Do Feral Cats Act as a Buffer Against Humans Getting Rabies?

TNR – trap-neuter-return programs can help to prevent people getting rabies from cats. This might sound strange but please read on and see whether you agree or not.

I have never thought about this before but a visitor writing a letter to the editor on the website syracuse.com states that feral cats which have been trapped, neutered and released can act as a buffer protecting outside domestic cats from rabies.

Feral cat

Feral cat

The person who wrote the letter does not explain how this works so I will have a guess. If there are a number of feral cats in a colony they are more likely to encounter wildlife and therefore more likely to encounter a rabid animal and the most common are bats.

In which case, a feral cat is more likely to contract rabies. We know that true feral cats tend to avoid contact with people because that is their nature; they are wild cats, in effect.

Accordingly, if a feral cat is rabid it presents less of a hazard to people than if a domestic cat had contracted rabies because a domestic cat is far more likely to come into contact with a person.

I think that makes sense and if it does then it is another hidden benefit to the well-known trap-neuter-release programs which are becoming ever more popular for the obvious reason that they are the only humane way to gradually reduce the population of feral cats.

If by contrast a colony of feral cats had been trapped and euthanised leaving a temporary void then at that time a domestic cat who was allowed to roam outside would be more likely to come into contact with a rabid animal which otherwise would have come into contact with feral cats. This domestic cat would be a distinct hazard to people.

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Do Feral Cats Act as a Buffer Against Humans Getting Rabies? — 12 Comments

  1. This is not true, not in the least. It’s just wishful, biased, misinformation.

    1) Leaving food around, or even the scent of food around attracts wild animals or other cats that might already have rabies. Just sharing a food-dish or drinking puddle with a rabid animal can transmit rabies to another animal.

    2) Rabies vaccines are ineffective on the undeveloped immune systems of kittens and juvenile cats. Many many cats that have been harvested from TNR colonies, given their shots, and then adopted, later died from rabies. The cost to the adopter in the dozens of thousands of dollars. In one well-known case the family even had to go into bankruptcy for the costs involved in treating all their other animals and family members for contact with that cat they had adopted from a shelter’s TNR program.

    3) TNR cats can almost never be trapped again for the legally required booster shots. After the first year, if they were given the shot as an adult cat (in young cats the vaccine never takes) they cannot be trapped again and can now transmit rabies again.

    4) For just one example: The greatest rabies outbreak in US history. Exposures in one New Hampshire town in 1994 which cost that municipality $2 million to treat–was caused by a TNR cat-colony from which four feral kittens were ‘adopted’ to a pet store and subsequently sold to different households.

    You really should educate yourself from a wider range of resources and not just from those that will have you believe you are a wonderful person, one who knows all there is to know about cats and TNR programs. You’re anything but that. You prove it hourly.

    • The fact that you constantly attack me tells me that you see me as a threat to your agenda – the extermination of cats more or less. If I am a threat I must be believable. If I am believable what I write must contain truths.

      • Half (and in your case, far less than half) truths are not truths. You post and spew manipulative deceptive lies. But that’s obvious to anyone who ever reads anything you ever post. See, you are being exposed for what you are. The only one who doesn’t realize that is you — and, of course, those who are even more stupid and ignorant than you.

        “Very nearly the best way to lie is to tell the truth, but not all of it.” ~R. A. Heinlein~

        Unless somebody who knows the whole truth calls you on it.

    • 1) “Leaving food around, or even the scent of food around attracts wild animals or other cats that might already have rabies. Just sharing a food-dish or drinking puddle with a rabid animal can transmit rabies to another animal.”

      Leaving food out IS poor practice. The most feral cats are easily trained to feed on schedule. Place dishes out, pick them up after a half hour, eaten or not. The cats quickly learn when to eat. The person feeding will be no less vigilant than he would be in keeping raccoons and other vermin away. Just sharing food dishes or drinking water is a bit more remote than direct bite but is possible.

      2) “Rabies vaccines are ineffective on the undeveloped immune systems of kittens and juvenile cats.”

      Cite credible source, please. The schedule of rabies vax begins by the time an animal is 16 weeks age.

      “Many many cats that have been harvested from TNR colonies, given their shots, and then adopted, later died from rabies. The cost to the adopter in the dozens of thousands of dollars. In one well-known case the family even had to go into bankruptcy for the costs involved in treating all their other animals and family members for contact with that cat they had adopted from a shelter’s TNR program.”
      Cite credible sources, please?

      3) “TNR cats can almost never be trapped again for the legally required booster shots. After the first year, if they were given the shot as an adult cat (in young cats the vaccine never takes) they cannot be trapped again and can now transmit rabies again.”
      Not much truth here. I’ve trapped ferals repeatedly and continue to do so for rabies boosters, injuries or illness. It’s not difficult. Some cats are more trap-savvy than others, but there are many ways to do the job. You’re fixating on the notion that rabies vax are ineffective in “young cats”. Credible source, please?

