Zoonotic disease transmission associated with feral cats in a metropolitan area: a geospatial analysis.
Feral cats raise public health concerns due to their large population numbers and ability to harbour pathogens that cause disease in people, pets, and wildlife. Information regarding the potential for feral cats to intersect with areas frequented by humans is lacking. This study examined the potential for feral cats and human territories to overlap in the Richmond metropolitan area of Central Virginia. Feral cats (n=275) were trapped for monthly trap-neuter-release (TNR) clinics from July to November 2016. A geographic information system (GIS) was used to map feral cat trapping locations, elementary and preschools, public parks, and community gardens, and to evaluate the potential for cat interaction with these areas, presuming a maximum habitat radius of 0.44 miles. We found that 8.0% of feral cats in the Richmond metropolitan area had potential to range onto public elementary or preschool property, and 81.5% of feral cats trapped in Richmond City had potential to roam into one or more places of interest, including elementary and preschool grounds, public parks, and community gardens. This provides public health, veterinary, and human health professionals with important information that can be used to focus resources in an effort to reduce zoonosis associated with feral cat populations.