Can a (possibly stray) cat make my dog sick?
February 4, 2011 5:33 AM   Subscribe

Can a (possibly stray) cat make my dog sick?

My beagle has become BFF with an orange and white cat that hangs out in our neighbors' yard. Every night we take our dog out to do her business. The cat hears us, comes over from the neighbors' yard and rubs up on my dog's face the way cats do - awwww. My dog will do some sniffing (as beagles do) and then generally move on.

A few nights ago, my husband mentioned that the cat was coughing and sounded wheezy. It looks healthy enough to me (unmatted fur, clear eyes from what I can tell), but I'm no cat expert. This got us thinking though: Is there any potential for this cat to make our dog sick through contact?

Our dog is current on all of her vaccines. We're certain the cat doesn't belong to the neighbors (they own a white outdoor cat), but we're unsure if it's a stray or if it's an outdoor cat that belongs to someone else in the neighborhood. It has no collar.
posted by geeky to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
IANAV, but I have fostered 100+ of sick cats and dogs, and I haven't seen anything to indicate it happens. I would routinely bring strays from the animal shelter home and they would predictably have caught something from the shelter -- some of my own cats got sick (from the other cats), but my own dogs did not (and my dogs weren't vaccinated when I started fostering). I'm sure there are diseases/viruses that cross species, but the most common ones never did it at my house.

Being a cat person at heart, I am now concerned about your coughing, sneezing stray . . . If there's a feral cat program in your area, I would see if it were possible to get it fixed & vaccinated. At the very least, if you should find yourself leaving food out for it, you can crush up 1/2 an L-Lysine tablet (from the human vitamin section, it's tasteless) and sprinkle it on the food -- it slows the growth of the virus that's [probably] making it sneeze and cough.
posted by MeiraV at 6:06 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]

I also have fostered stray cats before -- one of which was quite ill. My vet at the time wasn't concerned about the dog the sick stray cat had come in contact with so long as the dog was up to date on shots.

The potentially transmittable ick from cats to dogs are fleas/parasites. Make sure your pup is up to date on flea meds but I think you'll be ok.

I'm not a vet or an expert.
posted by countrymod at 6:14 AM on February 4, 2011

Two other optional vaccines where that cat could have given your dog cooties are bordatella (kennel cough but it only covers certain strains. Our dogs are vaccinated and went into boarding and got some horrible cough thing that cost $300 to fix).

And leptospirosis---which can come from "wild" animals.

I would investigage with your vet if those two are a possibility. And if your dog is not vaccinated for either, I would start doing so, espec. lepto (if you're choosing one of them).

Good luck.
posted by stormpooper at 6:34 AM on February 4, 2011

I'm no vet, but if you think about it, dogs, by their very nature, are exposed to hundreds of disease vectors every day, including other animals like this stray cat. Yet most dogs seem to be able to resist disease and infection.

So your dog is protected by his dogginess (I think being cooped up in a kennel with sick animals is another kettle of fish), but also, when compared to this stray, because of his "lifestyle".

Compared to the cat, your dog has a powerful immune system. He gets fed well, and gets to spend most of his time indoors in a clean, warm environment.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:48 AM on February 4, 2011

I know that ringworm (a fungal skin infection) is transmissible among dogs, cats, and humans.

This obviously isn't what your local orange cat has going on, but it's a truly yucky condition and I include it here for the sake of completeness. Apparently it can linger in the environment, waiting to infect anew, for almost two years. Get those patchy pets in treatment!
posted by amtho at 10:00 AM on February 4, 2011

I would worry about fleas and ticks rather than any specific diseases that cats get, most of those will stay with cats and are not transmissible. Make sure your dog is on a flea and tick medicine. Advantix is unsafe for cats and should not be used in homes with cats so if you want to be especially nice to the stray bff don't use it.
posted by boobjob at 11:24 AM on February 4, 2011

Thanks for the answers!

MeiraV - I haven't seen or heard any coughing or sneezing from the cat myself. It's possible it may have just had a hairball. My question was more of a hypothetical one. The cat looks plenty well fed and appears healthy, which is why we have doubts about it being a stray. There are a lot of people in our neighborhood with outdoor cats and I would hate to meddle with their pet without good reason. If it does ever seem really ill, I won't hesitate to take it to a rescue or vet.

stormpooper - Our dog is up to date on her Bordatella vaccinations. (We got her from a shelter and despite having the vaccine, she came down with kennel cough anyway and we ended up at the emergency vet. Not fun.)
posted by geeky at 11:24 AM on February 4, 2011

Definitely leptospirosis. Make sure your dog is covered for that.
posted by bolognius maximus at 12:07 PM on February 4, 2011

« Older Give me examples of web services that make...   |   Tumblr 'likes' via RSS Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.