Regarding the health of our beloved feline companions, it is only natural for pet owners to be concerned about potential illnesses.
Concerning human-animal interaction, the transmission of diseases between humans and their furry companions is a constant concern.
While we know that humans can contract diseases from cats, the question remains: can cats catch stomach bugs from humans?
This question becomes particularly relevant when considering the fundamental differences in humans’ and cats’ digestive systems and immune responses.
As a pet parent, you need to know the possibility of transmission of stomach bugs from humans to cats to know the extent to which your pets may be vulnerable and how to prevent it.
Can Cats Catch Stomach Bugs From Humans?
While it is possible for cats to catch stomach bugs from humans, it is not common. Cats have different physiological systems and immune responses than humans, making them less susceptible to certain human illnesses.
What Is Gastroenteritis?
Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the stomach and intestines, commonly called stomach flu. It causes symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes fever.
What Causes Gastroenteritis In Cats?
Gastroenteritis in cats can be caused by various factors, each with its own symptoms and treatment options.
As a pet owner, you must understand the underlying causes of stomach flu to provide appropriate care for your feline.
- Infections – They can be bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic. These infections can transmit through contaminated food or water or direct contact with infected animals. Cats with weakened immune systems are particularly susceptible to these infections.
- Intussusception – Occurs when a section of the intestine telescopes into itself, causing a blockage and often leading to severe abdominal pain.
- Tumors/cancers – These growths can disrupt the normal functioning of the digestive system, leading to vomiting, weight loss, and changes in bowel movements. Treatment options for these cases may include surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
- Pancreatic, liver, or kidney disease – Dysfunction in vital organs like the pancreas, liver, or kidneys can influence a cat’s digestion.
- Poisoning – Exposure to toxins can also result in gastroenteritis in cats. Ingestion of plants or cleaning agents that are toxic to cats can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
- Foreign objects – When ingested, these objects can become lodged in the intestinal tract, causing blockages and inflammation. It can lead to abdominal pain and constipation. Prompt medical intervention is necessary to remove the foreign body and prevent further complications.
- Endocrine diseases – Underlying endocrine disorders like diabetes or hyperthyroidism can indirectly affect a cat’s gastrointestinal health.
Diagnosis Of Gastroenteritis
When diagnosing gastroenteritis in cats, veterinarians perform a series of tests to eliminate as many possible causes as possible.
Cat owners must provide detailed information about their cat’s diet and medical history to aid in this process. Key details to share include:
- A dietary record of everything your cat consumed or drank within the last 48 hours is essential.
- Recent interactions with new animals or individuals
- Any recent introduction of new foods, treats, or rewards.
- Any medications or supplements administered to your cat in the past month.
- Inform your vet about potential exposure to pesticides, medications, cleaning agents, or similar substances.
- Any prior instances of vomiting and diarrhea
- Information about your cat’s pre-existing chronic illnesses.
The information you have provided will help the veterinary conduct a comprehensive physical examination to assess its overall health.
During this examination, the vet will carefully observe your cat for any signs of dehydration, abdominal pain, tenderness, bloating, gas, swellings, or any other physical abnormality that may indicate an underlying issue.
In addition to this, your cat’s temperature and vital signs, such as heart and respiratory rates, will be checked to ensure they are within the normal range.
To further investigate the cause of your cat’s symptoms, the veterinarian will most likely perform a series of diagnostic tests.
These tests may include a complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile to pinpoint the specific issue affecting your cat.
For instance, if a bacterial infection is the cause, a complete blood count test will show an elevated level of white blood cells, indicating an immune response to the infection. This information can guide the vet in determining the appropriate treatment plan for your cat.
Treatment Of Gastroenteritis
The treatment of gastroenteritis in cats varies depending on the condition’s underlying cause. When a cat is severely dehydrated or experiencing an electrolyte imbalance due to vomiting and diarrhea, the first step is stabilizing them.
Once the cat is stable, the next step is to identify and treat the underlying cause of the gastroenteritis.
If the cause is bacterial, parasitic, pancreatitis, or hyperthyroidism, appropriate medications will be prescribed to address these specific conditions.
However, it’s important to note that viral infections have no cure, and the best course of action is to wait until the infection passes.
In some cases, gastroenteritis may be caused by a blockage in the intestines. If this is the cause, surgery may be necessary to remove the obstruction and alleviate the symptoms.
One important aspect of treatment is to stop diarrhea and vomiting before administering any medication.
This ensures that the cat’s system is stable enough to handle the medication and allows for better absorption of the drugs.
Preventing Gastrointestinal Problems in Cats?
Preventing gastrointestinal problems in cats is crucial for maintaining their health and well-being. You can take several steps to ensure your feline companion has a healthy digestive system.
- Introduce new foods, treats, or medications slowly to prevent sudden changes that could upset the cat’s stomach.
- Administering regular parasitic prevention treatments to ward off various internal and external parasites
- Keep items that cats shouldn’t eat out of reach.
- Go for regular fecal screenings and blood work to detect diseases and spot parasitic problems early on.
- Regular vet visits for early detection of gastrointestinal concerns.
Other Illnesses That Humans Can Spread To Cats
While we often focus on diseases that cats can pass onto humans, it is equally important to recognize that there are certain illnesses that humans can inadvertently spread to their feline companions. Let’s have a look at some of them.
Ringworm – Despite its misleading name, it is actually a fungal infection that can affect the skin, hair, and nails of humans and animals. Cats with ringworm may develop circular patches of hair loss or scaly skin.
To address this issue, you need to seek veterinary care and follow the prescribed treatment plan, which may include topical antifungal medications and thorough cleaning of the cat’s environment.
Salmonella – Salmonella is a bacterial infection that can affect cats through contaminated food or contact with infected humans.
Cats may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Avoid feeding raw or undercooked food and ensure proper hand hygiene after handling food to prevent transmission.
Strep – Similarly, cats can contract a Strep infection from humans. However, this occurrence is not widely acknowledged within the veterinary community.
Giardia infection – Giardia is a parasitic infection that can be transmitted from humans to cats through contaminated water or surfaces.
It leads to gastrointestinal issues in cats, including diarrhea. Regularly disinfecting living spaces and avoiding contaminated water sources can help prevent its spread.
Smoking-related diseases – Secondhand smoke exposure can increase the risk of respiratory issues in cats, such as asthma and lung cancer.
To protect our pets from smoking-related diseases, avoid smoking around them and create a smoke-free environment for their well-being.
Influenza – Although there have been a few isolated cases of cats contracting flu viruses from humans, these occurrences are rare and not commonly observed.
However, it is important to note that flu viruses can mutate frequently, which means there is a potential risk for cats in the future.
Staph – Staph-resistant bacterial infections, such as methicillin-resistant Staph aureus (MRSA), can potentially affect both humans and cats.
While these infections are relatively rare in cats, they can occur. Some common symptoms of these infections in cats may include wounds that fail to heal or unusual skin rashes.
If your cat is diagnosed with a staph-resistant bacterial infection, treatment will involve administering specially prescribed antibiotics after performing a culture.
Cats can catch certain illnesses from humans, but it doesn’t often occur due to different immune responses and physiology systems.
However, taking precautions when you are sick is still important to prevent the spread of any potential germs to your feline friend.
This includes practicing good hygiene, such as washing your hands regularly and avoiding close contact with your cat when feeling unwell.
Additionally, it is always a good idea to consult a veterinarian if you have concerns about your cat’s health.