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What are Toxoplasmosis?

While all warm-blooded animals can be intermediate hosts of this disease, only cats are definite hosts. This means that the parasite can only produce eggs while infecting a cat. The parasite multiplies in the intestines and produces millions of eggs which then exit the body in feces. These eggs begin to exit three to ten days after infection has occurred and continue to exit for another 10-14 days thereafter.

The single-celled parasite, Toxoplasma gondii  (Tgondii), can cause infection in virtually all warm-blooded animals. This disease is referred to as toxoplasmosis. Though it is present in 20-60 percent of cats, it only manifests itself as a significant disease in rare cases. Cats with immune deficiencies (such as feline leukemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus or feline infectious peritonitis) and young kittens are the most susceptible to toxoplasmosis. 

Toxoplasmosis Average Cost

From 402 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Toxoplasmosis in Cats

The infection of T. gondii tends to affect many parts of the body including the neural system, the liver and the muscles of the cat. Possible symptoms are as follows:

  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting and diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty eating
  • Inflammation of the eye (both uveitis and retinitis)
  • Abnormal pupils
  • Blindness
  • Personality changes
  • Circling
  • Pressing head against the wall
  • Paralysis
  • Ear twitching
  • Seizures
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Sensitive to touch
  • Muscle pain
  • Incontinence
  • Hepatitis (liver disease) causing jaundice
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Pneumonia
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Causes of Toxoplasmosis in Cats

To become infected and develop toxoplasmosis, the cat must come in contact with T. gondii or its eggs. The eggs can live for 18 months or longer in water or soil. Common causes of exposure include:

  • Contact with parasite outdoors
  • Eating of raw meats infected with T. gondii
  • Hunting of small mammals
  • A bite or scratch from an infected cat
  • Drinking water contaminated by T. gondii
  • Sharing a litter box with an infected cat
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Diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis in Cats

Your veterinarian will need your cat’s complete medical history before attempting diagnosis. They will assess all symptoms present in the cat and compare them with signs of toxoplasmosis. Even though the parasite’s eggs are often present in the fecal matter, it is generally not tested due to results mimicking many other parasitic infections.

A lab test that will generally be performed measures the antibodies in the cat. IgG and IgM (immunoglobulin G and M) are both antibodies that form in the blood after infection from T. gondii. If many IgG antibodies are found, the cat has most likely developed immunity to the parasite. If many IgM antibodies are found, the cat is currently infected and is most likely dispelling eggs. If no antibodies are found, the cat is susceptible to infection but is not currently diseased.

Another test that might be performed is a microscopic examination of tissue impression smears (surface sample). These tests look for distinctive pathological changes and the beginnings of tachyzoite (one of three infectious stages of T. gondii) development.

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Treatment of Toxoplasmosis in Cats

There currently is no cure for toxoplasmosis. Treatment is available to help slow down the process of infection and aid the cat in handling the stages of infection. 

Different antibiotics can be prescribed to disable the progression of parasitic infection. Clindamycin is often prescribed to disseminate the T. gondii organisms. Pyrimethamine along with sulfadiazine or trimethoprim sulphonamide can be administered to stop reproduction of T. gondii. The antibiotics are given immediately and are taken until at least several symptom-free days have passed. If no improvement is seen in three days, rediagnosis may be necessary.

Most cats respond favorably to these treatments. Once again young cats and cats with immune suppression tend to fare worse.

 

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Recovery of Toxoplasmosis in Cats

If you have other cats it is important to take precautions to ensure they also do not become infected. Clean the litter box carefully with scalding water on a daily basis. T. gondii requires one to five days once exited from the cat to become infectious, so daily removal of feces can prevent the spreading of the parasite. Thoroughly wash hands after removal of cat waste. Pregnant women or people undergoing chemotherapy treatment should not handle the litter box as they are vulnerable to toxoplasmosis development.

Keep your cats indoors to prevent contact with the parasite. Also, do not allow your cat to eat raw meats. T. gondii produces cysts in the animals it infects that can spread the disease if eaten. 

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Toxoplasmosis Average Cost

From 402 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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Toxoplasmosis Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Buddy

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Orange tabby

dog-age-icon

10 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Eye Clouding
Cloudy Chest X-Ray

We took a cat in about 6 weeks ago, he was in extremely bad shape (outdoors for years). He tested positive for FIV and toxoplasmosis. He has been quarantined from all of the other cats at all times. Boxes (2) cleaned multiple times a day and sterilized every 3 days. He has completed a round of clindamycin but still has a funky looking eye and his chest x-rays are not too good. We are in NO hurry to let him roam around the house as of yet but my question is - we have MULTIPLE cats in the house - what are the chances of the parasite now getting transmitted to them? We are waiting results of another Toxo test but my understanding is there is an initial infectious period and shedding of oocysts and then the anti-bodies kick in... Really need some clarification due to the (13 other cats).

