Coccidia Cat Parasite
There are four species of coccidian that produce the condition known as coccidiosis in cats, dogs, and other animals. Each of the four species prefers one particular species of animal as a host. But cats sometimes become infected with poultry coccidian when they eat raw chicken viscera containing the organisms.
Coccidian fastens onto the cells lining the small intestine and the tissue under the lining. Here they reproduce and develop into locusts’, highly infective oval cells which subsequently are eliminated in the feces. Cats take in the locusts by contact with infected faces.
Coccidiosis produces enteritis-like symptoms: nasal and eye discharge, weakness, emaciation, bloody diarrhea, and loss of weight and appetite. There may also be a rise in temperature. Kittens are very susceptible to coccidiosis, especially after they are weaned. Nursing kittens do not appear to be as badly affected by the disease as weaned kittens.
Young kittens may pick up the locusts from their mothers or from infected faces. The disease is the scourge of pet shops, especially those without proper sanitation. Kittens lick their paws after walking in infected faces and take in the locusts. Flies are also suspected of being carriers of the coccidian locusts.
Cats and kittens usually recover from coccidiosis and it is more or less self-limiting. But neglected cases may terminate in death, since secondary infections may set in. Recovery from a specific type of coccidia usually confers immunity from that type, but a cat recovering from coccidiosis caused by the poultry species, for example, is not immune to the other species. A positive diagnosis of coccidiosis is made by a microscopic examination of the faces.
Both the diagnosis and treatment should be left to the veterinary surgeon. You can help guard against reinfestation by keeping the cat’s sanitary tray clean. Keep stray cats away and promptly remove any faces from the house, pen, or grounds.
See more: Giardiasis in Cats