Here is a real threat-

Although anti-wolf people try to scare us with the seldom caught Hydatid disease which is almost entirely spread, by dogs, fox, and coyotes, here is the latest on a very important threat from scat — domestic cat scat — toxoplasmosis gondii.

I have mentioned T. gondii a number of times. The latest research (from the Journal of Wildlife Diseases) show cats sicken many kinds of small wildlife, as well as 25 per cent !! of the human race. Cats Pass Disease to Wildlife, Even in Remote Areas. Science Daily.

One of the most creepy things about T. gondii is that directs the brain of the host animal (what about people?) in some cases. For example, it makes rats and mice love the smell of cat. How excellent for the cat! How Different Strains of Parasite Infection Affect Behavior Differently. Science Daily. On the basis of sheer statistics, a number of folks reading this post are infected with this parasite.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

33 Responses to Cats pass Toxoplasmosis to Wildlife

  1. avatar Ryan says:

    The biggest threat to songbirds and native fauna in the us (small rodents, birds, ets) are feral and free roaming domestic cats..

  2. avatar David says:

    This is, of course, the same disease (and same presumed transmission vector) that has been killing California sea otters for years and has prevented them from expanding their population. Current population is about 3000 and declining, because of further losses from a toxin produced by a freshwater blue-green algae.

    • David,

      Yes. I think the effects of this parasite on wildlife, people, and maybe domestic animals, is a lot more important than commonly thought.

      • avatar mikepost says:

        In this article there is a link to a related article about how marine mammals are affected.

        Where are all the coyotes when we really need them???

  3. avatar Daniel Berg says:

    “Some feline experts now estimate 70 million feral cats live in the United States, the consequence of little effort to control the population and of the cat’s ability to reproduce quickly.”

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/09/0907_040907_feralcats.html

    Feral cats are a menace. If my fiance was not such a cat lover, I would trap them and have them euthanized. Pet cats should be kept indoors, period. People in general just aren’t responsible enough to fix their cats before they let them out the front door.

    • avatar jon says:

      There is also apparently a feral dog problem as well. Although I understand the problems feral cats and dogs cause to the native wildlife populations, I don’t like necessarily like the idea of them having to be killed although I understand why. These animals did not ask to be turned loose in the wild. These animals although cause problems for native wildlife are just trying to survive the best they can.

      http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/feral_cats/

  4. avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

    I’ve heard of this “mind control” parasite that cats carry. It’s how they trick us into feeding them.

    Feral housecats are responsible for causing the extinction of over 70% of north American songbirds.

    • NotafaoofWW2,

      I don’t know that it is so, but I immediately thought that yes, maybe cats are such attractive pets for many people because of the parasites that whisper in our heads, “love the cat.” “Feed it.”

      • avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

        I’ve read about Toxoplasmosis before and I believe it is true. Crazy Cat Ladies aren’t born with a desire to harbor hundreds of cats in mobile homes. They start out with one or two and and once infected they cannot say no when others arrive on the back porch. Men are not immune to the ravages of this bug as well. They usually end up divorcing after having made the clear choice of cat over wife. Once the host-human is infected it is virtually impossible to eliminate the parasite. This is a self-preserving parasite that works together with the cat…kind of like those fish that tag along on great white sharks.
        The bugs are probably responsible for preventing many cats from being kicked when things go wrong in domestic circles by lulling the owner into submissiveness. When the cat is happy, everybody is happy.

  5. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Sure there are feral dogs, but more often than not, people complain, and feral dogs are dealt with in a fashion that is not in the dogs favor. Feral cats, on the other hand, are rarely complained about, and people put out food for these cats. This very same food, meant for cats also brings in skunks and raccoons, and is partially responsible for the population explosion of these two critters in suburban locales.

  6. avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

    Domestic housecats do not belong outdoors where they are not part of the natural ecosystem. Wolves are part of the natural preditor/prey balance in the northern Rockies. Some people have a hard time understanding this.

    • avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

      I believe when preditor populations get out of balance, they too should be controlled. I just disagree with the theory that wolves are mainly responsible for the declining elk numbers in the Bitterroot and Lolo zone.

