Norwegian Forest Cats 4-7 times more likely to get toxoplasmosis than Burmese cats. Discuss.

A rather strange study on the Plos One website came to the conclusion that Norwegian Forest Cats were 4-7 times more likely to contract toxoplasmosis than Burmese cats. In fact, they found that three other breeds were also far more likely to suffer from this condition. These breeds are Birmans, Ocicats and Persians.

In the words of the scientists, they said that: "According to the final multivariable logistic regression model, the odds to test seropositive were four to seven times higher in Birmans, Ocicats, Norwegian Forest cats and Persians when compared to the Burmese, while older age and receiving raw meat were also risk factors for T. gondii seropositivity". 'Seropositivity' means testing positive for the protozoan parasite in the blood.

Norwegian Forest Cat
Norwegian Forest Cat. Photo: copyright Helmi Flick.

They were basically comparing these cat breeds: Birman, British Shorthair, Burmese, Korat, Norwegian Forest Cat, Ocicat, Persian, and Siamese, in terms of whether they were infected with the Toxoplasma gondii zoonotic parasite.

Incidentally, toxoplasmosis in cats is quite commonplace but there are normally no symptoms so you wouldn't know. As you know the domestic cat is the primary vector for the disease. It's a great burden for the domestic cat to be the primary vector to this protozoan parasite because it concerns some people as it can be transmitted from cat to person being zoonotic. Anyway, that's another big story which is constantly brought up on the Internet.

RELATED: Norwegian Forest Cat’s head should be an equilateral triangle (cf. Maine Coon).

In this article I want to confine myself to the rather unusual conclusion that Norwegian Forest Cats carry the disease more often than some other cat breeds. The study is quite narrow, as you can see, by the very small number of purebred cat breeds that they tested.

Anyway, it's worth reporting on it for no other reason than it is quite interesting. The question is why were Norwegian Forest cats in this study more predisposed to contracting this disease? 

Before I suggest the reason for this finding, the scientists also state that "longhaired cats had higher odds to test seropositive is intriguing". They state that they don't know the reasons for the differences in the breeds. They suggest that it might be due to genetic susceptibility or differences in the type, strength, or length of the measurable humoral response (the antibody immune response, as I understand it).

RELATED: Health tip: preventing a toxoplasmosis infection from cat faeces.

The most common way for a cat to get toxoplasmosis is by eating raw meat containing T. gondii oocysts. That's my personal opinion. Perhaps, therefore, owners of the Norwegian Forest cat are more predisposed to feeding a raw diet to their cats. It may simply be the case that the owner(s) of the Norwegian Forest Cat or cats in the study fed their cats with a raw diet for health reasons. This may be a trend with NFC breeders.

A lot of highly competent cat caregivers and breeders learn how to create a highly nutritious and balanced raw diet which can be useful in treating gastrointestinal health issues such as IBD. I wonder whether this study is distorted by this fact? I am speculating rather wildly but I think you have to go back to diet as a primary cause of potential concern.

The scientists also stated that the prevalence of toxoplasmosis appears to vary with the age of the cat. However, I returned to my original thought namely that the biggest factor by far is whether the cat concerned was receiving raw meat albeit with supplements no doubt to make it more balanced.

Study title: Toxoplasma gondii seroprevalence varies by cat breed.

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