Bats are often unfairly depicted as the direct culprit in the current COVID-19 pandemic, yet the real causes of this and other zoonotic spillover events should be sought in the human impact on the environment, including the spread of domestic animals. Here, we discuss bat predation by cats as a phenomenon bringing about zoonotic risks and illustrate cases of observed, suspected or hypothesized pathogen transmission from bats to cats, certainly or likely following predation episodes. In addition to well-known cases of bat rabies, we review other diseases that affect humans and might eventually reach them through cats that prey on bats. We also examine the potential transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the causal agent of COVID-19, from domestic cats to bats, which, although unlikely, might generate a novel wildlife reservoir in these mammals, and identify research and management directions to achieve more effective risk assessment, mitigation or prevention. Overall, not only does bat killing by cats represent a potentially serious threat to biodiversity conservation, but it also bears zoonotic implications that can no longer be neglected.
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