Cat urine contains a small amount of potent-smelling ammonia. In small amounts, ammonia can be irritating but is generally harmless. This natural chemical is present in air, soil, animals and humans. Ammonia is responsible for the breakdown of proteins and necessary for decomposition. But if swallowed or if a large amount is inhaled, ammonia is toxic.
Leptospirosis can be transferred to humans from the urine of a diseased animal, such as a cat or rat. This rare disease, which is more likely to affect those in underdeveloped countries, can be treated successfully.
A common symptom from exposure to a small amount of ammonia is irritation to the lungs, skin, eyes, nose and throat. Children may be more sensitive to the adverse affect of ammonia in cat urine, but everyone, especially those with asthma, should limit their contact with this known irritant. Clean a cat litter box regularly.
Male cats are more likely to spray, leaving their scent and marking their territory, but female cats in heat may also spray. This can be a hard habit to break and may require early neutering or spaying, at an age advised by your veterinarian, to ease the problem.
Leptospirosis is a seldom-transferred bacteria found in the urine of an infected cat. This disease can enter the bloodstream through a small cut or by drinking or swimming in water which has been infected by a diseased animal. This disease is not generally airborne. Leptospirosis is more common in underdeveloped countries without safe drinking water.
If a cat is diagnosed with leptospirosis, the risks are few, but for the first few weeks of treatment the animal should be kept apart from other animals and any bodily fluids washed up with disinfectants.
A wide range of antibiotics for people and pets are available to treat leptospirosis. The outlook for recovery is good as long as the course of antibiotics is completed and a healthy diet is maintained.
Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease linked to the exposure of feline faeces and is proven to cause developmental harm and even death to an unborn baby. For this reason, a pregnant woman should not handle a cat litter box and should talk to her doctor about any related concerns. Toxoplasmosis can also affect someone with a suppressed immune system.
Cat lovers can use precaution to protect themselves from cat-related illnesses or irritations, promoting a healthy home for both animals and people with a few standard practices:
Change the cat litter and sanitise the litter box regularly. A cat will not use a dirty litter box, therefore prompting it to find another place in the home to relieve itself.
Open windows daily to improve the air quality in a home with indoor pets.
Wash children's hands with soap and water after playing with animals, outdoors and in a sandbox. A child's sandbox should be covered when not in use. A sandbox, to a cat, is just a big litter box.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after cleaning up cat faeces, cleaning out the cat litter box and gardening. The garden is where many cats, besides your own, do their urinating and fecal business when outdoors.
A cat with an illness or bladder problem may begin to urinate everywhere. A visit to the vet may be in order if a cat has begun to urinate all around the house, seems to be in pain while urinating and/or has blood in the urine.
Wash with soap and water immediately if bitten or scratched by a cat.
Vaccinate your cat.