Growing urbanization leads to an increased risk of parasite spread in densely inhabited areas. Free-ranging cats can be locally numerous and come into frequent contact with both wildlife and humans. Cats are thus expected to contribute to parasitic disease transmission. In our study, we investigated the prevalence of endoparasites in free ranging cats in urban areas of Kraków city, based on necropsy of road-killed cats in relation to sex and diet of cat, season and habitat type. We found that 62% of 81 cats were infected with endoparasites with Toxocara cati
being the most prevalent. In total, we identified seven parasite species. The number of parasite species was higher in suburban habitats and aside from Eucoleus aerophilus
the prevalence of all parasites was higher in cats from suburban areas than in the individuals living in the city urban core. The prey of examined cats included mostly rodents, followed by soricomorphs and birds, which can all serve as paratenic hosts. Based on our results, we suggest that cats in urban areas should be considered as a serious potential zoonotic threat. Implementation of proper veterinary control and wider education on the topic is recommended.
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