"The scope and impact of the disease is a little bit larger than we thought," Dr. Christina Nelson, lead author on the study, told NPR. It's caused by fleas; their poop contains the bacteria Bartonella henselae, which builds up in cats' fur, ready to be transferred onto your face during a snuggle session. (It can also be transmitted through cat scratches and bites, but your cat would never be such an asshole, would he?)
The worst part? Kittens are the biggest carriers, since they haven't built up an immunity to the disease yet and are more likely to transfer it. That means the best way to protect yourself is probably to ignore kittens altogether. But since that's completely cruel and preposterous, the next line of defense is making sure your furry friend is flea-free. Outdoor cats are at greater risk for transmitting the disease than indoor ones, so be extra careful with breeds that roam the wilderness.