A disease that can transfer from a cat to a human is known as a zoonotic disease.
There are four exposure points through which cats can spread diseases to humans:
- bites and saliva
- contact with skin
It is unlikely that a member of the public would contract a zoonotic disease from a well-managed assistance cat for these reasons:
- A highly-trained cat is unlikely to go to the toilet in public, so members of the public will not come into contact with faeces.
- A cat chosen for its calm temperament that has been desensitised to everyday stimulus is unlikely to bite or scratch a member of the public.
- Fleas, scabies, roundworms, hookworms, and ringworms are passed through contact with skin. However, risk is unlikely if the cat is receiving regular flea and worming treatment.
- Zoonotic Disease: What Can I Catch from My Cat? (College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University)
- Overcoming Fears with Desensitization and Counterconditioning (VCA Hospitals)
- Cats (CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Zoonoses Associated with Cats (Washington State University)