Domestic cats, wild bobcats and pumas that live in the same area share the same diseases.
And domestic cats may bring them into human homes, according to results of a study of what happens when big and small cats cross paths.
Initial results of the multi-year study are published today in the scientific journal PLoS One by a group of 14 authors.
The joint National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) Ecology and Evolution of Infectious Diseases (EEID) Program funded the study. Scientists at Colorado State University and other institutions conducted the research.
It provides evidence that domestic cats and wild cats that share the same outdoor areas in urban environments also can share diseases such as Bartonellosis and Toxoplasmosis. Both can be spread from cats to people.
"Human-wildlife interactions will continue to increase as human populations expand," said Sam Scheiner, program director for EEID at NSF.
"This study demonstrates that such interactions can be indirect and extensive," said Scheiner. "Through our pets we are sharing their diseases, which can affect our health, our pets' health and wildlife health."
The study looked at urban areas in California and Colorado. Its results show that diseases can spread via contact with shared habitat.
All three diseases the scientists tracked--Toxoplasmosis, Bartonellosis and FIV, or feline immunodefiency virus--were present in each area.
The research also demonstrates that diseases can be clustered due to urban development and major freeways that restrict animal movement.
"The results are relevant to the big picture of domestic cats and their owners in urban areas frequented by wild cats such as bobcats and pumas," said Sue VandeWoude, a veterinarian at Colorado State and co-leader of the project.
"The moral of this story is that diseases can be transmitted between housecats and wil
|Contact: Cheryl Dybas|
National Science Foundation