Feline coccidia is a microscopic protozoan organism, found in many environments.  Until more recent times the only way to determine if a cat or kitten had coccidia was to test using fecal flotation.  The veterinarian would take a small fecal sample, put it in a plastic container made especially for the float and place a microscope slide on the container.  In a short time, the slide taken and viewed under microscope.  The vet tech or veterinarian himself would look for the coccidia organisms or oocysts.

Now, in more modern times we have PCR testing that covers many types of organisms when sent to a lab.

The symptoms of a coccidia infection are like many other intestinal problems.   It makes sense to do PCR testing and have a definitive answer so the cat or kitten may be treated correctly and gotten rid of the issue quickly.

Feline Coccidia viewed under a microscope

Photo of feline coccidia under a high-powered microscope

Now, in more modern times we have PCR testing that covers many types of organisms when sent to a lab.

The symptoms of a coccidia infection are like many other intestinal problems.   It makes sense to do PCR testing and have a definitive answer so the cat or kitten may be treated correctly and gotten rid of the issue quickly.

Like salmonella, giardia and a subform of coccidia called toxoplasmosis the symptoms are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Mucus or blood in the stool

Older cats can shed oocysts in their feces yet remain asymptomatic until stressed. Stools that contain immature protozoa (oocytes) are harmless until allowed to mature in an open environment. The longer cat stool can decay, the more chance the oocytes have to develop. Oocysts that have formed spores can survive as long as one year in moist, protected environments.  Kittens and cats contract coccidia from infected fecal matter.  Birds, rats, mice can shed oocysts and also if ingested can cause problems.  Actually, the most common way kittens get it is from a parent cat’s fecal matter, so it’s important to scoop litter boxes often.

Coccidia is very dangerous to young kittens and the more delicate systems of older cats.  While waiting for an exact diagnosis, quarantine the kittens or cats suspected of infection.

Until test results are back supportive treatment is recommended.  Fluids, anti-diarrheal and probiotics help infected cats.  Once your veterinarian has results from the testing, most likely treatment with the newest treatment on the market can be compounded especially for the weight of a cat or kitten.

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LSL