Is it safe to kiss a cat?
Most cat owners who I know admit to kissing their cat. It seems perfectly normal among cat lovers, but non-cat people (not to mention my mother) seem to balk at the idea. But the question is, is it safe to kiss your cat?
If you have a healthy immune system and your cat is free of disease and parasites then the odd peck is unlikely to cause you any harm (although there is a small chance).
Who should not kiss their cat?
- Young children
- Pregnant women
- Immunocompromised people
Cats and humans can become infected with common bacteria such as Pasteurella, Staphylococcus, E. coli, and Salmonella. All of which are highly contagious. Ringworm is a common fungal infection that easily spread from cats to humans and vice versa via direct contact.
There is research to suggest that cats contain certain bacteria in their mouths that cause gum disease. Not only can gum disease lead to loss of teeth, but it has a greater impact on the organs. A peck on the head is just as enjoyable and carries less risk of transmission of disease. Also, cats have scent glands on their temples, cheeks, lips and chin which secrete feel-good pheromones when they rub on objects (such as the sofa, doors, YOU), and a kiss from their human companion may be seen by your cat a similar demonstration of affection and ownership as the cat would display to you.
Cats can stimulate the immune system
Research indicates that children living with pets have lower rates of allergies. Much debate surrounds children growing up in increasingly sterile environments, with the use of modern hand sanitisers and disinfectants. A child’s immune system needs to be challenged in order to develop. Living with pets from the first year of life can decrease the rate of allergies in children. Their immune system is exposed to various bacteria and viruses from your pet that they wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to which stimulate the immune system. This helps it to develop in a healthy manner instead of turning on itself and developing allergies. It is interesting to note that pets may actually help to strengthen immunity and/or reduce allergies. Not that we are in any way suggesting your child kiss a pet to do this.
Always use caution your face close to a cat, especially one you don’t know or a cat who is agitated. Make sure you treat your cat regularly and is up to date on his vaccinations.
So, if you want to give your cat a quick peck then as long as you have a healthy immune system and your cat is disease-free then there really is no reason why not. Immunocompromised people (such as those with HIV, undergoing cancer treatment), and young children should not kiss cats.