Coccidia (Coccidiosis) in Cats

Coccidia are highly contagious microscopic parasites that live within the cells of the intestinal lining. Although they are most commonly seen in kittens under six months of age, they can be found in adult cats as well. Transmission of coccidia occurs when the cat comes into contact with contaminated feces. The main sign of infection is diarrhea which may vary from mild to severe depending on the level of infection. Symptoms of a severe case include: vomiting, dehydration, weight loss, and diarrhea which is mucous-coated and often containing blood, and in some instances, death.

Situations which are stressful to the cat and can lower her resistance such as overcrowding, malnutrition, or unsanitary conditions, can often lead to coccidiosis. Since cats can be reinfected when they come into contact with their own feces, it is of the utmost importance to keep their litter box as clean as possible.

Coccidia are diagnosed by performing a microscopic examination of a stool sample. Often the presence of coccidia cannot be seen under the microscope however, and if this turns out to be the case, your vet will diagnose and treat your cat based on her symptoms.

Treatment usually consists of the use of sulfa-type antibiotics for a period of one to three weeks. Additional medications to control diarrhea and dehydration may also be prescribed as well.

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