What is Ameba Infection?
This ameba irritates the lining of the cat’s intestines, leading to a great deal of discomfort. Cats with an ameba infection will have diarrhea, often with blood or mucus in the stools. Diarrhea can quickly dehydrate your cat and cause serious health complications, which is why it’s so important for you to act quickly and take your cat to a veterinarian as soon as possible after you spot these symptoms.
The medical term for an ameba infection is amebiasis. There are many different species of amebas, but the one that can affect your cat is known as Entamoeba histolytica. Cats that live in tropical areas or in North America are most at risk of developing this serious infection. Cats can be infected with this parasite after consuming contaminated food or water, however, symptoms may not begin for another two to four weeks following the initial exposure.
Symptoms of Ameba Infection in Cats
Sometimes, a cat can become infected with Entamoeba histolytica and remain unharmed. However, other cats will develop an infection and begin to exhibit symptoms between 2-4 weeks after the first exposure to the parasite. Some of the symptoms you may notice in affected cats include:
- Bloody diarrhea
- Mucus in diarrhea
- Pain in the abdomen
- Over time, cats may have the urge to defecate but find it hard to pass feces
Causes of Ameba Infection in Cats
Amebiasis is caused by Entamoeba histolytica, which is a type of ameba. This species can affect all mammals, including humans, cats, and dogs. A cat may become infected with an ameba infection after eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with either the cysts or mobile forms of the parasite.
Diagnosis of Ameba Infection in Cats
If you begin to notice any of these symptoms in your cat, you will need to take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Discuss the symptoms you have observed and when they first began with your vet. The vet will also need to know your cat’s medical history and whether you have made any changes to your cat’s diet.
Basic tests including a complete blood count, urinalysis, and blood chemistry profile will be taken to check your cat’s overall health. Because your cat has lost a lot of fluid through his bowel movements, these tests will also tell the vet if your cat is dehydrated.
Prior to bringing your cat in, the vet may ask that you collect a stool sample for him to test. If you are unable to do so, the stool sample can be taken at the vet’s office. The sample will be examined underneath a microscope so the vet can look for signs of the parasite. However, not every stool sample will contain visible parasites. It’s possible your vet will need to take several stool samples over the next few days in order to confirm the diagnosis.
Some vets may prefer performing a colonoscopy and taking a scraping of the affected area instead of examining a stool sample. It’s usually much easier to spot parasites using this method, but it is more invasive.
Treatment of Ameba Infection in Cats
Once a diagnosis has been confirmed, the vet will administer a medication designed to eliminate parasites from the cat’s system. The most common types of medication given to cats with this kind of ameba infection are metronidazole or furazolidone. If the cat is still having diarrhea, the vet may administer a medication designed to prevent or slow down bowel movements.
Cats that have an ameba infection are often severely dehydrated because of the diarrhea. If your cat is in this condition, the vet may need to provide IV fluids to help him regain his strength. The vet may need to keep your cat overnight to keep an eye on his electrolyte imbalances and ensure he is in a stable condition prior to releasing him to you.
Recovery of Ameba Infection in Cats
Be sure to follow the vet’s directions closely and administer all medication as instructed. As your cat recovers, keep him as comfortable as possible. Bring his food and water bowls to him so he doesn’t have to move far. Keep other animals that may be infected away from your cat at all times.
Monitor your cat’s symptoms throughout his treatment. If you do not notice signs of improvement, or if your cat’s condition worsens, take him to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Treatment may last for a few weeks. After you have given your cat all of the prescribed medication, take him in for a follow-up visit with the veterinarian. The vet will likely retest his stool to see if parasites are still present. As long as you begin treatment fairly quickly after seeing the symptoms, your cat should fully recover from this infection.