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Cryptosporidiosis in Cats

By: Dr. Arnold Plotnick

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Cryptosporidiosis is an important cause of gastroenteritis and diarrhea in a variety of animal species, including humans. It is caused by a ubiquitous protozoan of the genus Cryptosporidium. The most common species of Cryptosporidium affecting domestic mammals is Cryptosporidium parvum.

Cryptosporidiosis may be a primary disease, although it is often seen as a secondary disorder in cats and people with compromised immune systems. Crowding and unsanitary conditions increase the risk of exposure. Young cats may be more susceptible to infection.

The impact of the disease tends to be minimal in cats that have a competent immune system. Immunocompromised cats, however, may develop clinical signs after infection.

What to Watch For

  • Diarrhea
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss

    Diagnosis

  • Fecal examination
  • Serology
  • Animal inoculation
  • Intestinal biopsy

    Treatment

    In some cases, no treatment is necessary. For others, treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics
  • High fiber diet
  • Supportive therapy

    Home Care and Prevention

    Administer all medications as prescribed. Try to disinfect any contaminated area but this may be difficult to do. Boil any water collected in the field for drinking and clean the litter box frequently to reduce exposure to infected feces.

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