OVERVIEW: Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease affecting a variety of domestic and wild animals as well as humans worldwide. Leptospirosis has been reported in over 150 mammalian species. It is considered an emerging infectious disease in humans and in dogs. Subclinically infected wild and domestic animals serve as reservoir hosts and are a potential source of infection for incidental hosts and humans.
INFECTION: Reports of leptospirosis in cats are rare, but the importance of cats shedding Leptospira species and serving as a source of infection has recently gained attention. Leptospira species antibodies are commonly present in the feline population, and Leptospira species shedding of cats with outdoor exposure has been demonstrated. Cats mostly become infected through transmission from hunting rodents.
SIGNIFICANCE: The role of healthy carrier cats as a source of contamination, as well as the role of leptospires as a pathogen in cats, are likely underestimated.