Aug. 18, 2018

Buddy's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It is true that antibodies will be present in any cat that has been exposed to Toxoplasmosis, and many cats have been exposed but are not affected by the parasite. Because you are worried about 13 other cats, I think it would be safest to wait until you have the results of the Toxoplasmosis and not take any chances.

Aug. 18, 2018

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Phoebe (9), Johnny (9) and Chico (2)

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dsh

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Dehydration

I recently took my outdoor cat to the vet because she was breathing heavily, severely dehydrated, weak, and near death. Vet took blood samples, did x-rays, and eventually gave a diagnosis of Toxoplasmosis. She has responded very well to the antibiotics. Has another week of meds to go. Should I take my other outdoor cat to the vet? He has a bit of a cough. They share a litterbox. Is it possible he has Toxoplasmosis as well? We also have a Chico, our indoor cat. Do we need to worry about him? He has no current symptoms. He had sneezing a few weeks ago, but appears to be fine now.

July 14, 2018

Phoebe (9), Johnny (9) and Chico (2)'s Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

It would be a good idea to have your other cats tested for antibodies to Toxoplasma if they have been sharing a litterbox or have bitten or scratched each other at all. Many cats are exposed to the parasite but develop immunity, and a blood test will be able to determine if they have been exposed or not. The other option that you may have would be to monitor the other two cats for signs of Toxoplasma and have them seen right away if they start showing any signs.

July 14, 2018

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Bonifacy

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Not sure

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Not Eating Much, Barely Moving,

My cat has FIV and was recently diagnosed with taxoplasmosis due to problems with his eye. They had us on treatment taking medication twice a day every 12 hours, but my cat stopped eating and seemed to be barely able to move. They had us take it down to once a day which we did for 2-3 weeks and my cat seemed ok. Now they want us to go back to twice a day for another 3 weeks, and it’s been a few days and my cat went back to acting the same way: not really eating barely moving. Keep in mind the eye symptom was the only one noticed. He’s also on steroids ever since being diagnosed with FIV. Could the dosage be too high or is that a normal result of medication?

July 5, 2018

Bonifacy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Toxoplasmosis is typically treated with clindamycin for two to three weeks which may result in side effects including vomiting and diarrhoea, lethargy may occur but isn’t common; treatment also includes corticosteroids which may have an effect on multiple organ systems especially in an FIV positive cat. You should discuss this with your Veterinarian and discuss diagnosis and treatment. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM www.msdvetmanual.com/generalized-conditions/toxoplasmosis/overview-of-toxoplasmosis www2.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/toxoplasmosis-cats

July 6, 2018

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Sneeze

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Ragdoll

dog-age-icon

6 Months

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

Fair severity

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

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Sneezing
Runny Eyes
Swollen Glands
Black Area On Tongue

I just got this cat 2 months ago. He's a very happy guy, and acts totally normal. I took him to get neutered a week ago. Today I noticed a black area on his tongue that I hadn't seen before. He's always been a little sneezy (hence the name), and had little crusties on his eyes that I clean daily. I thought maybe his glands were swollen before, but since he's been acting fine I didn't think much of it. The black on his tongue however had me a bit more concerned. Could he have contracted something while at the vet, or has he always had this? I have another cat, but she does not have any of these symptoms. I'm very worried about him and would just like to know if he will be okay, and if anyone has an idea of what might be causing this? Will his symptoms worsen before I can get him checked out?

April 15, 2018

Sneeze's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

Sneeze may be affected by a viral disease, and may benefit from medical therapy for that to help him feel better. Some animals do have pigment on their gums and tongues, and it may be nothing to worry about, but since you are not sure if it is normal, it might be a good idea to have an exam with your veterinarian, to assess his sneezing, and to have the black spot looked at. There isn't anything that he would have picked up while being neutered that would cause that, and you will feel better if they tell you that it is normal pigment.

April 15, 2018

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Healthy

dog-breed-icon

domestic short hair

dog-age-icon

3 Months

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Seiz, Blindness, Disoriented

Hello! We have a stray kitty that we found on the street. She's been living with us for about 1.5 months. Last Thursday she started to behave disoriented and partially or completely blind. On Sunday at 1am she had seizure. We took her to Emergency Clinic. They Put her on Clindamycin and Keppra for seizure prevention. We picked her up this morning and took to a neurologist. She said doing MRI is waste of money and she would put the kitty down. The kitty is 3 months old. I wanted a second opinion, so we managed to get another appointment in different clinic. The neurologist didn't tell us to necessary put her down. He told us that we can keep going with Clindomycin for another 2-3 weeks. But he said that since kitty is that young, chances are next to none. And none of them knows the exact cause of blindness or seizure. Kitty has good appetite, and can walk. But doesn't recognize me or my wife anymore and avoids contact, especially when somebody tries to touch her head. Doctors stated that she hissed when they tried to touch her. However, I think she tried to defend herself, since she's been to 3 hospitals and dozen of doctors/nurses in 2 days. She is not aggressive at home but she still look disoriented . Another vet suggested Albon could help her brain too. I want to give this little one a chance, since she's been through a lot already(burnt paws, prolapsed rectum). We keep her isolated in a cage in a separate room, since we have 2 of our own cats. Would you give her time to try to fight whatever her disease is? Is it still worth spending a lot of money on MRI? Thank you P.S. Looks like her vision got better, she reacts to movement sometimes Kitty has whip worms and was prescribed Panacur

