Feline Coccidia: A Pet Owner's Guide
By John Rhodes
Abdominal pains, vomiting, dehydration and watery stool are all signs that a cat is suffering from feline coccidiosis. Kittens and debilitated cats are prime candidates for its more severe manifestations.
Coccidia is not actually just a cat ailment, dogs can also be affected. Recent surveys suggest that about 37% of cats and dogs are infected by coccidia. They don't, however, all show signs of having contracted it.
Protozoa, which are one celled organisms, are the cause of coccidiosis. These organisms take residence in the intestinal tract of the cat and may cause symptoms that resemble other parasites such as worms.
However, coccidia and worms require different treatments. This makes it very important that you take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as you notice symptoms of intestinal distress, diarrhea, and vomiting.
So, how does your cat get it? Through coming into contact with infected fecal matter. Oocytes, which are immature protozoa, reside in cat stool and mature in the open environment. The longer a cat stool has been to decay, the more the oocytes develop, and the more at risk cats coming into contact with it become. Cats may also acquire coccidiosis from eating mice infected with the protozoan.
There are various things that, as a pet owner, you can do reduce the risk of your cat or dog getting coccidia. You should:
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- Pay attention to where your pet spends most of its time. Where they sleep, eat and play should be clean, tidy and well maintained. Of particular importance is the disposing of stool within a day or two of it appearing.
- Disinfect. It's advisable to move your pet out of the way before proceeding with this. The reason being that the fumes from disinfectants are potentially harmful to animals. You may then spray the area with a disinfectant that contains a considerable amount of ammonia or a little bleach mixed with a good amount of water.
- Not ignore the cleaning of crevices and other hard to reach areas. You should pay close attention to them as many forms of parasites ? oocytes notwithstanding, could make their home there.
- Consider repainting. Repainting the area where your pets live could help destroy coccidian oocytes where they mature.
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