The old saying goes that if you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas.
But if you lie down with cats, you may wake up with something much worse.
A new survey by a pet insurance company from the UK has experts worried.
Animal Friends surveyed 2,000 people and found half of them let their pets share a bed with them.
And that's not the only way people are letting their pets invade their personal space.
Cozying Up With The Cat
A fifth of people who responded let their pets eat off their plates!
Other survey questions revealed that owners are not as strict as they should be about their pet's personal hygiene.
Researchers warn behavior like this could make you and your pet very sick.
Ideally, most pet owners should wash their pets once a month, wash their pet's bed every two weeks, and wash their food and water bowls every day.
If you don't do all this, you're not alone. When it comes to washing your pet's bed - the easiest way to keep them from getting fleas - only 30% of people surveyed say they do it regularly.
All this may seem like a lot of fuss over nothing, but bad pet hygiene can make you sick, especially if you own cats.
Avoid Cat Napping
Cats can spread salmonella, parasites, fungal infections, and even the bird flu to your family. That's why it's important to mind your pet's hygiene and stick to a thorough cleaning routine.
Salmonella and campylobacter, two of the most common bacteria spread by cats, can cause flu-like symptoms in humans, and sometimes fatal infections.
Everywhere your cat goes, it drags bacteria, drool, dirt, and kitty litter with it. So it's a smart idea to make your bed the one place that's off-limits for your pet.
Along with keeping your pet's environment in tiptop shape and keeping your distance from them during meals, the Centers for Disease Control actually recommend washing your hands every time you touch your cat, their drool, or their litter box.
Be especially careful to wash before preparing meals after playtime with your pet.
Finally, experts warn about one other "high risk" activity: letting your cat lick your lips.
That's a good way to spread pasteurella bacteria from mouth to mouth, which can cause painful skin infections.
While it's healthy to be a little wary of your cat, don't freak out. The CDC says bugs spread from pets to humans are rare, and that healthy animals have a very low risk.
Still, it pays to wash your pet's bedding more often - at least as often as you wash your own sheets.
If the fear of catching salmonella isn't enough to kick your cat out of bed, here's one more thing to worry about: they can stop you from getting a good night's rest!
Do you let your cat sleep in your bed? Has this post changed your mind? Let us know!
Here are more surprising pet stories:
- Your pet can give blood too, and donations are badly needed.
- Petition asks to make pet food qualify for food stamps.
- She tested the hotel's pet-friendly policy - by bringing a horse.
[H/T: Daily Mirror, NBC, Huffpost]