A recent paper in Feline Medicine and Surgery
has identified a circumstantial link between consumption of a commercialised raw food diet and tuberculosis infection due to Mycobacterium bovis in pet cats. The study focused on young cats with an indoor lifestyle (usually, feline TB infections are found in outdoor cats). The cats used in the study came from five different households across England. They were presented to different veterinarians and had a wide variety of clinical signs.
After initial diagnosis, TB infection was confirmed by PCR or was indicated with a positive interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA). Lifestyle investigations were carried out to determine the source of the infection. In multiple cases, TB infection was linked with consuming a commercially available raw food product from a single manufacturer. The researchers noted that there were other potential sources for the cats’ TB infections. In some cases, M bovis exposure was associated with wildlife contact and access to raw milk. Researchers also identified cases where the cats experienced exposure to infectious humans. The presence of rodent populations inside the buildings where the cats lived was also identified as a potential source of infection.
The researchers concluded that their results provided evidence of an association between the commercial raw food diet of the cats and their TB infections. They did, however, concede that the results were circumstantial and required further investigation.