Objective—To estimate cat population size, management, and outside fecal deposition and evaluate attitudes of cat owners and nonowners to stray animal control, water pollution, and wildlife protection.
Sample Population—294 adult residents of Cayucos, Los Osos, and Morro Bay, Calif.
Results—The region's cat population was estimated at 7,284 owned and 2,046 feral cats, and 38% of surveyed households owned a mean of 1.9 cats/household. Forty-four percent of cats defecated outside >75% of the time. Annual fecal deposition (wet weight) by owned cats in the 3 communities was estimated to be 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons). Cat owners were more likely to oppose cat licensing and impounding stray cats and support trap-neuter-return for stray cats and less likely to be concerned about water pollution, than were noncat owners.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Feral cats represented a sizeable proportion (22%) of the free roaming cats in this area and could be contributing 30.0 tonnes (29.5 tons) of feces to the environment per year. However, feral cats are not the principal source of fecal loading because owned cats defecating outdoors contribute an estimated 77.6 tonnes (76.4 tons) or 72% of the annual outdoor fecal deposition.
Objective—To estimate the analytic sensitivity of microscopic detection of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts and the environmental loading of T gondii oocysts on the basis of prevalence of shedding by owned and unowned cats.
Sample Population—326 fecal samples from cats.
Procedures—Fecal samples were collected from cat shelters, veterinary clinics, cat-owning households, and outdoor locations and tested via ZnSO4 fecal flotation.
Results—Only 3 (0.9%) samples of feces from 326 cats in the Morro Bay area of California contained T gondii–like oocysts. On the basis of the estimated tonnage of cat feces deposited outdoors in this area, the annual burden in the environment was estimated to be 94 to 4,671 oocysts/m2 (9 to 434 oocysts/ft2).
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Despite the low prevalence and short duration of T gondii oocyst shedding by cats detected in the present and former surveys, the sheer numbers of oocysts shed by cats during initial infection could lead to substantial environmental contamination. Veterinarians may wish to make cat owners aware of the potential threats to human and wildlife health posed by cats permitted to defecate outdoors.