Transmission of common cat diseases and parasites

Transmission of Common Cat Diseases and Parasites

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Transmission of common cat diseases and parasites

Understanding how diseases are transmitted is important as it can help to
reduce possible exposure to cats as well as humans in the case of zoonotic
diseases (infections which cats can transmit to people).

  • Direct contact – Such as licking, touching, biting, sexual intercourse.
  • Indirect contact – Water, soil, grass, contaminated food (including prey).
  • Cutaneous – Transmission via intact skin or a wound.
  • Caregivers – Contact between an infected cat which is then transmitted to the non-infected cat via a caregiver (pet owner, veterinarian etc.).
  • Vertical – Pregnancy (transplacental) and birth.
  • Aerosol/inhalation – Cat to cat transmission such as coughing, sneezing and respiration, viruses can travel for a distance of 6 feet.
  • Vector-borne – Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
  • Oral (indirect contact via the mouth) – Eating, drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Fecal-oral – Pathogens from fecal particles pass into the mouth of another cat via food, water, unwashed hands, contaminated food and insects.
  • Fomites – Non-living objects such as food bowls, cat toys, grooming equipment, which are contaminated with the pathogen.
  • Transmammary (lactogenic)– Transmission of a pathogen to kittens via the mother’s breast milk.
  • Iatrogenic – Medically induced, such as via blood transfusion, organ transplant etc.
  • Transport and intermediate hosts – Animals and insects who have acquired a parasite, which is then passed onto the cat either during feeding (such as vector-borne parasites) or as prey (rodents for example, which are eaten).
  • Carrier – An animal who is infected with a pathogen and is capable of infecting others, but has no obvious signs.
  • Airborne – This differs from aerosol or inhalation as infection is acquired through contamination in the air, but not necessarily directly inhaled (ringworm for example, in which spores in the air can come into contact with the fur and skin and cause infection).

Disease

Zoonotic

Route(s) of transmission

Anaplasmosis No
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion
AnthraxYes
  • Aerosol
  • Fomites
  • Direct contact
  • Blood transfusion (possible)
Aspergillosis (Aspergillus spp.)No
  • Inhalation
Babesiosis (Babesia spp.)No
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion
  • Vertical
Blastomycosis (Blastomyces dermatitidis)No
  • Inhalation
  • Cutaneous (rare)
Bordetella (Bordetella bronchiseptica)Yes, if immunocompromised
  • Aerosol
  • Direct contact
CalicivirusNo
  • Aerosol
  • Direct contact
  • Fomites
  • Caregivers
Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter jejuni)Yes
  • Fecal-oral
Cat flea typhus (Ricksettia)No
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion
Cat scratch disease (Bartonella
henselae)
Yes
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion
    (possible)
Cheyletiellosis (Cheyletiella
blakei)
Yes
  • Direct contact
  • Indirect contact (environment)
Chlamydiosis (Chlamydophila felis)No
  • Direct contact
  • Fomites (possible but rare)
Clostridium (Clostridium difficile)Possible
  • Fecal-oral
Coccidiosis (I. rivolta, I. felis)No
  • Fecal-oral
  • Direct contact (hunting)
  • Indirect contact (environment)
CoronavirusNo
  • Fecal-oral
  • Direct contact
  • Fomites
CowpoxYes
  • Direct contact
Cryptococcosis (Cryptococcus
neoformans)
No
  • Inhalation
Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium spp.)Possible
  • Fecal-oral
Cytauxzoonosis (Cytauxzoon felis)No
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion
    (possible)
Ear mitesNo
  • Direct contact
  • Fomites
Feline herpes (feline herpesvirus type 1)No
  • Vertical
  • Aerosol
  • Direct contact
  • Caregivers
  • Fomites
Feline immunodeficiency virusNo
  • Direct contact
  • Vertical
  • Blood transfusion
Feline infectious anemia (M. haemofelis, M. haemominutum)No
  • Vector-borne
  • Vertical
  • Transmammary
  • Blood transfusion
Feline leukemia virusNo
  • Direct contact
  • Vertical
    Transmammary
  • Blood transfusion
GiardiaPossible
  • Fecal-oral
HeartwormNo
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion
Histoplasmosis (Histoplasma
capsulatum)
No
  • Inhalation
HookwormYes
  • Indirect exposure (penetration of
    larvae in contaminated environment through skin)
  • Ingestion
  • Inhalation
    (via contaminated environment)
  • Vertical
  • Transmammary (possible)
Leishmaniasis (Leishmania
spp.)
Yes
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion (possible)
Leptospirosis (Leptospira spp.)
Yes
  • Urine-oral exposure
  • Vertical
  • Cutaneous transmission via cuts and abrasions from contaminated sources
    (puddles, soil etc.)
  • Possible direct contact (during intercourse)
Lungworm (Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, Capillaria aerophila)No
  • Transport hosts
  • Indirect contact
    (infected water)
Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)No
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion
    (possible, but unlikely)
Notoedric mange (Notoedres cati)Yes
  • Direct contact
  • Fomites
Panleukopenia (feline parvovirus)No
  • Fecal-oral
  • Direct contact
  • Fomites
  • Vertical
Plague (Yersinia
pestis)
Yes
  • Vector-borne (fleas) Aerosol
  • Direct contact
  • Indirect contact
Pseudorabies alphaherpesvirus suid herpesvirus-1 or
SuHV-1
Yes
  • Direct contact with infected swine
  • Indirect contact (ingestion of contaminated pork or infected prey)
  • Fomites
  • Possible aerosol
Rabies (Rhabdoviridae)Yes
  • Direct contact (biting)
Ringworm (Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes)Yes
  • Direct contact
  • Fomites
  • Caregiver
    Airborne spores
Roundworm (Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina)Yes
  • Transmammary
  • Indirect contact (food, feces, water, soil infected with worm eggs)
  • Transport hosts such as rodents (who carry the encysted form)
Salmonellosis (Salmonella spp.)Possible
  • Fecal-oral
Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum, Taenia taeniaeformis))No
  • Vector-borne
Tetanus (Clostridium tetani)Yes
  • Fomites (such as nails from puncture wounds)
Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii)Yes
  • Fecal-oral
  • Ingestion of animal tissue which contains T. Gondii cysts
Tritrichomonas foetusPossible
  • Fecal-oral
Tuberculosis (Mycobacterium
tuberculosis)
Yes
  • Direct transmission (bites)
  • Indirect transmission (infected cows milk or meat)
Tularemia(Francisella tularensis)Yes
  • Oral
  • Aerosol
  • Vector-borne
  • Blood transfusion

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Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care.Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time.Full author bio Contact Julia