Coccidia in cats are small one-celled organisms called protozoans that are very contagious. They cause an infection in the intestinal tract that results in feline coccidiosis. Kittens that are less than six months old are usually affected since their immune systems aren’t fully developed yet. However, adult cats with a compromised immune system can also be affected. So, how are these protozoans transmitted to your cat?
Infected kittens and cats pass immature coccidia in their stool. If your cat is around these feces and ingests the coccidia, they will infect the intestinal tract and start to multiply. Most kittens become infected when around their infected mother’s feces. Mice can also ingest these protozoans and infect your cat if he eats one.
Coccidia in cats start causing symptoms about two weeks after ingestion. The most prominent symptom of this disease is diarrhea. Depending on how advanced the infection is, your cat can experience either mild or severe diarrhea.
Common signs of a severe infection include loss of appetite and vomiting. Diarrhea coupled with vomiting can quickly lead to life-threatening dehydration, especially in younger cats. The disease proves to be fatal in some cases.
Intestinal parasites like worms can be diagnosed by examining a stool sample. Worm eggs are much easier to detect than immature coccidia in cats. Therefore, the veterinarian will have to examine the stool sample closely. Sometimes, this disease will have to be diagnosed with a blood test.
If your cat is diagnosed with coccidiosis, he will have to take antibiotics. They are usually given for up to two weeks to ensure the infection is treated successfully. Also, it’s common for cats to become infected again when exposed to the same environment. Therefore, disinfecting the environment with bleach and water will help prevent coccidia in cats.