Researchers tracking the spread of Toxoplasma gondii – a parasite that reproduces only in cats but sickens and kills many other animals – have found infected wildlife throughout a 1,500-acre (600-hectare) natural area in central Illinois.
The researchers also found dozens of free-ranging cats in the area, the Robert Allerton Park, near Monticello, Ill. Two years of tracking, trapping and motion-triggered night photography at eight sites in the park found no evidence of bobcats, but plenty of examples of feral or abandoned house cats, many of them infected with Toxoplasma.
The research appears in the Journal of Wildlife Diseases.
T. gondii reproduces in cats and is shed in their feces. Other animals pick it up from soil or water or by eating infected animals. Infection can lead to neurological problems, and sometimes death, in humans and other animals.
The researchers trapped, sedated and collected blood samples from 18 cats and hundreds of other mammals, including raccoons, opossums, squirrels, mice, woodchucks, chipmunks and rabbits. All of the animals were tagged and released where they were found.
(Watch a slide show about the research.)
One third of the cats sampled were infected with T gondii, as were significant numbers of the wild animals found at every site. Animals that inhabit or range over territories of 247 acres (100 hectares) or more, such as raccoons and opossums, were more likely to be infected than those with smaller ranges.
But these animals "could have acquired T. gondii infection somewhere outside of the park," said Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, a wildlife veterinary epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Prairie Research Institute and leader of the study. Animals with smaller home ranges likely picked up the infection close to where they were trapped, she said. This makes these animals good sentinels of disease in a natural area.
"The small animals are screening the environment for us," she said. "So when we sample one of those animals, we are really sampling their lifestyle."
The absence of bobcats in the park combined with the occurrence of domestic cats and T. gondii infection in wildlife that inhabit small territories strongly suggest that feral, free-ranging or abandoned house cats are the source of the infection, Mateus-Pinilla said. Cats are vital for the survival of the parasite, and so they are – either directly or indirectly – spreading T. gondii to the wildlife in the park. "There's no other option," she said.
The researchers also found that "small-home-range" animals were more likely to test positive for T. gondii if they lived near human structures in the park or in areas where there were a lot of cats, said lead author Shannon Fredebaugh, a graduate student who completed her master's degree with the study. But the researchers also found infected small-home-range animals in remote areas where fewer cats were seen.
"If one infected cat defecates there, any area can become infected," Fredebaugh said. "It just takes one cat to bring disease to an area."
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign: http://www.uiuc.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
I find this interesting. I have been battling with stray and feral cats on my land for 15 years. No amount of trying to educate those releasing them would work. The sheriff finally told me to shoot them all. Which I did. Only recently was I rid of all of them. (Until the cat-loving neighbors adopted some more this spring. Did I mention they weren't too bright? They already went through over 40 of them, how many before they learn? Time to get the gun out again, its legal here to shoot them -- their cats, not the neighbors, if only both were true.)
However, during this time, I had unsuccessfully been able to get any of the local wildlife to eat any of the cats, alive or dead. I one time even hacked one of the dead-cats into quarters, thinking the smell of fresh meat would get some of the local foxes, opposum, skunks, and raccoons interested. They would only sniff at it then run away from it. (These wild animals all have free run of the yard area around my house and visit often.) Except this last winter when a small opossum family gnawed on the head of one of the dead-cats once. Sadly, I haven't seen them since. I was looking forward to watching their offspring play this spring and summer. I feel bad now that by trying make a use of these cats to feed the natural food-chain that they may have succumbed to a deadly disease. I had also read a recent report online from someone in Florida who found that even the resident coyotes will not eat the feral cats in their area.
After hearing about all the diseases that cats now carry in their flesh and blood, I decided it would be best to dispose of them in a nearby swamp (while wearing gloves devoted for that purpose). Letting the dead cats reinvest in the natural food-chain further down on the ladder.
