It is an old belief that cat hair is dangerous because it can be swallowed and cause serious illnesses. However, the idea that if you swallow hair it sticks to the esophagus or throat or to the internal organs is just a myth.
The debate is huge on this subject – there are mothers who say that cats have to be kept around children because they help a child’s healthy growth; others think cat hair is extremely dangerous for health.
So I researched the subject, and here’s what conclusions I got to about how dangerous cat hair is.
Like human hair, cat hair can be swallowed accidentally. In fact, any small and hardly noticeable items can be inadvertently ingested especially by children: lint, dust, hair, nail scraps, small fish bones etc.
Hair itself poses no danger because it is eliminated during digestion. It doesn’t attack the internal organs nor does it stick to the esophagus or the intestines. Although it may seem strange or disgusting, the truth is that we ingest hair often, especially if we have pets. No matter how much we clean our home, we can’t eliminate all risks, just as we can’t control everything that the baby accidentally swallows.
There is a case when the ingestion of a cat hair may be dangerous, due to certain parasites that live on hair and can cause diseases if they get into the body, such as the Echinococcus parasite. This parasite is carried by sick and unvaccinated animals that consume raw meat.
If your cat is vaccinated, stays indoors all the time and is only fed with special food, there is no risk of parasites being transmitted. If you have outdoor cats, however, the risk of coming in contact with the parasite is higher. A veterinary exam can be helpful to determine if your cats carry the disease.
Cat hair can also be dangerous for people who are allergic to mold or dust mites. Children’s allergies may be discovered early on and, in most cases, they can be treated successfully.
As a conclusion, cat hair is not dangerous by itself, but it can pose certain health risks.