Symptoms of Coccidia in Cats

Coccidia in cats are one-celled parasites that live in the intestinal lining of animals and cause an infection known as coccidiosis. Symptoms of coccidia are usually seen in kittens less than 6 months of age or adult cats with weak immune systems, but coccidia can be present in cats of any age and breed. Many cats can be infected with coccidia but show no symptoms. Coccidiosis can be easily treated if feline coccidia are detected early and medication is prescribed.

Symptoms of Coccidiosis

Signs that your cat is infected with coccidia include diarrhea that can be watery or bloody, dehydration, vomiting and loss of appetite. Kittens are most likely to become infected and the disease can spread quickly between groups of pets. Kittens with diarrhea and other symptoms of coccidiosis should be treated as soon as possible to prevent dehydration, which will occur much more quickly in young cats than adults and cause serious problems, including death.

How Feline Coccidia Is Spread

Feline coccidia are passed onto cats through infected stool or a contaminated environment such as dirt that an animal ingests. Cats that appear healthy may be infected with coccidia and pass the parasite through their stool, so it is important to always keep your home, yards and kennels as clean and hygienic as possible. Infection may also occur when a mouse that has been in contact with contaminated stool or dirt becomes infected and then passes on the coccidia when a cat eats the mouse.

Diagnosing and Treating Coccidiosis

Your veterinarian can diagnose the presence of coccidia with a stool sample from your kitten or cat. The parasite cannot be seen with the naked eye and diagnosis requires testing in a vet's office. Stool testing should be conducted each year in all cats, healthy or sick, to diagnose any parasites that may be present.

Coccidiosis is usually treated with an antibiotic to prevent the growth of coccidia and allow your cat to build up immunity to the parasite. Dehydration may also be treated with fluids. All treatments should be prescribed by your veterinarian. Always follow your vet's instructions and continue the treatment for as long as your vet has prescribed, even if symptoms appear to have cleared to avoid future infections.

Preventing Coccidiosis

Hygiene is essential to prevent coccidia from infecting other animals. Homes with multiple cats should take extra precautions to maintain a clean environment and prevent diseases and parasites from spreading.

  • Clean up any fecal matter in your yard or home at least once each day and dispose of it properly
  • Treat all cats in your home if one animals becomes infected
  • Disinfect food and water bowls
  • Disinfect any surfaces your cat is in contact with, such as floors, kennels, cages and pet carriers, making sure to keep the pets away from any chemicals used to disinfect these surfaces
  • Prevent your cat from hunting mice that may carry disease and parasites
  • Build up immunity in your cats with proper nutrition and maintaining a stress-free environment