I now wonder if all animals that could be natural predators of cats sense their toxicity and avoid them at all cost. If so, their only natural predator left to keep their numbers in check will be man. Or already is. That's already a fact of life here. They have no other known predators where I live. The neighboring farmers destroyed all the coyotes and wolves that could have been beneficial to the cat propblem. And those animals that still could have been predators of cats won't touch them now.
I'm willing to bet you shot a few coyotes and wolves too. Just doesn't seem so smart now, does it?
With that being said. I own a cat. She is spayed and declawed as ALL cats should be. I don't want to hear any whining about not being able to protect herself. That's the point. She lives IN my house. NOT in my neighborhood where she would need them.
You didn't have to state the seciond part. You already proved how stupid you are with the comment about shooting coyotes and wolves. I wish there were some coyotes and wolves around so I wouldn't have to take up all my time trying to fix all the problems that people LIKE YOU create for the planet. But farmers around here are just as pathetically stupid as you are, and destroyed all the animals that could have destroyed all the lousy cats. The ONLY species that I've ever seen in the sights of my rifle have been CAT. I named that rifle "Tweety-Pie" because cats are all it sees.
I’ve read Shannon Fredebaugh’s thesis (though I’ve yet to read the corresponding Journal of Wildlife Diseases paper), and, although she did an enormous amount of fieldwork, I don’t see that it actually adds up to much. In fact, her study demonstrates nothing more than correlation—at best. Indeed, the trend line for cat occurrence vs. small home range (SHR) mammals indicates an inverse relationship.
Nevertheless, both Fredebaugh and her Committee Chair, Nohra Mateus-Pinilla, suggest that their findings are unambiguous: the cats are responsible for the infection of the area’s SHR mammals (of which just one rabbit and 13 white-footed mice were found to be seropositive).
“There’s no other option”?
Actually, there are plenty of options, as a number of recent studies point out. Congenital transmission, for example, is now recognized as a more important route than was previously thought. Also, T. gondii is surprisingly prevalent in the Arctic, where cats are very rare. And scientists in Poland have suggested ticks as a mode of transmission that bypasses cats entirely. (I go into a great deal more detail in my most recent blog post.)
Now, I understand that the stories posted on LabSpaces often come from press releases “associated with peer reviewed scientific literature,” as much as possible—thus, making the editorial staff “the messengers.” Still, I find it troubling that such flimsy work is showcased on the site, thereby giving it greater legitimacy. Such stories are held up as evidence of the grave public threat posed by feral cats by people who would like to see them eradicated (see, for example, a recent post on The Wildlife Society’s blog).
I don’t know what’s more troubling here, the failures at the academic level (which shaped Fredebaugh’s flawed research design, analysis, and conclusions) or those in the peer-review process (which have given the study undeserved credibility).
Peter J. Wolf
I don't know what's more troubling here. The fact that you advocate for the dispersal of a species known to wipe out the whole food-chain in native habitats or that you're just that amazingly stupid to not realize just what you are comdemning all wildlife to with your seriously misplaced and deranged love for a dometic cat. Cats are an invasive species. Bred by man for man’s purposes. They are NOT an indigenous species anywhere on the planet today and have NO PLACE in nature! They have no more right to be out in the natural world than some genetically engineered insect that would devour all life in the countryside. AS THEY HAVE ALREADY DONE in every part of the world where they are allowed to roam free.
You seriously need to see a psychologist about your control-freak issues. Caring for disease-spreading, wildlife-destroying, property-destroying cats isn't going to solve what you really need.
Here's a little insight to help you with your war on cat-lovers and their cats. Now you'll know why cat-lovers actually do what they do.
