Cats on Human Health

Cats typically weigh less than ten pounds. However, domesticated house cats inflict a disproportionately high percentage of injury to humans. In the USA, cats accounted to about 400,000 bites per year, that is close to ten percent of all animal bites. Many of these bites will become infected, albeit not seriously, but some may develop into cat-scratch disease, or, occasionally, rabies. About 50% of cats are infected with toxoplasma parasite which is responsible for toxoplasmosis disease. Individuals with weakened immune system and pregnant women or women hope to get pregnant in the near future should be cautious with cats as both toxoplasmosis and cat-scratch disease can bring about serious complications. Physicians usually caution pregnant women from handling soiled cat litter for these reasons.

Roughly ten percent of the U.S. population has some forms of pet allergy with cats being the most likely causes. Contrary to the common thought of the fur or hair as the main culprits of allergy, it is actually the proteins in the cat’s dander (flakes of skin), saliva, and urine that people are allergic to. Allergy is a reaction of a person’s immune system kicking into high gear to defense the body from misinterpreted threats, like cat dander or cat saliva, in relation to cat allergy. Symptoms of allergy can be skin rash, asthma (coughing, wheezing), hay fever, red and/or itchy eyes, runny and/or itchy nose. While most pet owners are able to acclimate themselves to other pets, cat allergy seems to be the hardest to overcome. Some cat lovers opt to take allergy medicine rather than giving up living with cats. Bathing cats frequently to minimize dander is another approach to deal with cat allergy.

Despite the downsides of owning a cat, interactions with cats bring forward much health benefits too. Multiple studies have shown that close association with cat improve both mental and physical health. Their companionship and friendship enhance a sense of worthiness, help to dispel the feeling of anxiety, depression, and loneliness, comparable to a human partner. Many cat owners swear that their cats purring and head butting are their secret weapon against stress at the end of busy days and very good for their blood pressure control and hearts. Several studies have shown that cats appreciate and love their owners, provided time and effort are put in by the owners to develop bonding and friendship.