Allergies and asthma
Up to 30 percent of people have some kind of allergic reaction to cats and dogs, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and allergies to cats are twice as common as reactions to dogs, experts say. Doctors recommend removing cats from the home if someone is allergic, but there are less drastic measures you can take to ease allergy and asthma suffering. By keeping your bedroom door closed and using a good HEPA filter, you can eliminate allergy and asthma triggers while you’re sleeping.
A threat to young children
Aynur_sib/ShutterstockThe old wives’ tale about cats sucking the life out of sleeping children isn’t rooted in fact, but it’s still a good idea to keep cats out of the rooms where babies sleep. Cribs are attractive napping spots for cats, given that they’re high up, protected on multiple sides, and soft. But a cat could inadvertently smother a sleeping child. Play it safe and keep the cat out.
Content continues below ad
Cats can be hard to evict
Pelagey/ShutterstockCats are creatures of habit, and they often don’t adapt well to changes in their environment. If you suddenly decide that you no longer want your cat to sleep in your bed, the animal might respond to the loss of their territory with destructive behavior, including scratching furniture and spraying. Experts recommend providing your cat with new toys to play with or a cat tree to climb at night to give them something else to focus on.
Parasites and fungal infections
Ahuli Labutin/ShutterstockWhen you share your bed with a cat, you’re also sharing a bed with any parasites the cat is harboring. And some of those parasites could make your life miserable. Fleas can’t live on people, but they do bite, leaving behind itchy welts. Similarly, cheyletiella mites can jump from cats to humans, causing an itchy rash. Feline intestinal parasites including roundworms and hookworms can also cause illness in people, which is transmitted through exposure to cat fecal matter.
Srdjan Randjelovic/ShutterstockSpending up to eight hours a night in close proximity to a cat means you’re likely getting some exposure to the animal’s secretions and excretions. While your odds of contracting an ailment from your cat are low, very young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are at greater risk. Around 25,000 people per year contract cat-scratch fever, a bacterial infection that can be fatal for those with weakened immunity. As the name suggests, cat-scratch disease, or bartonellosis, is transmitted through the scratch or bite of an infected cat. It causes swelling of the lymph nodes, fever, fatigue, muscle soreness, and other symptoms. The disease typically doesn’t have long-term health consequences, but it can linger in the body for several months after the initial infection. Salmonellosis is another bacterial infection that cats can transmit to people. Cats that spend part of their time outdoors may eat birds or small animals, and that puts them at risk for contracting it. Humans can become infected through contact with a sick cat’s feces. In humans, the illness causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain.
cryptosporidiosis, and toxoplasmosis are diseases that can be transmitted from cats to humans, though it is highly unlikely to become infected by direct contact with cats. To keep cats healthy, keep them indoors and schedule annual exams with your vet.