Cats and scalps
July 3, 2012 9:41 AM   Subscribe

Am I going to suffer horribly for using a comb (that I washed) after I used it on my cat?

Yeaaaah, I used my comb on one of my cats the other day (the one on the right, because the one on the left doesn't shed his weight in fur on the regular). Today I thought, "I want my comb back", so I covered it with dishwashing liquid and rinsed it off in medium-hot water. Then I combed my hair. THEN, because I have the frigging OCD, my brain said "NOW YOU WILL DIIIIIIIEEE". Great. I love my stupid brain.

So, this is not a big deal, right? It's just my brain being its usual ridiculous self?

(To get the obvious out of the way: I am on medication for my OCD. It's a lot better than it used to be, but I still have stuff like this pop up. I can't afford therapy in any way, shape, or form right now --and I'm still pissed at my last therapist for implying I'm not fit to breed. But I usually can talk myself out of these spikes if I get a little rational help.)

Thanks ahead of time, for your tolerance!
posted by Coatlicue to Pets & Animals (18 answers total)
Reassurance-seeking isn't the best method for dealing with OCD, as you probably know, but.

I assume you touch your cat occasionally. You're fine. You probably didn't even really need to wash your comb, so you're more than fine. And I hope you can get some therapy soon!
posted by editrixx at 9:43 AM on July 3, 2012

Well, I have not died after having my cat groom my head extensively with her tongue - I think sharing a washed comb is far, far down the list from that.

Seriously, though, I can't think of anything that might happen that wouldn't be solved with your next shower. And soap and water on the comb itself has probably already taken care of that.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:44 AM on July 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

You are fine. Even without washing, I wouldn't be too worried. But this is no problem.

On preview, editrixx said it better!
posted by rubbish bin night at 9:44 AM on July 3, 2012

I don't know if this will help, but some days I come home from work and there's a cat sleeping on my pillow.

You cat has touched more stuff than just your comb. Trust me. But try not to think about it too much.
posted by rtha at 9:44 AM on July 3, 2012 [3 favorites]

You're going to be okay. There are very few zoonotic diseases/pests that can be passed between cat and human. Further, the comb was clean and you (hopefully!) don't have open sores on your scalp.

I think you're right, your brain is just being silly. Lots of internet hugs.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 9:44 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I sometimes comb my cat with my comb. I'm not dead yet.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:51 AM on July 3, 2012

A few months ago I walked into my bathroom to find my cat sitting on the counter and blissfully gnawing on the head of my toothbrush. I have no idea if that was the first time she's done that. I know it's the last because now I stow my toothbrush in a drawer.

Still not dead.
posted by jamaro at 9:59 AM on July 3, 2012 [17 favorites]

My cat sleeps on my pillow, wrapped around my head. I am still alive.
posted by something something at 10:05 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


What is it you are imagining would hurt you in this instance? I don't have OCD nor do I know what appropriate self-talk is in this scenario, but what could possibly harm you by sharing a comb with the cat?

For the record, I have six cats, some of them often sleep on my head, I routinely use whatever comb is available to comb them *and* myself and I have not come to harm from any of these practices.
posted by crankylex at 10:05 AM on July 3, 2012

You have my personal guarantee that even if you hadn't washed the comb this could cause you absolutely no harm of any kind. You pet the cat, right? Same stuff under your hair as what's on your hand. Cats are clean and nice.
posted by nanojath at 10:16 AM on July 3, 2012

You're already sharing a home with the cat and commingling your dander. You're fine.
posted by SillyShepherd at 10:28 AM on July 3, 2012

My cat prefers (and will demand) to be groomed with my own wooden-bristle hairbrush. I'm still fine.
posted by noxetlux at 10:37 AM on July 3, 2012

You guys are great.

Lord, I know that it isn't cool to seek reassurance for OCD. 99% of the time, I don't. But my medicine dosage was lowered, and then raised again recently. That always makes me lose my shit for a while, until I get used to the new levels. Medicine is a godsend, though.

I'm fine with my cats getting everywhere, despite that I'm a little allergic to them. The gray one accidentally claws me whenever he tries to love me, and that doesn't bother me. The Siamese-y cat won't rest each day until she has put her butt on everything we own, and that's cool. But then ye olde brain speaks up, "Say, don't you realize that DOOM AWAITS?"

crankylex: It's hard to say why I get spooked by what I do. A lot of my OCD disease fears stem from the fact that I helped care for a dying beloved uncle when I was a kid, who got a couple of terrible diagnoses out of the ether, from speculated causes that no one could have predicted. I had a good therapist once who told me that my self-talk is actually pretty decent, but that the situation with my uncle was formative enough that I'll be working on it for a loooong time.

I love my fam, but they didn't have to pass these OCD genes on to me. I hope I can get therapy soon, too. This crap is stupid.
posted by Coatlicue at 10:41 AM on July 3, 2012

My Siamese-y kitty Eartha has to rub on everything in the house, every day, or the sun will not rise nor will it set. (Kitty OCD). Malcolm, the black kitty, will groom my hair with his teeth, tongue and claws (does this make me sick that I think it's adorable and that I look forward to it?)

So between cat being rubbed on everything and cat being gnawed into my head, I'm just fine, and so are the cats.

Obligatory kitty picture.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 10:53 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

My daughter occasionally brushes her hair with the cat's hairbrush. She has done so for many years (she is frankly a little bit feral, that daughter-o-mine). And yet, she has the most sickeningly gorgeous hair I've ever seen in my life. When she puts it up in a ponytail, it's about the same diameter as my forearm.


But they clearly, clearly have done no harm.
posted by drlith at 11:05 AM on July 3, 2012

One of the things I miss most about my kitty, who is staying with a family member temporarily, is how he kneeds my hair while I'm trying to sleep. He's an outdoor kitty too, so it's several times more likely he's got gross stuff on him somewhere. I'm not dead! I don't think there is much risk of doom!
posted by pajamazon at 11:21 AM on July 3, 2012

As has been said, there are very few diseases that can transport between kitties and humans. I am personally not aware of one that could be transported from the kitty's hair to your hair (and I have a cat and health anxiety).

Probably the most common thing transported from cats to humans is toxoplasma gondii, which generally travels to humans from cat feces (from say cleaning out a litterbox). Toxo is generally considered harmless (unless you're pregnant), though (albeit nascent) research is showing that sometimes if can cause or exacerbate certain mental illnesses. Something like half the world, however, has toxo and very few are actually bothered by it. It's in fact more common to get it through handling raw or undercooked meat.

My kitty grooms me and licks my face and cuddles me all night long and I love it and have no worries. And hell, in some bizzaro world where I did get something from my cat, the risk is worth it. Death by cuddles is not such a bad way to go!

(but seriously, pretty much absolutely nothing bad can happen to you from sharing a comb with your cat - even if you don't wash it).
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:28 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ringworm can be transmitted through this type of contact, but is usually very visible on the cat. Is your kitty's skin and fur OK? No unexplained bald patches? Then you'll probably be fine. (Ringworm is totally treatable anyhow.)
posted by Perodicticus potto at 11:12 PM on July 3, 2012

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