Human Territorial Behavior By Expendable Proxy
I have come to the inexorable conclusion that the vast majority of cat-lovers and cat-owners that let their destructive invasive-species roam free, and those that defend the rights of feral cats to overtake public property and wildlife areas, are only (cowardly) using cats as a proxy for their own territorial behavior. Not unlike uneducated inner-city youth that will disrespectfully and inconsiderately use a boom-box to stake-out a territory for themselves with loud music. As long as they can have one of their possessions defecate in another's yard or destroy their property,animals, and wildlife,; and the yard-owner not have any recourse; the cat-owner owns that territory. It's time to put a stop to them using their "cute kitty" excuse for usurping and stealing others' property. If they want territory they can damn well buy it just like anyone else. Instead they're using underhanded, disrespectful, and manipulative means by putting (and sacrificing) live animals in the path of their envy and greed. Again proving why they don't care about cats nor anyone else at all. Cat-lovers only really want your lawn, yard, or forest while making all others and all other animals suffer for what they can't have nor own. Bottom line--they want to control you and your property. That's ALL that "cat-lovers" are really after. It's why they don't care at all if their cat nor any other animals, nor even other humans, get harmed by their goals and (lack of) values in life.
Dear Vox Felina and all members of Alley Cµnt Allies,
Here's something you really need to read:
biological warfare n. (Abbr. BW) The use of disease-producing microorganisms, toxic biological products, or organic biocides to cause death or injury to humans, animals, or plants.
Given the above information about cats harboring dangerous biological agents that are harmful to all wildlife and humans, as well as the cats themselves being just as harmful if not more-so, and the above information about your TRUE motives (even unknown to most of yourselves, until now), the fact that you want to infest public and private properties with these harmful biological agents means that EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU CAN AND WILL eventually be held responsible for the crimes that you are commiting against all of humanity and all of nature.
May you all rot in prision as soon as possible.
Dear Vox Felina and all members of Alley Cµnt Allies,
Here's something you really need to read:
biological warfare n. (Abbr. BW) The use of disease-producing microorganisms, toxic biological products, or organic biocides to cause death or injury to humans, animals, or plants.
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/biological-warfare
Given the above information about cats harboring dangerous biological agents (of which you were already aware) that are harmful to all wildlife and humans, as well as the cats themselves being just as harmful if not more-so (this too of which you were aware), and the above information about your TRUE motives (even unknown to most of yourselves, until now), the fact that you want to infest public and private properties with these harmful biological agents means that EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU CAN AND WILL eventually be held responsible for the crimes that you are commiting against all of humanity and all of nature.
May you all rot in prison as soon as possible.
And as for the rest of you? It’s time to shoot all cats on sight, everywhere. It’s the only way we’ll be able to get this problem under control now. Buy a rifle, go take a gun course, and start shooting. Wear gloves when disposing of the cat-carcasses, by incinerating it or burying it deeply enough so its remains won’t infect anymore animals nor humans. Either that, or catch every one that you see until all your lands and neighborhoods are 100% free of any roaming cats. Then have it taken in to be tested and then disposed of. Or put under monitored quarantined living conditions where they'll never step foot outside ever again, lest you have to catch them and repeat this process all over again. (And we all know what happens when cats are put back in the hands of cat-lovers, don't we.We're dealing with that problem right now.) It’s your time and money. Which way do you prefer to solve this massive problem that all these sociopathically irresponsible and pathetically idiotic piece-of-s*** cat-lovers caused for the whole world?
We can all see how much Vox Felina and Ally Cat Allies are going to help in cleaning up this ecological disaster they created. I just checked and they are now busy selling t-shirts to raise money for themselves. Good. When everyone sends them the bill for how many man-hours and how much equipment and resources were used to fix this worldwide disaster they created, they'll have some money to pay everyone back, just before the prison doors are slammed on all of them--permanently. (I have 15 years of efforts they need to pay me for. at $160/hr.) Does this not astound anyone else as much as it does me? People are going to be DYING and wildlife is DYING because they want to sell t-shirts and disperse disease-carrying cats--a genetically engineered animal through selective breeding that has NO place in the natural world, into an environment where they have no natural predators. And even if they did the predators would now all die from eating the infected cat-meat.
