Are Outdoor Cats a Health Hazard?



While their ancestors may have roamed the great outdoors, new research says it’s better for modern housecats to stay exactly that—inside the house.


According to a recent report published by the Royal Society journal Biology Letters, pet cats allowed outside were almost three times more likely than indoor cats to become infected with pathogens or parasites. This is especially relevant to owners, since many of these diseases can be passed onto humans. 


For the meta-analysis study, scientists from Auburn University in Alabama looked at more than 20 scientific studies, which included cats from all over the world, as well as 19 different feline pathogens.


Another key finding of the study is that the further cats live from the equator, the more likely they are to be infected by a bug or virus if allowed to roam outside.


"You think of tropical regions as just having more wildlife, more parasites," said lead author Kayleigh Chalkowski, in at statement to global news agency AFP. "But it turned out that latitude had the opposite effect."


Results were consistent for almost all of the examined diseases, including those that can affect humans, such as feline roundworm. Scientists also found that the mode of transmission varied greatly from soil, prey or other felines.


If owners must let their cats spend time outside, experts recommend monitoring how far their feline travels and minimizing the number of other animals they come into contact with.


“Basically, no matter where you are in the world, keeping your cat indoors is a great way to keep them healthy from infectious diseases,” said Chalkowski.


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