Feline giardiasis is a condition caused by an infection of a protozoan parasite. The parasite infects the intestines and commonly leads to diarrhea in cats. Although the infection and diarrhea in itself isn’t that serious, the dehydration that can result can definitely be life-threatening.
The parasite that causes giardiasis in cats resides in the intestinal walls where it reproduces. The cysts, or offspring, are shed through feces, then cats get infected when they come into contact with the feces. The parasite can also be waterborne so cats can get infected by drinking contaminated water. Once inside, the parasite attaches to the intestinal wall and repeats the process.
As mentioned, the main sign of cat giardiasis is diarrhea. This can appear out of nowhere all of a sudden. It sometimes goes away after a short while, while other cats have to deal with issues on a chronic basis. The stool may also have an odor or be a different color or texture than usual. Other signs of an infection include weight loss, lethargy, and vomiting.
Diarrhea is a sign of many different health problems, some serious while others minor. You will want to get your cat checked out sooner rather than later regardless, especially since dehydration can become a problem. Diagnosis of feline giardiasis involves ruling out possible other causes of the diarrhea such as inflammatory bowel disease or improper digestion. The parasite can many times be detected by testing a stool sample.
Many cats dealing with giardiasis develop dehydration as well thanks to the vomiting and diarrhea. Intravenous fluids can be provided to combat this problem. Medications may also be provided in an effort to rid your cat of the parasite. Be aware that the parasite can also infest the cat’s fur, so a thorough bathing will also be necessary.