What are Tritrichomonas foetus?
Tritrichomonas foetus typically accumulates as protozoa in the small intestine of cats. The organism that causes the disease will reproduce by shedding, creating an ever growing population of parasites that will continue to endanger your cat’s health without appropriate treatment.
Tritrichomonas foetus in cats is a highly contagious disease that tends to affect cats that live in catteries, shelters or other areas with multiple animals. Given Tritrichomonas foetus’ ease of travel between affected felines, it can spread rapidly in contained environments. If one cat in a household is diagnosed with Tritrichomonas Foetus in, chances are all of the household cats, or cats that share the same litter box, are affected. This is true regardless of whether the other cats are showing symptoms yet.
Symptoms of Tritrichomonas foetus in Cats
While some cats suffering from Tritrichomonas foetus can remain asymptomatic, meaning they show no symptoms of disease, there are common signs you should watch out for. These may include:
- Loose stool
- Stools may be smelly
- Weight loss
- May affect younger or immunocompromised cats more frequently
Causes of Tritrichomonas foetus in Cats
Tritrichomonas foetus in Cats is caused by a parasite that shares the same name as the condition. Technically, Tritrichomonas foetus is a protozoan. Protozoa can be parasitic, and this is the case in Tritrichomonas foetus. Protozoa are single celled organisms which multiply by shedding off additional cells which grow to form new organisms.
Tritrichomonas foetus is transferred from cat to cat, typically through use of a shared litter box. Cats will step in litter affected with the parasite and then will become affected themselves when they groom, or lick their paws. Tritrichomonas foetus can survive in the stomach and grows and reproduces in the intestinal tract. Many times, there will be no outward signs or symptoms of Tritrichomonas foetus in healthy, adult cats. Younger cats tend to display symptoms of infection more frequently. It is important to note that just because the symptoms may resolve, this does not mean your cat is cured of the condition.
Diagnosis of Tritrichomonas foetus in Cats
To start the diagnosis of Tritrichomonas foetus in your cat, your veterinarian will first complete a physical exam. You vet may go over in detail the stomach area of your cat and palpate, or gently press on the abdomen. This will help determine any areas of particular sensitivity and rule out other conditions.
Your veterinarian will also want to run a test called a fecal smear, in order to positively identify Tritrichomonas foetus and differentiate the infection by this protozoan from other organisms. Tritrichomonas foetus can often be confused with symptoms of an infection by Giardia, another parasitic organism. Treatment of Tritrichomonas foetus is different than the treatment of Giardia, and it is important that your vet uses the fecal slide and analysis to determine which parasitic infection, if any, your cat may have.
Treatment of Tritrichomonas foetus in Cats
The treatment of Tritrichomonas foetus in your cat will typically involve medication. Tritrichomonas foetus in Cats will be treated with drugs in a class called antiprotozoals. These are different from antibiotics or drugs used to treat parasitic infections with similar symptoms but different causes.
The most common antiprotozoal drug used to treat Tritrichomonas foetus in cats is called ronidazole. The medication has few side effects and will begin to take effect in as little as several days. Ronidazole works by eliminating the protozoan’s ability to shed or reproduce, thus stopping the cycle of infection. During treatment, infected cats should be kept separately from non-affected cats. You should consider taking all cats in a household with a diagnosed case of Tritrichomonas foetus for veterinary examination given the contagious nature of the infection.
Recovery of Tritrichomonas foetus in Cats
While Tritrichomonas foetus in cats is highly contagious and can produce serious side effects, the good news is that the condition is highly treatable and offers a positive prognosis for full recovery. During the initial stages of treatment with an antiprotozoal medication, your cat may still display some symptoms of disease.
As the medication begins to take effect, your cat’s loose, smelly stools will begin to subside. When the last of the organisms are no longer able to produce and have died off, your cat will be fully cured. It is important to have the other cats in the household examined that could have been exposed to Tritrichomonas foetus. Even if you successfully treat one cat in an affected household, if another is infected they may pass the protozoan on to healthy, recovered cats, after treatment with medication has been finalized.
Tritrichomonas foetus Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
16 week old kitten TTF positive, currently being treated with ronidazole, day 6 of 14 day treatment. Diarrhoea has returned after being asymptomatic for 5 days. Good hydration, no change of diet. No weight gain in 3 days.
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