Understanding how diseases are transmitted is important as it can help to
reduce possible exposure to cats as well as humans in the case of zoonotic
diseases (infections which cats can transmit to people).
- Direct contact – Such as licking, touching, biting, sexual intercourse.
- Indirect contact – Water, soil, grass, contaminated food (including prey).
- Cutaneous – Transmission via intact skin or a wound.
- Caregivers – Contact between an infected cat which is then.
transmitted to the non-infected cat via a caregiver (pet owner, veterinarian etc).
- Vertical – Pregnancy (transplacental) and birth.
- Aerosol/inhalation – Cat to cat transmission such as coughing, sneezing and respiration, viruses can travel for a distance of 6 feet.
- Vector-borne – Fleas, ticks and mosquitoes.
- Oral (indirect contact via the mouth) – Eating, drinking contaminated food or water.
- Fecal-oral – Pathogens from fecal particles pass into the mouth of another cat via food, water, unwashed hands, contaminated food and insects.
- Fomites – Non-living objects such as food bowls, cat toys, grooming equipment, which are contaminated with the pathogen.
- Transmammary (lactogenic)– Transmission of a pathogen to kittens via the mother’s breast milk.
- Iactrogenic – Medically induced, such as via blood transfusion, organ transplant etc.
- Transport and intermediate hosts – Animals and insects who has acquired a parasite, which is then passed onto the cat either during feeding (such as vector-borne parasites), or as prey (rodents for example, who are eaten).
- Carrier – An animal who is infected with a pathogen and is capable of infecting others, but has no obvious signs.
- Airborne – This differs from aerosol or inhalation as infection is acquired through contamination in the air, but not necessarily directly inhaled (ringworm for example, in which spores in the air can come into contact with the fur and skin and cause infection).
Route(s) of transmission
|Anaplasmosis||No||Vector-borne, blood transfusion|
|Anthrax||Yes||Aerosol, fomites, direct contact,
blood transfusion (possible)
|Aspergillosis (Aspergillus spp.)||No||Inhalation|
|Babesiosis (Babesia spp.)||No||Vector-borne, blood transfusion,
|Blastomycosis (Blastomyces dermatitidis)||No||Inhalation, cutaneous (rare)|
|Bordetella (Bordetella bronchiseptica)||Yes, if immunocompromised||Aerosol, direct contact|
|Calicivirus||No||Aerosol, direct contact, fomites, caregivers|
|Campylobacteriosis (Campylobacter jejuni)||Yes||Fecal-oral|
|Cat flea typhus (Ricksettia)||No||Vector-borne, blood transfusion|
|Cat scratch disease (Bartonella
|Yes||Vector-borne, blood transfusion
|Yes||Direct and indirect contact (environment)|
|Chlamydiosis (Chlamydophila felis)||No||Direct contact, fomites (possible,
|Clostridium (Clostridium difficile)||Possible||Fecal-oral|
|Coccidiosis (I. rivolta, I. felis)||No||Fecal-oral, direct contact (hunting)
and indirect contact (environment)
|Coronavirus||No||Fecal-oral, direct contact, fomites|
| Cryptococcosis (Cryptococcus
|Cryptosporidiosis (Cryptosporidium spp.)||Possible||Fecal-oral|
|Cytauxzoonosis (Cytauxzoon felis)||No||Vector-borne, blood transfusion
|Ear mites||No||Direct contact, fomites|
|Feline herpes (feline herpesvirus type 1)||No||Vertical, aerosol, direct contact, caregivers, fomites|
|Feline immunodeficiency virus||No||Direct contact, vertical, blood
|Feline infectious anemia (M. haemofelis, M. haemominutum)||No||Vector-borne, vertical, transmammary, blood transfusion|
|Feline leukemia virus||No||Direct contact, vertical,
transmammary, blood transfusion
|Heartworm||No||Vector-borne, blood transfusion|
| Histoplasmosis (Histoplasma
|Hookworm||Yes||Indirect exposure (penetration of
larvae in contaminated environment through skin), ingestion, inhalation
(via contaminated environment), vertical, transmammary (possible)
| Leishmaniasis (Leishmania
|Yes||Vector-borne, blood transfusion (possible)|
Leptospirosis (Leptospira spp.)
|Yes||Urine-oral exposure, vertical,
cutaneous transmission via cuts and abrasions from contaminated sources
(puddles, soil etc), possible direct contact (during intercourse)
|Lungworm (Aelurostrongylus abstrusus , Capillaria aerophila)||No||Transport hosts, indirect contact
|Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)||No||Vector-borne, blood transfusion
(possible, but unlikely)
|Notoedric mange (Notoedres cati)||Yes||Direct contact, fomites|
|Panleukopenia (feline parvovirus)||No||Fecal-oral, direct contact, fomites,
|Yes||Vector-borne (fleas), aerosol, direct contact, indirect contact|
| Pseudorabies alphaherpesvirus suid herpesvirus-1 or
|Yes||Direct contact with infected swine,
indirect contact (ingestion of contaminated pork or infected prey), fomites, possible aerosol
|Rabies (Rhabdoviridae)||Yes||Direct contact (biting)|
|Ringworm (Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, Trichophyton mentagrophytes)||Yes||Direct contact, fomites, caregiver,
|Roundworm (Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina)||Yes||Transmammary, indirect contact (food, feces, water, soil infected with worm eggs), transport hosts such as rodents (who carry the encysted form)|
|Salmonellosis (Salmonella spp.)||Possible||Fecal-oral|
|Tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum, Taenia taeniaeformis))||No||Vector-borne|
|Tetanus (Clostridium tetani)||Yes||Fomites (such as nails from puncture wounds)|
|Toxoplasmosis (Toxoplasma gondii)||Yes||Fecal-oral, ingestion of animal tissue which contains T. Gondii cysts|
|Yes||Direct transmission (bites), indirect transmission (infected cows milk or meat)|
|Tularemia(Francisella tularensis)||Yes||Oral, aerosol, vector borne, blood