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Wild cats in captivity: Diseases Prone To

Wild cats in captivity: diseases –– My animals

Animal diseases

Wild cats in captivity: Diseases Prone To

Wild cats constitute a diverse group of carnivorous animals, which include from small cats – of the genus Felis– to big cats – of the genders Panthera, Neofelis or Acinonyx-. In this article we show you what are the most common diseases of these wild cats in captivity.

Infectious diseases of wild cats in captivity


All cats are sensitive to feline rhinotracheitis. It is a very contagious disease, caused by a herpesvirus, which occurs in a similar way as it does in domestic cats. That is, as an acute infection of the upper respiratory tract.

Clinical signs include mucous or pus nasal discharge, conjunctivitis and keratitis. Normally, they disappear after 14-28 days, unless it is complicated by a bacterial disease. If it affects very young animals, it can be serious, and intensive care may be needed to recover.

As with other herpesviruses, some felines can become chronic carriers of the disease and suffer intermittently.


Again a very contagious virus, this time causing sneezing, nasal and ocular discharge, and mouth ulcers. Sometimes it becomes deadly, especially if the lungs are infected, but cases that are not complicated are usually resolved within 15 days.

And, again, there is the possibility that the cat will become a chronic carrier of the virus and suffer it intermittently.


Panleukopenia is an acute disease that occurs with anorexia, depression, vomiting, dehydration and diarrhea. It is a very contagious viral infection and transmitted by direct contact. In addition, the virus remains infectious for a long time in the environment.

Although it is not very common in wild cats, it is true that it sometimes occurs, and the problem comes when it infects puppies. A puppy with panleukopenia develops problems at the level of the central nervous system.

Feline infectious peritonitis

The felines most predisposed to suffer it are cheetahs. Therefore, its exposure to this coronavirus should be avoided, mainly by avoiding contact with infected cats.

Canine distemper

It is a paramyxovirus, which causes a fatal disease in wild cats that have had contact with infected canids.. And those who do not die remain as subclinical carriers throughout their lives.

Canine distemper is transferable to wild cats in captivity

Leukemia in wild cats in captivity

Although it is a disease always diagnosed in domestic cats, it has also been described in wild cats. Generally, it causes signs of immunodeficiency. Normally, zoos maintain a policy of negative populations against this virus.

HIV in wild cats in captivity

Numerous retroviruses causing this disease have been described in wild cats, mostly related to the virus that causes it in cats. Symptomatology varies from retinal conditions to gingivitis or neurological disorders.


It has been described in panthers, wildcats, lions, leopards, etc.. And, normally, each of them was infected by a species-specific papillomavirus.

Symptomatology includes lesions on the skin and mouth. Some even get worse and cause tumors that can cause the death of the animal.

Other diseases of wild cats in captivity

Bacterial gastritis

Helicobacter spp. It is the causative agent of this disease, which affects, above all, the cheetahs. Symptomatology includes chronic vomiting, stomach ulcers, weight loss, anorexia and malaise.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

This disease is known worldwide as ‘mad cow disease’. And it has been described in populations of European felids that had been fed with corpses of cows affected by the prion.

Dermatophytosis in wild cats in captivity

It is a parasitic disease caused by a dermatophyte fungus, usually the Microsporum canis. Symptomatology includes hair loss, alopecia, skin redness, skin thickening and breakage, etc. Alopecia becomes more evident in the ears, extremities or neck, although it can also be generalized.

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