Toxoplasmosis in cats, symptoms, treatment


Toxoplasmosis in cats is caused by protozoa that parasitize inside the body cells (Toxoplasma gondii). The disease is characterized by damage to the liver, nervous and lymphatic systems, muscle tissues and spleen.

An animal can become infected while hunting rodents and eating infected or low-quality meat. And eating a mouse is not necessary at all - contact in the form of games is also sufficient for infection.

Cats have five forms of toxoplasmosis:

  • carrier period;
  • latent;
  • chronic;
  • subacute;
  • acute.

The latent form is understood to be a latent course of the disease, i.e. the host may not notice any changes in the condition of the pet, but oocysts will be released into the environment together with feces. The carriage period is also characterized by an asymptomatic course, but the parasite is still excreted.

The acute course of feline disease is characterized by the following clinical picture:

  1. vomiting;
  2. eye diseases;
  3. seizures;
  4. heart failure;
  5. significant increase in temperature.

In the acute form, the disease is very severe and often ends in the death of the pet. The acute course is gradually replaced by subacute and chronic type of toxoplasmosis.

The course of the pathology in the chronic form is judged by such changes:

  • The depressed state of the cat;
  • emaciation of the body;
  • lack of appetite;
  • paralysis of the limbs;
  • subfebrile fever.

If the female is pregnant, she may miscarry. Kittens are born ugly, not viable or dead at all.


Methods for diagnosing toxoplasmosis in cats

Animals are tested for toxoplasmosis in a variety of ways. A bioassay on laboratory rodents is not always an available option. A good technique is considered a serological test that confirms the presence of parasites in the cat’s body. Classical ways to diagnose toxoplasmosis in cats remain cytological studies and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). But even if the results are negative, the diagnosis is repeated by testing with a different methodology.

Also during the diagnosis, one must take into account that the detection of cysts in the feces is possible during the first 2 to 3 weeks after infection. Therefore the PCR technique does not always give 100% results. An important point is that the cysts have stopped being excreted by the time the early signs of toxoplasmosis appear.

Treatment of toxoplasmosis in cats

Antiparasitic and symptomatic medications for cats are prescribed according to the form of toxoplasmosis and the severity of its course. Previously, treatment was based on a combination of sulfadiazine and pyrimethamine drugs. Modern veterinarians prefer clindamycin (daily doses are calculated as 25-50 mg/kg).

To avoid suppression of synthetic brain function, pyrimethamine therapy is supplemented by prescription of folic acid. The pet is given 5 mg of folic acid daily for the entire course of treatment.

As for prophylaxis, it boils down to performing the following actions:

  1. treatment of the litter tray with a solution of ammonia (10%);
  2. excluding raw meat from the diet;
  3. attaching a bell to the collar (it will interfere with catching birds and rodents)
  4. creating a clean habitat;
  5. providing a nutritious diet;
  6. annual preventive examinations.

What is toxoplasmosis dangerous for pregnant women?

Once in the body of an adult healthy person, toxoplasmosis appears to be locked inside the cells and does not spread. However, during pregnancy in women they become dangerous to the developing embryo. As they penetrate through the placenta, the parasites invade the fetus and provoke miscarriage, pregnancy failure, abnormal development.

If the mother-to-be has never contracted toxoplasmosis, she is advised to limit contact with her pet and to exercise caution when cutting meat. Gloves should be worn to do chores in the garden. Any fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly. If tests show the presence of encapsulated toxoplasmas in the pregnant woman’s body, the immune system will not allow them to penetrate the placenta.