Cuddling kittens can kill you, warn scientists
Cuddling a kitten may always make you feel better - but it could be dangerous to your health, according to experts.
Doctors from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US conducted a large-scale survey of the cat-borne bacterial disease cat scratch fever.
They found the scope and impact of the potentially deadly disease was larger than they thought.
The disease causes fever, pustules and in extreme cases, the complications from the illness can cause death.
The doctors have warned that hands should always be washed after touching cats, and to avoid kissing felines where possible.
They also advised cat owners ensure their pet is protected from fleas.
Dr. Christina Nelson of the CDC said: "The scope and impact of the disease is a little bit larger than we thought,
"Cat-scratch is preventable. If we can identify the populations at risk and the patterns of disease, we can focus the prevention efforts."
Kittens and strays are more likely to carry the disease. The disease is spread when you are scratched by an infected cat, or when you don't wash your hands and touch your mouth after stroking an infected cat.
Kissing and rough play with stray cats and kittens should also be avoided where possible.
Cat owners should also be careful about their animals interacting with stray cats where possible.
However, the disease is relatively rare, with the survey finding that annual incidence was 4.5 outpatient diagnoses/100,000 population.
This is more than expected, but is rare enough to mean you aren't putting your life hugely at risk by kissing a kitten.