Prison is too good for "people" like these. Mandatory psychological lifetime treatment is required it seems, heavy on the lobotomies and electro-shock therapy. If it was up to me, I'd have them all starve to death the way their animals caused to the predators on my land, or be maimed and mauled to die a slow death, like their cats did to all the pray animals on my land. Maybe even a few while disemboweled, like I've seen animals die from their cats. Aren't they lucky that I'm not the one making the laws in how to deal with ecologically irresponsible and brain-dead wastes-of-flesh like these.
The time for just shooing them off your land is over. Now add a T to the world “shooing” — if you value your life, your family’s life, and that of all wildlife.
Now tell us all what to do about your cats when they crap in our gardens or on our lawns or in our woods (never-mind how much wildlife they have already destroyed just by their behavior) so no humans nor other animals die from it.
I know what I'll do, use my rifle again, but I'll be much more careful of how I dispose of that carcass, to make sure that no other wildlife nor humans can ever come in contact with it again.
Who do we send the bill to to clean up this massive ecological disaster that you have created? Alley Cat Allies? It'd be a good start.
And for you hunters that shoot them for target practice (like all hunters here do), please bury them now. If a wild animal eats an infected cat carcass it will die from it. I know because I fed some cat-meat to some wild animals here once, hoping I could make use of a cat for something, and I never saw those animals again. There's no other reason they disappeared, they were in my yard every night for 2 years straight and then they never came back after feeding them cat-meat. If I had only known then what I know now.
And as for the rest of you? If you don't want to die, your children, pets, or have your wildlife die from a cat just defecating in your yard or garden, the time has come to shoot all cats on sight–everywhere. It's the only way we'll be able to get this problem under control. Whether anyone else condones it or not. It's the only viable solution now. Buy a rifle, go take a firearms education course, and start shooting. If your aim is good (get a laser-sight to make this near fool-proof) this is a FAR more humane method than any animal-shelter methods. One instant they are enjoying stalking some prey to destroy and not eat (even more at night, the laser-sight comes in handy then), the next moment they are unconscious and DEAD DEAD DEAD. It doesn't get more humane than that. And don't go telling me otherwise. I've done it many many dozens of times now.
After you've shot all of them that you can find then be sure to wear gloves when disposing of the cat-carcasses. Dispose by incinerating them or burying them deeply enough so their remains won't infect any more animals nor humans.
Either that, or take the namby-pamby pissant route that got us to where we are now ... catch every one that you see (and don't see) until all your lands and neighborhoods are 100% free of any roaming cats. Then have them taken in to be tested and then disposed of. OR put under MONITORED QUARANTINED living conditions where they'll never again step foot outside, lest you have to catch them and repeat this process all over again. And we all know what happens when cats are put back in the hands of cat-lovers, don't we. You know, your pissant solution we've used for decades. We're dealing with that problem right now. YOU ALL FAILED, BIG TIME.
It's your time and money. Which way do you prefer to solve this massive ecological-disaster that all these sociopathically irresponsible and pathetically idiotic piece-of-s*** cat-lovers caused for the whole world? If you're not going to be part of the solution, then you are just as big a part of the problem.
The time for this action of shooting all cats on-sight was 20 years ago.
Everyone needs to take this matter into their own hands now. Lead or get the f*** out of the way. And we've all already seen what everyone else's SPINELESS LEADERSHIP has caused.
A quite hilarious posting by none-other than the demented leader of Vox Felina itself (found here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-to-do-about-feral-cats/2011/05/26/AGEzjMEH_allComments.html?ctab=all_#weighIn ):
(Comments were closed there so I couldn't reveal this mentally=deficient basket-case for the fool that s/he really is.)
>But I have a serious question regardless of where anyone stands on TNR. How would one go about euthanising tens of millions of outdoors cats?
You fool, that's what shotguns, rifles, and handguns are for. You know, the SSS Cat Management Program that's sweeping the world--Shoot, Shovel, & Shut-up. Legal EVERYWHERE, and there's not one damn thing you nor anyone else can do about it.
>On Marion it took 19 years, and a lot of money to kill a few thousand cats.