Jan. 16, 2018

Healthy's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

If the kitty isn’t showing any signs of distress and the treatment isn’t having any impact on her overall welfare I would try treating for what your Veterinarian(s) believe may be the cause for these symptoms; many issues may cause these symptoms from head trauma, congenital anomalies (cerebellar hypoplasia), poisoning among other causes. You can give kitty time to recover, but I agree that an MRI would be wasteful unless something specific was suspected which could be treated or managed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Jan. 16, 2018

Please follow up with this thread. Your kittens symptoms sound a lot like my stray kitten. He was diagnosed with Toxoplasmosis from displaying fever of unknown origin, lethargy, not eating, etc. Had blood work to rule out FIP and they called and said Toxoplasmosis and gave me Clindamycin and said give it to him and his sister for four weeks. He has been on it a week and seemed a little better but not by much. I am sure he had two seizures today. The first one I thought someone scared him but the second time he flopped around and layer down like exhausted. What was your outcome. He has me scared and his Vet is not in. Emergency Vet (MedVets) is an hour away.

Feb. 12, 2018

Rhi J.


Thank you for your advice! She started to feel better today. She meowed for the first time, since she went blind, she recognizes us, she tries to get out from the cage and wants us to pet her. Yesterday she didn't let anybody to touch her, especially her head. We set up an appointment with another neurologist in our area, since kitty is showing signs of progress.

Jan. 17, 2018

Healthy's Owner

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Chase

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tabby

dog-age-icon

2 Years

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Seizures

I have a cat. Chase, who was diagnosed with Toxo. Vet said to start Clindomysin. I am scared. I dont want him to have the side effects. I have another cat so should I put him in a huge cage for the safety of my other cat? He has had 2 seizures since May. He is a rescue.

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All 3 of them

dog-breed-icon

dsh

dog-age-icon

6 Months

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Diarrhea

I adopted 3 cats (2 natural born sisters and one a littermate) the first of Aug 2019 from a disgusting rescue (Dirty Little Paws) - name really fits. 2/3 have tested positive for Toxo, currently on antibiotics. They are not exhibiting clinical signs, the only thing that led me to test was the crappy conditions of the rescue (dirty, gross) and that they had diarrhea from day one of me bringing them home with VERY VERY smelly gas!! I knew something was wrong. I submitted my own PCR test by taking a sample and sending it to RAL labs in Allen, TX (vetdna.com). Full diarrhea panel was $95 vs the $450+ the vet wanted to charge me for EACH cat!! You don't need to pay the prices the Vet is charging to run a full diarrhea panel - they're ridiculous!

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Oreo

dog-breed-icon

Kitten

dog-age-icon

4 Weeks

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

Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Blindness, Disorientation

My 4 weeks inhouse Persian kitten is extremely sensitive to touch and refused to be petted. She is disoriented and banging her head against walls, like partial blindness. She is under observation at an emergency vet clinic, Dr suspect it to be toxo. We're really worried about her condition until reports come tomorrow. Could you please suggest what are the chances of her survival and recovery? Is blindness permanent? Would she be able to see in future? Pls suggest

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Elmae

dog-breed-icon

American Short-Hair

dog-age-icon

10 Months

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

Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Lethargic
Sensitive To Touch
Hesitant To Jump

My 10 month old kitten started to act strangely and was more lethargic than normal after a trip to the mountains. She would yelp out in pain and was extremely sensitive to touch. 2 different vets could not find anything wrong on x-rays or blood tests. They thought perhaps toxo and gave her clindamycin and prednisolone. She ultimately got back to normal but is starting to show signs again. She appears otherwise healthy. How often does this infection come back and what would make it reactivate?

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catalina

dog-breed-icon

tabby

dog-age-icon

1 Year

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

Critical severity

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0 found helpful

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

Critical severity

Has Symptoms

Weakness
Not Eating
Lack Of Appetite
Weak Bladder
Back Legs Not Working
Loss Of Control Urinating

We got catalina from a shelter a year ago, she was a normal, happy, playful kitten, but slowly started to not use her back legs, her walking became strange-looking and wobbly, then she started to not walk at all. she was diagnosed with toxo and was put on antibiotics twice. it worked both times but it came back worse each time, and shes now worse than shes ever been. shes not eating, shes peeing on herself, getting litter stuck in her paws, shes not walking, shes not drinking - we are greatly concerned and any help would be appreciated!

Toxoplasmosis Average Cost

From 402 quotes ranging from $500 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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