Leptospirosis in cats: Current literature review to guide diagnosis and management

Andrea Murillo, Marga Goris, Ahmed Ahmed, Rafaela Cuenca*, Josep Pastor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Global importance: Leptospirosis is the most widespread zoonosis worldwide. Mammals (eg, rats, horses, cows, pigs, dogs, cats and aquatic species, such as sea lions and northern elephant seals) can all be infected by leptospires. Infection in animals occurs through contact with urine or water contaminated with the bacteria. In people, the disease is acquired mainly from animal sources or through recreational activities in contaminated water. Practical relevance: Literature on the clinical presentation of leptospirosis in cats is scarce, although it has been demonstrated that cats are susceptible to infection and are capable of developing antibodies. The prevalence of antileptospiral antibodies in cats varies from 4% to 33.3% depending on the geographical location. Urinary shedding of leptospires in naturally infected cats has been reported, with a prevalence of up to 68%. Infection in cats has been associated with the consumption of infected prey, especially rodents. Thus, outdoor cats have a higher risk of becoming infected. Clinical challenges: Clinical presentation of this disease in cats is rare and it is not known what role cats have in the transmission of leptospirosis. Ongoing work is needed to characterise feline leptospirosis. Audience: This review is aimed at all veterinarians, both general practitioners who deal with cats on a daily basis in private practice, as well as feline practitioners, since both groups face the challenge of diagnosing and treating infectious and zoonotic diseases. Evidence base: The current literature on leptospirosis in cats is reviewed. To date, few case reports have been published in the field, and information has mostly been extrapolated from infections in people and dogs. This review is expected to serve as a guide for the diagnosis and management of the disease in cats.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)216-228
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Feline Medicine and Surgery
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • Leptospirosis
  • microscopic agglutination test
  • real-time PCR
  • zoonosis


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