Last Updated on January 11, 2021 by Julia Wilson
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).
Route(s) of transmission
|Aspergillosis (Aspergillus spp.)||No|
|Babesiosis (Babesia spp.)||No|
|Blastomycosis (Blastomyces dermatitidis)||No|
|Bordetella (Bordetella bronchiseptica)||Yes, if immunocompromised|
|Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter jejuni)||Yes|
|Cat flea typhus (Ricksettia)||No|
|Cat scratch disease (Bartonella|
|Chlamydiosis (Chlamydophila felis)||No|
|Clostridium (Clostridium difficile)||Possible|
|Coccidiosis (I. rivolta, I. felis)||No|
| Cryptococcosis (Cryptococcus|
|Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium spp.)||Possible|
|Cytauxzoonosis (Cytauxzoon felis)||No|
|Feline herpes (feline herpesvirus type 1)||No|
|Feline immunodeficiency virus||No|
|Feline infectious anemia (M. haemofelis, M. haemominutum)||No|
|Feline leukemia virus||No|
| Histoplasmosis (Histoplasma|
| Leishmaniasis (Leishmania|
Leptospirosis (Leptospira spp.)
|Lungworm (Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, Capillaria aerophila)||No|
|Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)||No|
|Notoedric mange (Notoedres cati)||Yes|
|Panleukopenia (feline parvovirus)||No|
| Pseudorabies alphaherpesvirus suid herpesvirus-1 or |
|Ringworm (Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes)||Yes|
|Roundworm (Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina)||Yes|
|Salmonellosis (Salmonella spp.)||Possible|
|Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum, Taenia taeniaeformis))||No|
|Tetanus (Clostridium tetani)||Yes|
|Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii)||Yes|