Health concerns for free-roaming cats


Other cats may carry diseases that can be passed on to your cat if he or she comes into contact with them.  Many of these diseases can be serious or potentially fatal. Common examples include:

  • feline leukemia (FeLV)
  • feline AIDS (FIV)
  • FIP (feline infectious peritonitis)
  • feline distemper (panleukopenia)
  • upper respiratory infections (or URI)


While usually not life-threatening for cats, several common parasites can be picked up by your cat when venturing outdoors, including:

  • fleas
  • ticks
  • ear mites
  • intestinal worms
  • ringworm (a fungal infection)

These parasites can cause a variety of moderate to severe symptoms, such as scratching, skin infections, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, these parasites can hitch a ride into your home and infect your family. Parasites can be very difficult to eradicate from your pet, from humans, and from your home.


Rabies is a preventable viral disease most often transmitted through the bite of an infected animal. The majority of cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. However, cats can contract rabies and the risk for contracting rabies runs highest if a cat is outdoors and exposed to wild animals. It is a requirement in North Carolina that all cats, dogs and ferrets over 4 months of age be vaccinated against rabies. Please see our Rabies page for more information.