That's not the first question my cat made me ask on Pets.SE. One of them being this one 2 years ago. I couldn't convince my stepmother as, for her, it's either the cat in the house, either her in the house. Today we had another argument because she asks me to systematically wash my hands after I pet my cat. Since years, not only because of the general pandemic context.

I profoundly think she's wrong and that's ridiculous. Washing my hands when they are dirty would be better and not each time I pet my cat. That's what I think but maybe I'm wrong. I've search online and some people say you should but most of the time, people also say it is not right and can even be harmful if your hands are washed too often.

Am I right? And if so what should I do? My current solution is to wash my hands when I know she could be around and detect it. Be sometimes I forget and then she becomes really mad. Today's argument became very tough. I feel this is not truly my house anymore, after it's nearly not my cat's.

  • 1
    Can you tell us where you live? Could your cat come in contact with dangerous parasites or germs or things like that? Also, if you want to talk to your mother about the situation and how you feel about it, you could ask at IPS. Be aware that they have rules for their questions, just like we have here. Asking "What should I do?" is not allowed. Instead, ask about an interpersonal problem like "How do I make her understand?" or "How can I talk to her without fighting?". Read more in the help
    – Elmy
    May 19, 2020 at 6:03
  • I live in France, in Paris' suburb. Thank you for your suggestion, maybe I'll ask a question on IPS!
    – JKHA
    May 19, 2020 at 12:24
  • Is it an indoor-only cat, or does it go outside?
    – Allison C
    May 19, 2020 at 13:55
  • @AllisonC, actually he's only outside since we move in with my stepmother because she doesn't want he to go in...
    – JKHA
    May 20, 2020 at 18:16
  • An outdoor cat will be dirtier than an indoor-only cat. However, an outdoor (and especially outdoor-only) cat will also have a severe impact on local wildlife, and a much shorter lifespan on average.
    – Allison C
    May 20, 2020 at 18:24

1 Answer 1


While I suspect a great majority of pet owners are like you and only wash their hands in those situations most likely to spread illness, such as after cleaning up your pet's waste or before handling food, for the most safety, most experts seem to in fact recommend washing your hands every time you handle your pet. The reason for this being that pets can carry germs and parasites that can be spread to humans, and those things can be spread by merely touching the animal.

Therefore, if I were you, I would attempt to follow your step-mother's wishes in regards to hand washing, but also I would request that in those times you do forget, that rather than getting mad, a polite reminder to wash your hands is sufficient.

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