The population of Marion must be really bad shots. I alone already shot about 100 of them all by myself. Just five more this week alone. You're telling me the population of a whole island is that lacking in motor-skills? Sounds more like someone was raping the tax-coffers for 19 years. What's a few thousand? 3-4,000? It could have been all done in one season with 30-40 people like myself, just for the cost of the ammo.
> How long will it take to kill tens of millions, and who will pay for it?
Hmmm ... let's do the math ... I alone disposed of about 60 to 100 cats already, in just 2 seasons. It would have been less if the mentally deficient cat-lovers in the area wouldn't keep adopting more every month (because they believe in the psychotic "vacuum effect" and must replace any that disappear, no doubt). You'd think the local humane-society would ask them the simple question, "What the hell did you do with the last dozen cats we gave you? Make stew?"
Anyway... let's take the topmost estimate of feral cats in the USA being about 60,000,000. Now, considering they are rather sparse here, population-density-wise, and difficult to spot when they do roam free in all the woodland underbrush (but they do no less damage), let's increase the average of cats shot-dead in more densely populated areas to 100 cats per person per season. This means only 600,000 people in the USA, the population of a very small city, will have to get their marksman skill up to do away with ALL of them in just one short season. Now if everyone in the cities would put all those gangs to work, they already have guns, redirecting their energies ... we could be rid of ALL OF THEM IN JUST ONE SEASON! What a great summer-employment project for all gang members!!!!! And they'll get their need to shoot something out of their systems! (But please, outfit them with shovels too, to bury all these disease infested cats so the dead cats can't do even more damage to all humans and wildlife.)
>Who will pay for the truckload of legal cases that will invariably arise when pet cats get mistaken for ferals?
What legal cases? If a cat is not inside someone's home it deserves to die. Clear-cut case. Simple. If they don't care about the well-being of their cats and that of all wildlife, nobody else should could give one damn about their cats either. Or should everyone send you a bill to rent out their land for the use of their cats? I charge $10,000 an acre per week per cat. Got the cash?
>What are the unintended consequences we will need to prepare and budget for?
What budget? Getting rid of 60 to 100 cats here only cost 60 to 100 X $.08 (the cost of an average round for a .22). $6.00 to $8.00 for the mathematically challenged. Two cups of Starbucks coffee to get rid of 60-100 cats? Seems highly economical to me, considering all the $BILLIONS in damage that cats cause every year. Not to mention all the costs in testing, spaying, neutering, and disposal of these useless wastes of flesh.
>E.g. on Marion there now is a massive problem with an out of control mouse population - who eat bird eggs and kill chicks - and the South African government has indicated it does not have the millions of dollars it will cost to try and eradicate the mice.
I see, so your cats destroyed LESS birds than the mice did? Mind if I rub your useless nose in a turkey, grouse, quail, or other ground-nesting bird's nest so you can see the damage that cats do, up-close and personal? Could you cite some proof in this matter? You cat-licking cµnt. The solution? Breed as many resident native predators as they can, foxes do wonders if they have them, or use a resident reptile or bird-of-prey that relishes mice. It'll all eventually stabilize within a couple seasons. Are you telling me that the officials of this island are as brain-dead as you are? Probably.
>TNR is imperfect in many ways, and not feasible in many locations.
Not only imperfect, but a perfect waste of anyone's time and energy. Because you claim that 60,000,000 feral cats can't be killed on-sight just as easily. Just imagine the mountain of disaster that you have created and the meaningless few cats that you still let destroy all wildlife by setting them free again. As they say colloquially, "You've got one oar out of the water." "You're spinning a wheel in the sand," "You're not firing on all cylinders." Not only is shooting them all a quicker, and a more cost-effective way, but it will actually solve ALL problems. Unlike your psychotic beliefs that perpetuate all problems on-ad-infinauseum.
>To posit something that is impossible to execute as an alternative to a flawed approach is either profoundly ignorant, or profoundly cynical.
Ah, about time that you looked at your TNR policies objectively.
