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What is Coccidia?

Most cats will come in contact with coccidia sometime in their life. The majority of adult cats are immune to the infectious disease that coccidia can cause, called “coccidiosis”. Kittens under six months of age and cats suffering from conditions that hinder their immune system may contract coccidiosis. This rare infection can cause serious effects and, in extreme cases, may even be fatal. Kittens who are infected with coccidiosis are contagious and can infect the rest of the litter. The most common parasite to cause coccidiosis in cats is Isospora  felis. Veterinary attention is needed to ease symptoms and rid the cat of the parasitic infestation.

Coccidia are a group of single-celled parasites called “protozoa”. Cats are susceptible to infection from a number of these parasites, including Isospora, Toxoplasma, Sarcocystis, Besnoitia and Hammondia. Coccidia lodge in the intestinal wall and form cysts. Some of these protozoa require more than one host to complete their development. Once inside the body, it can take up to two weeks for the parasites to mature and begin to reproduce. Coccidia are found throughout the world.

Coccidia Average Cost

From 509 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

Symptoms of Coccidia in Cats

Kittens may start to show symptoms of coccidiosis from the ages of two weeks to six months. The stress of the weaning process can leave a kitten vulnerable to developing a parasitic infection. Signs to watch for are as follows:

  • Watery diarrhea (may contain blood)
  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Uveitis (inflammation of the uvea)
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Causes of Coccidia in Cats

To become infected with coccidia, a cat must come into direct contact with the parasite. Kittens are often exposed to the protozoa from their mother's feces (as adult cats often contain the parasites without showing any symptoms). All known causes of parasite exposure are listed below.

  • Direct contact with infected feces
  • Hunting and eating rodents that contain protozoa in its resting stages
  • Ingesting contaminated soil

Susceptibility is increased in cats with immune deficiencies or who are experiencing stress.

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Diagnosis of Coccidia in Cats

If your cat or kitten begins to exhibit any of the symptoms of coccidiosis, bring it to a veterinary clinic or animal hospital immediately. Be prepared to provide the cat's full medical history, especially if it is an adult cat with immune system issues. The veterinarian will perform a complete physical examination of the cat, watching for known signs of coccidiosis. 

The most common way to diagnose a parasitic infection in a cat is by taking a sample of the cat's feces and sending it for microscopic examination. During this examination, larval or adult coccidia may be identified. As these protozoa are exceptionally small, if a microscopic examination comes back negative, there is no guarantee that your cat or kitten is not infected. Blood work will be run, including a complete blood count and a biochemical profile to assess the cat's overall condition. Certain parasites may also be identified via blood smears. If the infected cat is an adult, feline viruses that negatively affect the immune system, such as feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus, should be tested for. 

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Treatment of Coccidia in Cats

In some kittens or adult cats, coccidiosis may spontaneously go away on its own. In severe cases, both symptomatic and causative treatments may be needed.

Antibiotics 

A course of antibiotics such as Sulfadimethoxine, Trimethoprim-Sulfonamide or Amprolium can stop the coccidia from reproducing. Up to two weeks of oral administration is needed.

Supportive Care 

If the infected cat has become severely dehydrated, hospitalization and intravenous fluids may be needed to stabilize its condition. 

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Recovery of Coccidia in Cats

Be sure to isolate your adult cat or kitten from other cats during antibiotic treatment. Reinfection can easily happen, so extra sanitation measures should be taken. Clean all litter boxes at least once a day. Most coccidia need at least 24 hours outside of a host to infect another animal, so removing feces from the litter daily can prevent the parasites from re-entering your cat. Disinfect the litter boxes weekly using hot water and bleach. 

Take extra care when monitoring the health of kittens to identify cases of coccidiosis before the infection has progressed too far. Test any pregnant cats for protozoa so that kittens may be treated after birth. Most coccidia can not spread to humans. The most common coccidia, I. felis poses no threat to owners. Infections of Toxoplasma or Cryptosporidium may present a small risk to pregnant women and any human who has a suppressed immune system.

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Coccidia Average Cost

From 509 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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Coccidia Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Cat

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Seven Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

Watery diarrhoea, still eating and playful but watery diarrhoea with foul smell

Sept. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

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Kittens name is Sasha other adult cats names are Ivan and Vera

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DOMESTIC

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8 Weeks

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Mild severity

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4 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

None

I just got a kitten from Petco and she was diagnosed with coccidia . I have 2 other adult cat in the house hold . They have been using the same litter box . I do clean out my litter boxes at least once daily . What are the chances that my adult cat have gotten coccidia ? My problem is that I can't afford to take them both to the vet right now . Is there anything that I can get at the store or on line to treat them ?

Aug. 19, 2018

Kittens name is Sasha other adult cats names are Ivan and Vera's Owner

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4 Recommendations

Many older cats are asymptomatic (don’t show symptoms) and treatment is debated since Coccidiosis may be self limiting; treatment of cats is down to your Veterinarian and if your kitten has been diagnosed you should discuss with your Veterinarian. The article below covers Coccidiosis is in dogs and cats and will give you a better idea. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/digestive-system/coccidiosis/coccidiosis-of-cats-and-dogs

Aug. 19, 2018

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Coccidia Average Cost

From 509 quotes ranging from $200 - $500

Average Cost

$250

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