The Grapevine

Feral Cats Likely To Be Spreading Parasitic Diseases, Study Says

Per a new report released by analysts, in addition to them killing large amounts of Australian wildlife, there’s also a high possibility that feral cats are also spreading parasitic disease to animal species that are native in South Australia.

Published in the journal Wildlife Research, the study apparently analyzed a cat-borne parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) that is responsible for the disease Toxoplasmosis in a high number of animal species in the region.

Parasitic Disease Spread by Feral Cats

The research was done on animal species present on Kangaroo Island, which according to studies, have a high population of feral cats. The data taken from Western grey Kangaroos tested in the area were then compared to that of another place on the Fleurieu Peninsula. Located in the mainland, the area had far less feral cats present in it.

The samples were taken at intervals of two months for about a year.

From this, the team was able to find out that none of the kangaroos from the mainland tested positive for the disease while around 20 percent of the ones from the island had T. Gondii antibodies present in them.

“What I was trying to show was that we know there’s a higher prevalence on the island compared to the mainland, does this same pattern also exist in wildlife?” Patrick Taggart, an adjunct fellow at Adelaide University and the study’s lead author, said. “From a conservation point of view, wildlife is likely suffering higher rates of toxoplasmosis on the island compared to the mainland as a consequence of the higher presence of the parasite in wildlife populations.”

Furthermore, he also said that previous research has shown that cats living on Kangaroo Island are more likely to have the parasite than those from the mainland. He also said that there are secondary factors that come into play as well, such as the characteristic of soil in the area and what the weather or climate is generally like.

Lastly, he said that helping stop the spreading of the parasite and disease requires the eradication of these feral cats in the island.

Cat Airways may become inflamed as a result of being exposed to asthma irritants like tobacco smoke, dust, or animal fur. Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

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