Treating Giardia in Cats

Giardia is an intestinal parasite and can be found in cats, dogs or humans. Giardia in cats doesn't present a lot of symptoms but may weaken the pet's immune system. The treatment is simple and recommended to keep your cat healthy and to prevent you from getting the parasite.

Symptoms of Giardia

Giardia in cats may often be asymptomatic; however, it can cause diarrhea, weight loss and fever. Even if your cat loses weight, he has a good appetite. The diarrhea is very liquid, fatty, with a strong unpleasant odor and has a light color. Cats with weaker immune system (i.e. kittens or older cats) will show signs of Giardia, but usually cats with a low number of parasites will have no symptoms

Forms of Giardia in Cats

Giardia is a parasite and may take two forms in cats: the swimming trophozites and the cysts that contain trophozites. The cysts are very resistant, having a protective coat; they may survive in soil or feces for several weeks.

Giardia is spread through the cysts, which are present in the infected animal's feces. The parasites reside in the small intestines where they divide into several organisms and some of these may be eliminated.

Treating Cats with Giardia

A vet can determine the existence of Giardia in your cat by analyzing the feces. However, the result might not be conclusive, as the cysts of trophozites are not always present in the feces of an infected animal. Repeated tests will be needed or special tests that can detect the Giardia antigens in the feces.

The most common treatment for Giardia in cats is metronidazole. This is not recommended if your cat is expecting kittens. An alternative treatment option is the fenbendazole, which can help your cat eliminate the parasites.

The treatment is short and efficient in the majority of cases. The parasites are less likely to reappear after the treatment. Proper cat hygiene will also keep these parasites away.

Preventing Giardia

Keeping your household clean is a sure way to keep parasites away. Even if your cat plays outside, an appropriate hygiene will prevent the occurrence of Giardia. Usually, Giardia is not present in clean cats and clean households. You may also administrate your cat metronidazole on a regular basis, as it has no side-effects and can prevent the formation of parasites.

Giardia may be transmitted to humans, because the Giardia cysts may be present in the cat fur. So if you detect this parasite in your cat, make sure to get proper treatment for yourself.