Maybe we could send Gareth to help out

Long term readers of this site know that I hate feral cats…well, most cats, but feral cats in particular.

They are bird killing machines, mostly of our native birds.

But it turns out they are spreading disease too.

Free-roaming domestic cats (Felis catus) are widely understood to have substantial negative impacts on wildlife. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists cats among the world’s worst non-native invasive species, and cats on islands worldwide have contributed to 33 species extinctions (Lowe et al. 2000, Medina et al. 2011). In the United States free-roaming cats are the top source of direct anthropogenic mortality to birds and mammals, killing approximately 2.4 billion birds and 12.3 billion mammals each year (Loss et al. 2013).

The indirect impacts of cats on wildlife are less obvious, but one of the greatest emerging threats from free-roaming cats is infection with Toxoplasma gondii. T. gondii is a parasitic protozoan that can infect all warm-blooded species but relies on felids to complete its life cycle. According to a new study published in EcoHealth, feral cats are likely driving white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) infections in northeastern Ohio (Ballash et al. 2014). Cats that host T. gondii excrete oocysts into the environment in their feces, and a single cat can deposit hundreds of millions of oocysts, which may remain infectious for up to 18 months (Tenter et al.2000).  

The study’s authors collected white-tailed deer samples at the Cleveland Metroparks as part of a deer management program. Cat serum samples were collected from cats in a trap, neuter, release (TNR) program in the Greater Cleveland area. TNR programs spay/neuter feral cats and then release them into the environment. Nearly 60% of white-tailed deer and 52% of feral cats tested positive for T. gondii. Older deer and deer in urban environments were more likely to be infected, suggesting horizontal transmission from environmental exposure.

The study’s findings have implications for people as well. Widespread environmental contamination increases the likelihood of human infections. In people, infection has been linked to schizophrenia and can lead to miscarriages, blindness, memory loss, and death (Torrey and Yolken 2013, Gajewski et al. 2014). Due to the creation of tissue cysts in infected deer, people that consume undercooked venison can also acquire T. gondii and the subsequent disease, toxoplasmosis.

There is only one way to deal with feral cats.



Do you want:

  • ad-free access?
  • access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • access to Incite Politics magazine articles?

Silver subscriptions and above go in the draw to win a $500 prize to be drawn at the end of March.

Not yet one of our awesome subscribers? Click Here and join us.

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.