As cat moms, there is nothing that can beat the love that you feel for your feline. For a lot of people, their cat is just like a child to them, and there is nothing worse than seeing your child unwell. This is no different if the child who is unwell is a cat.
In most cases, cats are healthy animals. They very rarely get sick, but that doesn’t mean that they are immune from viruses and infections. One illness that cats can often suffer from is known as cat flu, which can be very unpleasant but is it contagious?
If you are caring for a cat that is suffering with cat flu, you might be worried that you could catch the infection off of them, but humans cannot catch cat flu. In this guide, we’ll tell you exactly what cat flu is and why it cannot be transmitted to humans.
What is cat flu?
Before we talk about transmission of this illness to humans, let’s quickly establish exactly what cat flu is. Just like flu in humans, cat flu isn’t a term for a specific illness which cats can get, instead it is a term generally used for a couple of different viruses which cats can suffer with.
In humans, the flu is a shortened name for the influenza virus which they experience, but ‘cat flu’ isn’t actually an influenza virus. Instead, cat flu is a name given to 2 different strains of viruses which cats can often suffer with. Both of these viruses are exclusive to cats and cannot be transmitted to humans, so there is no need to be worried if you are caring for a cat suffering with cat flu.
As we have said, cat flu isn’t actually a virus, instead it is an everyday term for two viruses which cats commonly suffer with. These viruses are: feline herpes and feline calicivirus. Symptoms of these viruses include coughing, sneezing which are common symptoms of human flu, hence the name.
Cat Flu can be dangerous, but as long as your cat is fully vaccinated and kept hydrated they will recover from this illness quickly.
Can humans catch cat flu?
As we have said, no humans cannot catch cat flu. There are some diseases which can be transmitted from felines to humans, but the diseases covered under the ‘cat flu’ term are not part of this category.
First, let’s take a look at feline herpes. Herpes is, of course, a disease which can be experienced by human beings and dogs as well as cats, however depending on the species, the virus differs. This is why humans cannot catch feline herpes, because the strain of the virus which cats experience is exclusive to this species.
So if your cat has cat flu, you don’t have to worry about you or your dog catching it. But if you own another cat, this infection can be spread among the felines in your home.
Similarly, feline calicivirus is exclusive to felines. This virus can be serious for your cat, and it can make them very unwell, but generally it clears after a month. While you are caring for your cat, there is no need to worry about catching this respiratory infection off of them as this virus cannot be transmitted to any species other than felines. So while it could make your other cats unwell, this disease cannot be caught by humans.
Can a human get sick from a cat?
Even though cat flu cannot be transmitted to humans, this doesn’t mean that humans are immune to all viruses and diseases which cats suffer from. In fact, it is very common for cat owners to pick up illnesses from their cat.
You might think that you are likely to catch an illness off of your cat if they are unwell, and you are caring for them. But it is much more common for humans to catch illnesses off of cats which are seemingly in good health. This is because humans and cats are two different species, and so they deal with germs differently.
There are a lot of germs which cats carry without experiencing any illness or sickness. But because of the differences in immune systems between cats and humans, these germs can actually cause humans to become unwell. The best way to avoid picking up any germs off of your cat is to keep them clean and healthy, and to regularly visit the vets.
During a regular check up, your vet will be able to detect any germs that your cat could be unknowingly carrying. Even if these germs are not causing any harm to your cat, they could potentially be harmful for you, so it is best to catch them as soon as possible.
What feline diseases can be transmitted to humans?
Some diseases are exclusive to the feline species, but there are many diseases that can cross over from cats to their owners. Not only can these diseases crossover to humans, but they can also be passed onto dogs and other species too.
If you have an unwell cat, one main point of concern when it comes to caring for them is that you could become unwell too. The list of diseases which are exclusive to cats is much larger than the list of diseases that can be passed on to humans, but there are quite a few which can affect humans just as much as cats.
The majority of these diseases are passed onto humans during the process of cleaning up cat feces. However, they can also be passed on by stroking your cat, or grooming them.
Some common diseases that can be transmitted from cats to humans include:
- Cat Tapeworm
- Cat Scratch Disease
- And more…
In short, while cats can pass some diseases onto their owners, cat flu is not one of these diseases.
So if your cat is suffering from feline herpes or feline calicivirus, there is no need to worry about potentially catching it while you nurse your cat back to good health.