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Salmonellosis in cats

Giacometti F, Magarotto J, et al. Highly suspected cases of salmonellosis in two cats fed with a commercial raw meat-based diet: health risks to animals and zoonotic implications.
BMC Vet Res. 2017 Jul 24;13(1):224.

Salmonella are important human and animal pathogens worldwide. Most cases are foodborne. Cats are mainly affected subclinically. Feeding raw diets to cats is becoming increasingly popular. As these diets do not undergo any type of heat processing or sterilization, existing bacteria and parasites can be present at the time of consumption so both commercial and home-made raw meat-based diets (RMBD) are at risk of contamination with pathogens including Salmonella spp. This report describes two highly suspected cases of feline salmonellosis in two cats from the same household fed with RMBD and identifies a likely source of the Salmonella cases.

The first case involved an eight year old Sphynx who presented to the veterinarian with GI signs of vomiting and diarrhea, along with weight loss. A mucoid to bloody diarrhea was identified. Four days later, a second cat from the same household presented with the same signs. On questioning, the owner specified that the homemade food given to both animals was a frozen commercial poultry RMBD bought on the internet. Fresh feces were tested for a variety of infectious agents, including Salmonella. Salmonella was identified by PCR testing.

The owner of the two cats was advised by the veterinarian to discontinue the practice of feeding raw meat-based diets and the commercial poultry RMBD was suspected as a possible source of infection. The owner submitted specimens of both diets, namely commercial prepared bowl of frozen poultry RMBD and commercial dry pet food for testing and Salmonella was found.

Raw food diets for companion animals could represent a potential pet-associated source of Salmonella spp. The authors concluded that owners who decide to feed animals with RMBD should take strict precautions to avoid direct or indirect transmission, also considering the close relationship that most owners have with their pets. (MK)

See also:
Schlesinger DP, Hoffe DJ. Raw food diets in companion animals: a critical review. Can Vet J. 2011 Jan;52(1):50-4.