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Cat Colony Diseases

Cat colony diseases are going to be similar to, or the same as, the sort of diseases that multi-cat households and cat breeders are subject to. A customer wrote about her purebred cat bought from a breeder: FIP In Breeding Cattery Cats.

It is important to note that in a study of feral cats in Florida, the cats, "had similar or lower prevalence rates of infections [for FIV and FeLV the targeted diseases] than those published for pet cats in the United States." See: Prevalence of infectious diseases in feral cats in Northern Florida by Brian J. Luria et al (Science Direct).

Feral cat colony. Longhaired feral cats are rare. Photo in public domain.

The way I see it there are two types of cat colony disease. There are the usual upper respiratory infections and urinary tract infections that all cats and particularly outdoor cats are going to be more susceptible to and we also have the deadly, some of which are highly contagious, diseases that are probably responsible for the majority of deaths. We know that the life of the feral cat is much shorter than that of the cosseted indoor cat. And it is feral cats that live in colonies. Colonies form around food sources.

These deadly viral disease would seem to be FIP, FIV, FeLV and feline distemper to use the shortened language of cat medical dictionaries. FIP is feline infectious peritonitis; FIV is feline immunodeficiency virus and FeLV stands for feline leukemia virus.

Below is the result of a survey that was part of a trap-neuter-return program that took place on Prince Edward Island, Canada:

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Data/disease/information Prevalence - comment
% kittens 6-12 weeks of age that were trapped 25% of all cats trapped
fetuses removed during spaying operation 41
number of females nursing litters 14 - 7.6%
% of cats/kittens positive for FeLV 9 - 4.9% -only adults were positive
% cats/kittens positive for FIV 11 - 5.9% -only adults were positive
% adult male cats positive for FeLV 7.7%
% adult female cats positive for FeLV 5.4%
% adult male cats positive for FIV 13.8%
% adult female cats positive for FIV 2.7%
cats least likely to be infected with FeLV +/or FIV younger cats, female cats and/or owned and indoor cats

I am not sure why FIP is not referred to in this survey. It may be because the subject of the survey was FIV and FeLV.

This page has a bit more on the subject: Stray and feral cat illnesses.

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