      • avatar Harley says:

        It seems like there is agreement on the fact that there are declining elk numbers in these areas. Whether it’s by wolves or man or disease or civilization, the numbers are down. The predator population is out of balance. Wolves should be controlled. If they don’t have enough food source, they will try and find enough. This only makes sense. I’m not even going to get into the worm debate or who’s to blame. Right now, the numbers are out of balance. Something should be done, help restore those numbers. I think for some that has been the core problem and it’s been frustrating. I’m not speaking from up close personal experience, these are observations.

    • avatar Harley says:

      Domestic cats actually are very useful in rodent control in the rural/farm setting. The problem comes when they are allowed to breed like crazy. Spaying and neutering is the key but it can be rather expensive. In certain places, coyotes help keep down the cat populations, almost to the point of wiping them out, but those instances are few and far between. It’s a shame that spaying and neutering isn’t an option in helping to control wolf populations. It would help keep the numbers down without having to resort to killing them off. Unfortunately, the cost would be a bit too much.

      • avatar JB says:

        If you folks are interested in what scientists think about feral cats, you might take a look at what the Wildlife Society has put together:

        http://issuu.com/the-wildlife-professional/docs/feralcats

      • avatar Harley says:

        Thanks JB, was only able to get through the first page, I’ll get to the rest of it later on today. I’m trying to remember if Toxoplasmosis was the reason why when I was pregnant I wasn’t supposed to change our cat’s litter, particularly if she was an outdoor cat. I’m thinking it was.
        Feral cats are a big problem, no argument there. My brother took a trip to Puerto Rico and he was telling us of all the cats that inhabit Old San Juan. I like cats but that’s a bit much I think. That’s going to quite the extreme.

      • avatar Immer Treue says:

        That is the reason. Toxoplasmosis and pregnancy are not supposed to be a good combination.

      • avatar Harley says:

        It seems like such a mind blowingly huge problem, feral cats that is. There’s a program in the downtown area of the town I live in where they are trying to catch as many cats as they can and at least have those caught spayed or neutered. That cuts down on reproduction but there is still the problem then of feral cats. And that spaying and neutering program is getting costly. More and more incidences of cats being outside has been reported since the economic down trend. People can’t afford a pet and simply let it go to fend for itself. Lots of levels in the problem above and beyond the obvious.

  7. avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

    My numbers come from a wildlife biologist and an Audubon Society chapter president.

  8. avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

    Why don’t you ask me over here, Harley?

  9. avatar Harley says:

    Probably for the same reason you won’t respond to Barry over there Nota.

  10. avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

    Actually, I’m not going to supply the names of those people because they don’t need to be harassed your imbecile friends at BBB. You’re a snitch, anyway.

  11. avatar Harley says:

    Sorry Nota, I”m not gonna play the elementary games you lead. Have a good evening.

  12. avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

    “Harley….How did you like that smoke out of your ass statistic lil ol notafan threw out there……That 85% of all bird species that have when extinct were the cause of feral cats?”

    Explain this lie please, Harley.

    I did not write 85% of “ALL” bird species, yet you continue to defend these maligned, mis-informed braggarts. I don’t reply to people who make up lies about me.

  13. avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

    LOL, They invoke God when they’ve been backed into a corner.

  14. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Avoiding the gutter, some pretty revealing information, and I believe this is just from 2001.

    http://www.fws.gov/birds/mortality-fact-sheet.pdf

    • avatar NotafanofWW2 says:

      Yet Barry allows Harley to play both sides. Lol!

    • avatar Harley says:

      There is no question in my mind that birds kill song birds. I was just questioning the high numbers of mortality. When I lived for a very short time on a small farm acreage, the most I saw killed by birds were chipmunks and the plethora of mice we had. I don’t remember seeing a lot of evidence of bird kills. I read through the link, is there anything more recent? Several years ago at my current home, we had birds that were dying from the West Nile virus, I found a few bird carcasses but again, not nearly as many from feral cats.
      Anyway, thanks for the link Immer

    • avatar Salle says:

      Hey guys,

      Could you keep you arguments at some other blog on THAT blog, please? Most of us on this one don’t bother with the quagmire of unintelligible froth and emotion at the blogs you mention and posting part of a conversation here while arguing on another blog doesn’t add to this conversation. Leave those conversations there, please.

  15. avatar Immer Treue says:

    Salle,

    I’m not arguing. All I’m doing is putting up a site that shows all the diiferent calamities that birds face, including cats. Most of these threads go off on tangents at one time or another.

    That said, I do agree, what is said elsewhere, when boiling into that unitelligble froth, is not necessary here.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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