Cats and the Plague

We fail to recognize our felines have a different world to navigate and they can bring all kinds of unwanted considerations into our lives.

2/27/20241 min read

The NY Times had an posted story recently dated February 14, 2024 by Emily Anthes entitled: 'Can Your Cat Give You the Plague?' which gave me pause for thought. There is that terrifying word 'plague' which is not anything we discuss today or expect to and then the association with cats.

Anyone who knows their history remembers The Black Plague and how the hideous disease ravaged England and all of Europe. When they decided because of superstition that black cats were associated with witches, they took the idea too far and eliminated all cats only to find that meant vermin like mice and rats could proliferate.

These creatures harbour fleas and that is how it gets transmitted. While we think that was then and this is now, it turns out the plague has not disappeared. Fleas still can transmit this illness to an unsuspecting cat by biting him or her. That cat can bring those fleas home and that same flea can give you the plague.

The western US states still have a rat population that harbours this bacterium. We are talking about Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, California and Oregon. It is also found there in prairie dogs, chipmunks, ground squirrels and other small critters.

The good news is that with antibiotics if caught early, we can eliminate the problem. But since it can cause symptoms in our cats that are more difficult to diagnose, we could lose lives over this since cats who are left to roam will catch rats. I guess then there is something to be said for keeping your cat inside, especially if you live in these states.

This caught my eye since the plague is still prevalent. Annually there are 7 human cases a year. Since 1977 in New Mexico, 407 cats were diagnosed. The plague can also be found around the globe amounting to 1000 - 2000 cases. So I am mentioning this as a pet lover requesting that you keep your cat under a tighter reign.