Home cats serving to unfold harmful parasite to wildlife, UBC research finds

Must you hold your pet cat indoors? New analysis from the College of British Columbia is including ammunition to the argument the reply is “sure.”


The research, led by veterinarian and UBC adjunct forestry professor Amy Wilson, focuses on the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which is widespread in cats and probably dangerous to wildlife.

The researchers checked out greater than 45,000 circumstances of toxoplasmosis in wild animals and located a heightened presence of the parasite amongst wildlife residing close to dense city areas.

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“Toxoplasma has an attention-grabbing life cycle in that cats and home cats and wild cats are on the centre of its life cycle,” Wilson mentioned.

“If you see a sample that you’ve elevated an infection charges and with excessive human densities, then with excessive human densities, you’re going to see larger numbers of home cats. In order that’s what we concluded was one of many components resulting in the an infection charges as a result of they’re loading the surroundings with elevated numbers of eggs.”

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A single contaminated cat can shed as many as 500 million Toxoplasma oocysts (eggs) in a two-week interval via feces. These eggs can go dormant and wait years earlier than infecting an animal, she mentioned.

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Animals contaminated with toxoplasmosis carry the parasite for all times, probably resulting in nervous system problems, cancers, different debilitating continual sicknesses and demise in circumstances the place they have already got a weakened immune system.

The parasite will also be handed up the meals chain to predators that eat contaminated wildlife, and is a specific menace to aquatic species, based on Wilson.

People also can grow to be contaminated by coming into contact with contaminated cat feces, with specific hazard to people who find themselves pregnant.

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Many organizations, together with the BC SPCA, advocate protecting cats indoors each for their very own safety and to cut back predation on birds and different wildlife.

Conserving cats indoors, on harnesses or in so-called “catios” or enclosed out of doors areas also can assist forestall the unfold of toxoplasmosis, with further advantages for the cats themselves.

“I simply actually wish to be sure that folks perceive that they don’t need to eliminate their cats,” Wilson mentioned.

“The message to cat homeowners is actually to begin transitioning your cat to a supervised out of doors entry — we all know that free-roaming cats endure elevated trauma, we all know they endure elevated illness,” she mentioned.

Wilson mentioned the research, just lately revealed in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, additionally highlighted the significance of defending wholesome forests and ecosystems, which might help filter out Toxoplasma and forestall the an infection of untamed animals.

© 2021 World News, a division of Corus Leisure Inc. | Home cats serving to unfold harmful parasite to wildlife, UBC research finds


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