Giardia in Cats: What Exactly Is It?
Giardia is a type of organism known as a protozoan. It is a single-celled organism. It is possible for this organism to reside in the intestines of cats (as well as other animals, such as dogs and humans), where it can cause severe gastrointestinal disease. It can be passed from person to person through feces that have contaminated water, food, or soil.
Giardia can be found in every region of the United States as well as in other parts of the world.
Giardiasis in Cats: Signs and Symptoms
Giardiasis is a disease that, in the majority of cases, results in excessively severe and watery diarrhea. Giardia in cats can also cause:
A diminished capacity for hunger
Less energy available
Regular trips to the bathroom stall or litter box.
You will most likely experience irritation in the perineal region, and you may find yourself grooming yourself excessively in an effort to stay clean. Unfortunately, this behavior is a source of ongoing reinfection.
It is also important to keep in mind that even though cats (and other animals) may have protozoa in their intestines, they may not exhibit any symptoms of having the infection. Because cats are not routinely tested for Giardia unless they have diarrhea, the frequency with which this occurs cannot be determined with certainty.
Giardia in Cats: Possible Risk Factors
Giardia is a protozoan that can only be contracted through oral consumption. Ingestion of feces or soil contaminated with stool (caused by grooming) or drinking water that has been tainted with cysts is how cats become infected with the disease. Food that has been tainted is a source of Giardia in cats that are kept indoors less frequently, but it can be a source of infection for cats that are allowed outside.
How Cats Can Be Diagnosed with Giardia by Veterinarians
In order to determine your cat’s level of hydration and determine whether or not it is experiencing abdominal pain, your veterinarian will first collect your cat’s medical history and then perform a physical exam. The office of your veterinarian should be able to provide you with a quick test for Giardia. They will almost certainly require a fecal examination to check for the presence of additional intestinal parasites.
Giardia treatment for feline patients
Giardiasis can be treated with over-the-counter medications that are easily accessible and inexpensive. The antibiotic metronidazole is the drug that is recommended to patients the most frequently. The severity of the infection, as well as the cat’s overall health, will determine whether or not the veterinarian decides to prescribe any additional medications.
Because cats can continually reinfect themselves through frequent grooming (ingesting cysts on their fur) and other sources of environmental contamination, the disease may require more than one round of treatment. Cats can be infected with the disease.
Recuperation and Treatment Strategies for Giardia in Cats
Cats that have been treated are susceptible to re-infection because they do not develop a “immunity” to the disease, which protects them from further infections. Because of this, it is necessary to disinfect any and all living areas that the cats can enter. Cleaning with ammonia, a bleach solution that’s been diluted, or steam can be effective. This parasite is difficult to eradicate because it is impractical to disinfect entire homes, which is one of the reasons why it is so widespread.
It is possible to give preventative medication to your other animals, such as cats and dogs, if you have them living in the same household as the infected pet. Because contaminated soil or areas can remain infectious for months given the right conditions, it is best to steer clear of those areas whenever it is at all possible to do so.
Because shed cysts are not reliably detected by the test, it is necessary to conduct multiple tests, all of which must be negative, before concluding that the disease has been eradicated. Before bringing a new pet into your home and letting it interact with other animals, it is strongly recommended that you take the new pet to the veterinarian for an examination, including a Giardia test and a stool check for parasites.