Earlier this week, doctors warned in a review in the journal Trends in Parasitology that large amounts of cat poop in the U.S. could contribute to the spread of a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. Since the parasite has been linked to diseases such as schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, rheumatoid arthritis, and brain cancer, the authors warned that cat poop could represent an under-reported public health problem.
Today, a cat advocacy group is sticking up for American felines. Alley Cat Allies, which claims to be the largest U.S. advocacy group for cats, has come out against the study, saying that it “grossly exaggerates” the health threats of toxoplasma gondii being spread from cat poop. The group points to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data that suggests cats are rarely the source of Toxoplasma gondii infection. Alley Cat Allies also seized on the fact that the review itself cites a statistic showing the rate of Toxoplasma gondii infection among U.S. adults has dropped over the past two decades.
“This is fear-mongering, plain and simple,” said Becky Robinson, president and co-founder of Alley Cat Allies. “The study produces no hard evidence of cat-to-human transmission of toxoplasmosis. The researchers base their conclusions solely on estimates of the amount of cat feces deposited in sandboxes outdoors. In fact, you are more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from eating undercooked meat than from touching a cat.”
Robinson stated that she is worried the review could contribute to the death of cats, and particularly feral cats. The Alley Cat Allies organization is opposed to the use of euthanasia on cats by animal shelters.
“Alarmist studies like these only result in dangerous consequences for healthy cats,” said Robinson. “Already more than 70 percent of all cats – and 100 percent of feral cats – are killed in shelters. We don’t need yet another war on these innocent creatures. We need a common sense approach starting with trap-neuter-return which reduces the cat population without any killing.”