Zoonotic Diseases: Cats

A zoonotic disease is any infection that can be transmitted between humans and animals, either from direct contact, indirect contact, or shared environmental exposure.

Pet dogs, cats and rabbits pose a minimal zoonotic risk to their human companions. Your risk may be slightly higher if you have a compromised immune system from disease or medication, such as people:

  • with AIDS/HIV
  • on chemotherapy or receiving radiation therapy
  • who are elderly or have chronic diseases
  • with congenital immune deficiencies
  • who have received organ or bone marrow transplants
  • that are pregnant

Altogether, well over a hundred diseases are capable of being transmitted from animals to humans, although most are rare in North America. All domestic animals including dogs, cats, birds, horses, cows, sheep, goats and rabbits can potentially spread diseases to people.

If pet owners exercise basic hygiene principles, especially hand washing, and avoiding contact with their pet’s stool, most of these potential diseases can be avoided. We have links below for some of the more common zoonotic diseases in cats.