Toxoplasmosis in Cats
Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, which can be found in garden soil and raw meat. Cats can get toxoplasma infection by killing and eating infected prey. The disease can also be passed on from cats to humans.
How Do Cats Get Toxoplasmosis?
Cats most often become carriers of toxoplasmosis by killing and eating wild animals who have been infected-a good reason not to let your cat outside to hunt! A cat may also contract the disease should he come into contact with an infected cat's feces. Once a cat is infected, the parasite multiplies in his intestines until immature eggs called oocysts are shed in his feces. Infected cats can shed oocysts for up to two weeks after initial infection.
What Are the Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis in Cats?
Most cats become immune to the disease through exposure to the parasite. However, those who aren't already immune may have mild diarrhea and a loss of appetite; the disease can also affect a feline's lungs, liver and nervous system. Kittens exposed to the parasite while still in the womb are most vulnerable-and are more likely than adult cats to show symptoms.
What Should I Do If My Cat Has Toxoplasmosis?
If you suspect your cat is carrying the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, it's time to get him tested by your veterinarian. If he tests positive, it means he has been exposed to the disease but is unlikely to be shedding oocysts after an initial two-week period. If he tests negative, it means he has not been exposed and could still become infected and shed oocysts-but again only for two weeks.
Cats who are capable of shedding eggs should be isolated from children and other pets, pregnant moms and any immunocompromised people in the household. Also, be sure to clean his litter box and bedding twice each day while wearing disposable gloves.