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A Cat-Borne Threat to Monk Seals

March 16, 2023

Hawaiian monk seals and toxoplasmosis—infographic and frequently asked questions.

Toxoplasmosis is one of the biggest threats to Hawaiian monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands. The disease has killed at least a dozen monk seals in the last two decades—it is almost always lethal for them. The majority of these deaths were among adult females, which are especially important to the recovery of the species.

  Infographic of a cat-borne threat to Hawaiian monk seals on how Toxoplasma gondii makes its way from the mountains to ocean.

How can you help?

You can help prevent toxoplasmosis from affecting monk seals and other wild animals by doing your part to reduce the spread of infectious eggs from the Toxoplasma gondii parasite.

  • Keep cats exclusively indoors to prevent the spread of toxoplasmosis to Hawaiian monk seals and native birds. This also protects native birds from cat predation while increasing our pet's lifespan.
  • Spay and neuter your cats to prevent contributing to the free-roaming cat populations across Hawaiʻi.
  • Surrender your cat to a local animal shelter for adoption if you are no longer able to care for your pet.
  • Properly dispose of cat feces and litter in the trash—and not into the environment.
  • Do not feed feral cats. This may perpetuate colony growth and poor quality of life for these free-roaming cats, and put precious island resources at risk.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Regional Office on 04/09/2024