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Are feral cats a public health threat?

Are feral cats a public health threat?

No. News sites just love hysteria.

Recently and others have reported that feral cats pose a public “threat” of rabies.

The USA Today article leads with “Efforts to care for abandoned cats could mean more humans will be exposed to rabies.”

This information is based off a “report” from researchers with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The report was published in the journal Zoonoses and Public Health.

This “rabies threat” sounds scary until you read the real numbers (ironically, from CDC statistics) and find out literally no one in the United States gets rabies from cats.

Are feral cats a public health threat?

Humans don’t get rabies from cats in the United States

There have been no confirmed cat-to-human rabies transmissions in the United States in nearly 40 years, according to a press release from Alley Cat Allies, an organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats. The press release said it used data from the CDC.

So what’s the deal with this so-called report from the CDC?

I follow the KC Dog Blog which is maintained by Brent Toellner. He wrote a post that looks at the real numbers. Even if you don’t like cats, it’s worth the read.

From the KC Dog Blog:

  • Of the estimated 60 to 150 million estimated free-roaming cats in the United States, just 303 were diagnosed with rabies, according to 2010 statistics from the CDC. That’s .0005 percent if you used the lowest estimate.
  • Wildlife (other than feral cats) accounted for 92 percent of the total population for rabies cases, according to CDC statistics from the same year.
  • From 2001 to 2009, there were 29 cases of rabies in humans in the United States. Eight of those people actually got the disease from a bite in another country.
  • In the last 13 years, your chances of getting rabies from a cat in the United States were – literally – zero.
  • One of the co-authors of this CDC “report” was George Fenwick, president of the American Bird Conservancy, a group that is open about its stance against feral cats.

Whether you love cats or not, you don’t have to worry about the “threat” of rabies.

Read the full post from the KC Dog Blog here: CDC tries to stir up more hysteria over nothing – and again the result will be dead animals.

That Mutt supports barn cat adoption programs for feral cats as well as the trap/neuter/release of feral cats. Both programs typically include rabies vaccinations.

Feral cats are not a public health threat


Wednesday 28th of August 2013

The media is at it again! They really like to sensationalize things, don't they? It drives me nuts. What is really sad is that people fall for it!!! Thanks for putting things into perspective. I hope those people reading about Cujo Kitties have enough sense to do more research and find this post.

Lindsay Stordahl

Wednesday 28th of August 2013

That's the thing, people fall for it.