>How about devoting resources to all the promising research aimed at developing non-invasive sterilization methods for feral and wild animals,
And how many years are we going to have to wait for this imaginary solution? Another two decades of failures, like TNR?
>instead of pouring those resources into histrionic marketing campaigns predicting the Apocalypse Meow?
And this is going to solve the death and destruction of native wildlife by your disease-infested killing-machines, how?
>Prophecies of the apocalypse have a very bad track record, and their prophets end up being ridiculed.
Ahhhh.... now we get to the heart of the matter. Not only are you insane, you think you're a prophet. ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!
Why TNR and Cat Advocates Even Exist ...
It has been found that Toxoplasma gondii parasite is capable of changing the brains of whatever organism it infests. In mice, they lose the fear of cats and are even attracted to cat-urine. Making the asexual portion of the Toxoplasma gondii life-cycle faster to complete in order to replicate more quickly into its sexual reproduction phase in all host cats. This loss of fear and apprehension manifesting itself in humans in a similar manner, even when common-sense tells them they should depend on that sense of fear or doubt for their own survival.
Here are other ways that this parasite have been known to alter the thinking patterns of humans: http://wildlifeprofessional.org/blog/?p=3929
I strongly suspect that it might even be responsible for all cat-lovers' wholly contradictory behavior of putting cats, all other animals, and even all humans in harm's-way through their adamant insistence of promoting TNR programs, just to ensure the survival and spread of more Toxoplasma gondii parasites throughout the food-chain and in more humans. They are, in effect, being controlled against all reason and common-sense by the very parasite that is reproducing in their cats.
The stuff that sci-fi used to be made of come to reality. Real-life "pod-people". They can't think nor reason beyond the need of ensuring the survival of Toxoplasma gondii. It won't let them.
Moral of the Story:
I wasted 15 YEARS of my life arguing with demented cat-lovers. During which THEIR CATS DESTROYED ALL WILDLIFE ON MY LAND.
It wasn't until I STOPPED arguing and did what needed to be done -- SHOOT ALL CATS -- that my land, all the wildlife on my land, and my life itself started to return to normal. I no longer have to go out twice a day on cat-patrol to shoot more cats nor waste more time and energy burying them to protect wildlife from the diseases they carry.
I hope the rest of you learn from this lesson. You can argue with the Toxoplasmosis parasites in the cat-lovers' brains until you are blue in the face and your whole planet is destroyed by their cats, but it'll never get rid of the cats that have destroyed your life and all wildlife.
JUST DO WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE -- DESTROY THEM.
Only later, AFTER your land and life are 100% free of cats, can you have fun educating the ineducable. Use the time you got back from their cats taking over your life to share the best ways to destroy all cats. (Without harming any other wildlife nor humans.) Then if you want, make YOUR life THEIR problem. Just as they made THEIR cats YOUR problem for all these many years. It's only fair! Because that's what it's really all about, it's not about cats at all. THEY ONLY WANT TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE WITH THEIR CATS. You can put a stop to that immediately BY DESTROYING THEIR CATS. And there's not ONE THING they can do about it if you do it right. They'll no longer have any part of your life.
An 18-month off-road trial will test underground charging systems to juice up on the go and extend driving range
Yosemite, Redwood, and other famous parks as they look from outer space
8-year-old Harapan joins his brother at an Indonesian breeding sanctuary; fewer than 100 "hairy rhinos" are left in the world
The white Kermode bear of British Columbia is galvanizing First Nations people fighting to protect their homeland
A naturalist cuts through the myths surrounding the invasive plant
Attracting the right species can help get rid of vine-munching insects and allow farmers to cut back on pesticides
"We are seeing wildfires in the United States grow to sizes that were unimaginable just 20 or 30 years ago"
Driftwood on Iceland and other Arctic islands is younger than once thought
Electric shock training and surgery are starting to pay off for the teams fighting to save one of the world's largest birds
As bat populations dwindle, a new effort is aimed at getting North America's bat researchers working on the same page.