Do you euthanize a cat that has contracted bovine TB? The answer is no unless you really have to, in my opinion. However, this is a big question because in an earlier article I wrote that the first case of transmission of bovine TB from cat to person had been recorded and, as a consequence, the Chief Veterinary Officer of the UK had said that:
“The public health reasons the most sensible course of action when a cat is diagnosed with culture-confirmed M. bovis infection is euthanasia rather than treatment.
This is quite a shocking statement although it must be stated again that transmission of this disease from cats to humans is extremely rare.
A teenager who is thought to be one of the first people in Britain to have contracted tuberculosis, cat said that she suffered from fevers, cold sweats and hallucinations. Her name is Jessica Livings and she is 19 years of age. She may have caught the infection while cleaning a wound on her kitten, which, incidentally, later died.
A local Berkshire veterinarian encountered 9 cats showing signs of bovine TB with seven of them having bite wounds that may have been from badgers.
In contrast to the advice of the Chief Veterinary Officer, the veterinary director at Cats Protection stated that veterinarians could not force people to have their pets put to sleep. She made the point that each case should be assessed on its merits which includes the condition of the cat and the circumstances of the owners.
The clinical director of the Falkland Veterinary Clinic in Newbury, Carl Gorman, stated that his cat had become infected with bovine TB. He treated his cat who responded very well. Mr Gorman believes that the advice of the Chief Veterinary Officer is too black-and-white. There is a better middle ground, which as stated by the Chief Veterinary Officer at Cat Protection is to assess each case individually and to see whether some cases are suitable for treatment rather than euthanasia.
I think that the important aspect of this story, which as usual is being hyped up by the tabloid newspapers, is that it is very rare for a cat to contract bovine TB and is also rare for a cat to transmit the disease to a person. Therefore, this is not, in fact, a big story. People should not overreact and people should not automatically euthanize their cat if they test positive for bovine TB.