Can a Human Get Conjunctivitis from a Cat? Pink Eye Explained

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can a human get conjunctivitis from a cat

Can a human get conjunctivitis from a cat? Although humans can get conjunctivitis, the bacteria that causes feline conjunctivitis can’t be passed to a person. However, practicing good hygiene would help ensure that the eye infection isn’t passed to other cats. 

Conjunctivitis, or “pink eye,” is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the eye’s outer membrane and inner eyelid. It can be passed from cats to other cats through contact with secretions from their eyes, nose, and mouth. Feline conjunctivitis is caused by a slightly different bacteria to the one that creates the eye infection in humans.

This article will answer the question, ‘can a human get conjunctivitis from a cat? We’ll discuss how the infection spreads.

Can a human get conjunctivitis from a cat?

Symptoms of conjunctivitis in both cats and humans include redness and irritation of the eyes, watery eyes, discharge from the eyes, swollen eyelids, and sensitivity to light. If your cat has eye problems, you may also notice that he is squinting or rubbing the eye area with his paw. There may also be a clear or yellowish-green discharge from one or both eyes and tearing.

While humans and cats can suffer from conjunctivitis and other eye infections, they are caused by different bacteria and can’t be passed from one to the other. This means that you can’t catch conjunctivitis from your cat.

If you have multiple cats and one has an eye infection, you’ll need to practice good hygiene and wash beds, bowls, and grooming tools to ensure the bacteria isn’t spread to a healthy cat. 

Conjunctivitis is known as pink eye and is caused by the bacteria streptococci or staphylococci. It can also be caused by viruses such as feline viral rhinotracheitis or feline Chlamydophila, which also causes respiratory infections. Conjunctivitis has the following symptoms in cats: 

  • Redness and irritation of the eyes
  • Watery discharge from the eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Squinting and rubbing the eyes
  • Yellowish/green discharge
  • Respiratory infections can accompany conjunctivitis and cause sneezing and breathing difficulties

What to do if you think your cat has conjunctivitis?

If your cat has the above symptoms, he may be suffering from conjunctivitis. It’s important to take your pet to the vet immediately, even if your cat isn’t showing all the symptoms. Blocked tear ducts or allergies can cause similar symptoms to conjunctivitis and will also need veterinary attention.

Never use medications or creams designed to treat human conjunctivitis on an animal. Your vet can diagnose the cause and advise on appropriate treatment. They may prescribe antibiotics or other medications depending on the severity of the infection.

It is also important to remember that humans can’t catch conjunctivitis from cats, so although it’s recommended that you practice good hygiene, your family isn’t at risk of infection. Wash your hands after handling your cat, and avoid sharing items such as pillows or blankets with other healthy cats in the household.

Additionally, keep any areas where your cat sleeps clean and disinfect regularly. With early diagnosis and treatment, cats can recover from conjunctivitis quickly and without any long-term effects.

Non-infectious conjunctivitis

If your cat’s conjunctivitis is caused by a viral or bacterial infection, it can be passed on to other cats. There is also a non-infectious type of conjunctivitis or pink eye which is generally caused by allergens in the environment. 

Common allergens include:

  • Mold or dust
  • Smoke
  • Grass seeds and pollen
  • Harsh household cleaners
  • Air fresheners
  • Dust from cat litter

Can a human get conjunctivitis from a cat: Final thoughts

Conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is common in cats and is caused by various things. Bacterial conjunctivitis is contagious among felines but can’t be passed on to humans. It’s still a good idea to practice good hygiene, especially if you have more than one cat. Pink eye can also be caused by an allergen or tear duct problem, and these can’t be passed on to humans or other cats.

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