      4) PLEASE cite your sources.

      I’ll spend some time on your comments after you’ve provided credible citation. Not some whacky google/wikipedia sources. CREDIBLE sources. I need to see that actual named people in actual named places both experienced and were investigated by actual named authorities. Looking forward to it. Thank you.

      • Thanks a lot Ree. Nice work. J. Jones is an alias of Woodsman001 or Woody as I call him. He is a well known troll who makes extravagent statements which are distortions of fact and he can never support what he says with legal references or excellent studies.

  2. Whoa. Why the venom? I find this forum an open one where sometimes varying positions are juxtaposed. There are things to learn and things to share. Put forth your opinion and be welcome but leave the insults at home, please.

  3. Listen, smart ass. You’re over-reactive and clearly anti-cat. So much for bias.
    Viruses, cells, bacterias… they all have protein coatings. Some proteins are strong enough to allow a virus to be airborne and are ultimately the most contagious (SARS for instance); some are incredibly delicate (Rabies for instance) and can only be exposed to certain temperatures and most be kept in a short range of salinity, PH balance, etc. Rabies has a very specific environment it likes.
    People swim in lakes, rivers, and drink from streams and large open reservoirs.
    While it would be theoretically possible to contract rabies from a water bowl, the chance of this happening is so remote as to be virtually zero. I was unable to find any documented cases of rabies transmission by this vector.

    It was not, I repeat NOT and outbreak of rabies outbreak (or contraction).
    This incident of rabies associated with a pet store resulted in the largest number of persons ever reported to have received rabies POSTEXPOSURE treatment (read: HYSTERIA) as a result of potential contact with a point source in the United States. * At least three factors accounted for the large number of persons requiring treatment. First, the absence of pet store records regarding the source and destination of animals precluded an accurate estimation of the exposure period. Second, the store’s popularity and its practice of allowing kittens to roam freely throughout the establishment increased contacts between humans and kittens. Finally, because many children were potentially exposed, accurate exposure histories could not be elicited; as a consequence, many rabies postexposure treatments were administered on the basis of incomplete information or unknown likelihood of exposure.

    Nice doing business with you, woody.

    • These are just the diseases these invasive species vermin cats have been spreading to humans, not counting the ones they spread to all wildlife. THERE ARE NO VACCINES against many of these, and are in-fact listed as bio-terrorism agents. They include: Afipia felis, Anthrax, Bartonella (Rochalimaea) henselae (Cat-Scratch Disease), Bergeyella (Weeksella) zoohelcum, Campylobacter Infection, Chlamydia psittaci (feline strain), Cowpox, Coxiella burnetti Infection (Q fever), Cryptosporidium Infection, Cutaneous larva migrans, Dermatophytosis, Dipylidium Infection (tapeworm), Hookworm Infection, Leptospira Infection, Giardia, Neisseria canis, Pasteurella multocida, Plague, Poxvirus, Rabies, Rickettsia felis, Ringworm, Salmonella Infection (including the most dangerous new super-strain found only in cats), Scabies, Sporothrix schenckii (Sporotrichosis), Toxocara Infection, Toxoplasmosis, Trichinosis, Visceral larva migrans, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. [Centers for Disease Control, July 2010] Bird-flu (H1N1, H5N1, H7N2), Bovine Tuberculosis, Sarcosporidiosis, Flea-borne Typhus, Tularemia, Rat-Bite Fever, SARS, an antibiotic-resistant strain of Staph aureus (MRSA — Meticillin-Resistant Staph aureus) “The flesh-eating disease”, and Leishmania infantum; can now also be added to CDC’s list.

      Yes, “The Black Death” (the plague) is alive and well today and being spread by people’s cats this time around. Many people have already died from cat-transmitted plague in the USA; all three forms of it transmitted by CATS — septicemic, bubonic, and pneumonic. For a fun read, one of hundreds of cases, Cat-Transmitted Fatal Pneumonic Plague — ncbi . nlm . nih . Gov / pubmed / 8059908
      (remove all spaces from obfuscated-for-posting URLs)

      bcdcatsvets . Org / yersinia-pestis-infection
      “Recommendations to avoid zoonotic transmission:
      Cats are considered the most important domestic animal involved in plague transmission to humans, and in endemic areas, outdoor cats may transmit the infection to their owners or to persons caring for sick cats (veterinarians and veterinary nurses).”

      • How many diseases are carried and transmitted by humans, Woody? Should be exterminate people like you? You’ve been banned again.

  4. As anyone can look up the 1994 incident at the CDC, I remind that the initial kitten that died after having seizures, died of an unknown cause. Three kittens subsequently died of respiratory failure. None were confirmed to have had rabies. No rabies. They were all under 3 months and were not yet vaccinated, so I guess they figured it must have been rabies because that’s what they feared the most. All that fuss… find something real to whine about, woody.

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