Giardia: What Is It, and What Does It Mean for Your Cat?

September 21, 2018 9:48 pm Published by

Cats are curious creatures, and sometimes this curiosity leads to problems with their health. Although dogs are usually known for sniffing and eating other animals’ feces, some cats are also guilty of this nasty habit, which can lead to the development of a variety of infections.

One infection that is somewhat common in cats is giardiasis. Caused by the single-cell parasitic organism Giardia, giardiasis affects the intestinal tract and can lead to severe diarrhea, dehydration and other unfortunate symptoms. Because diarrhea is not normal in cats and can cause significant health problems, it’s important to understand how to spot giardiasis and know when to visit a cat care clinic in Alexandria, VA and get your four-legged friend some treatment.

What is giardiasis?

The organism Giardia is a parasite that infects your cat’s intestines and latches on to the intestinal wall once it makes its way through the digestive system. There, it reproduces and sucks nutrients from your cat.

The parasite creates strong cystic shells that are shed through the stool of infected animals and can live for a long time, even in extreme weather. Giardiasis is transmitted when an animal eats the feces of another animal that was infected with giardiasis or drinks water that is infected with the parasitic cysts. After ingestion, the infection can take between five and 14 days to develop symptoms in your cat.

The infection is most common in kittens rather than adult cats, and is more likely to occur in multi-pet households. Additionally, some strains of the parasite are able to infect dogs and humans.

Spotting giardiasis in your cat

The main way to spot giardiasis in cats is the sudden onslaught of diarrhea that has a pungent odor. The stool may also contain blood and mucus and could appear frothy.

Aside from diarrhea, cats infected with giardiasis may also appear lethargic and lose weight rapidly. They may also be dehydrated and drink lots of water, since diarrhea can cause severe dehydration.

However, just because your cat doesn’t show symptoms doesn’t mean it hasn’t been infected. Some cats are carriers of the infection and exhibit no signs, but can infect other animals through the same cyst-ingestion process.

Diagnosis and treatment

As soon as you notice your cat exhibiting signs of giardiasis, you should schedule an appointment with your local cat care clinic in Alexandria, VA. Dehydration from diarrhea can occur rapidly and lead to significant health risks, so don’t delay.

In order to diagnose giardiasis, a vet will need to examine your cat’s stool and identify the cysts of Giardia. Once giardiasis is confirmed, your vet will likely prescribe medication to treat the symptoms and remove the infection. Some cats may need medication and fluids via an IV because they are dehydrated from chronic diarrhea.

After your cat’s diagnosis, you should make sure your cat completes its full dose of medication to ensure the removal of the parasite. Additionally, you should sterilize your living environment to make sure your cat does not get re-infected and that you or other pets don’t get infected, too. Clean all your cat’s bedding, toys and food and water dishes, and sterilize other parts of your home as necessary. Also, make sure to bathe your cat to remove parasites from its fur.

If your cat is showing signs of giardiasis, don’t delay in getting it treated. Make an appointment with Kingstowne Cat Clinic, the premier cat care clinic in Alexandria, VA dedicated to the health and wellness of your feline friends. We offer a vast array of services for cats, including wellness exams, surgery, dentistry, sedated grooming and vaccinations. Call us today!

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