pets.
The risk of these diseases from animals has been known about for years so we don’t believe the research reveals anything new. In fact the biggest source of infection to humans is other humans.
With regard to doctors not taking the risks seriously, they are unlikely to have these diseases at the forefront of their minds as the risk of infection is usually very low. However, infection is more likely to occur in people whose immune systems are compromised and if sensible hygiene precautions are not followed.
As for cats, the disease that worries many people is toxoplasmosis but studies show that cat owners are statistically no more likely to contract it than non-cat owners and it is more likely to come from handling raw meat. Another common concern for cat owners is fleas which can easily be reduced by regular vet checks and parasite control.
It has long been known that owning a pet can help lower blood pressure and lessen anxiety so Cats Protection believes these benefits outweigh the small risk of infection which can easily be managed by taking sensible precautions – such as practising good food hygiene, discouraging face licking and wearing gloves when gardening and cleaning out litter trays.”