How are Zoonotic Diseases Spread?

Zoonoses can be spread through a variety of means including:
Vectors (i.e. mosquitoes or ticks)

Examples of Common Cat-Associated Zoonoses

There are a large number of zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted by or associated with cats. Some of the more common zoonoses associated with cats include:
- Anthrax (Bacillus anthracisa)
- Bartonella (Bartonella species)
- Lyme Disease (borrelia burgdorferi)
- Diphtheria (Corynebacterium diphtheria)
- Strep (Group A streptococcus)
- Listeria (Listeria monocytogenes)
- Cat flea typhus (rickettsia felis)
- Salmonella (Salmonella species)


Ectoparasites: Hairclasping mite (cheyletiella blakei)
- Itch mite (sarcoptes scabiei)


- Hookworm (Ancylostoma braziliense)
- Heartworm (Ancylostoma tubaeforme)
- Threadworm (Dirofilaria immitis)
- Northern hookworm (Uncinaria stenocephala)


Protozoans: Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii)


- Rabies

Prevention of Cat-Associated Zoonoses

Some cat-associated zoonoses, such as rabies, are preventable through vaccination.

Others can be prevented or eliminated through regular testing by your veterinarian and deworming.

Establish a relationship with your veterinarian, and follow their recommendations for vaccinations and preventive health care, which can help to minimize many zoonotic risks.

Discuss any human-related healthcare concerns with your veterinarian who can help to liaise with your healthcare provider, especially if you are aware of any potential immunocompromised individuals within your household.

Finally, good hygiene should always be maintained around pets.

Wash your hands with soap and water after petting cats, cleaning food or water bowls, and after scooping litter.

Stray cats are best handled only by appropriately trained professionals.

Thorough preventive care, it is possible to decrease the risk of exposure to many of these zoonoses.

Many zoonotic diseases that can be carried by cats are more commonly carried by people; in that respect, disease is more likely to be transmitted from another person than a cat.

Contributed by Dr. Lauren Demos, BVMS, HonsBSc

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