Toxoplasmosis in cats is found throughout the North American continent as well as most parts of the world, including Europe.
It can affect any warm blooded animal, including humans, and can cause disease in most animals, but it is particularly dangerous to cats.
Once your cat is infected, it can rapidly spread throughout their body and cause serious and life threatening damages.
However, perhaps the largest danger with Toxoplasmosis infection is that it can be spread from your cat via their litter box to pregnant women.
It can also be spread to any human that has any type of an immune compromised condition.
This infection is extremely dangerous and it is estimated that only sixty percent of all cats that are infected will survive it.
Toxoplasmosis in cats is an infection of a parasitic protozoa referred to as Toxoplasma gondii, or T. gondii.
This parasite is found in two places; under-cooked or raw meat, as well as the in the feces of your cat.
Although it is considered to be a very serious threat in cats, this is not where the real danger lies.
The real dangers lie with pregnant women, children, as well as adults with an immune compromised condition such as AIDS that may come into contact with infected cat feces.
It has been estimated that over 30 percent of the cat population worldwide may be infected with this parasite.
In fully understanding Toxoplasmosis in cats, it is extremely helpful for owners to understand how it transmitted.
Although it can infect other animals, it has one primary host or target; your cat.
Cats are the only animal where the infection can survive and be passed through the feces. Once you cat has become infected, the parasites reproductive form lives in your cats intestines.
They then lay egg-like forms, referred to as oocysts, which are immature and exit your cat’s body via their feces.
These egg-like forms must survive in the environment for a period of one to five days before they actually become infective to humans.
However, there is another very interesting fact about this parasite; your cat can only pass it for ten to fourteen days after they are infected.
After this time frame, they can no longer pass it into the environment. That is the good news.
The bad news is that once it is in the environment, it can live literally for several years. However, that is just half of the bad news, as it is extremely resistant to most all form of disinfectants.
While most major disinfectants are extremely effective in killing bacteria and parasites, this one is very difficult to kill.
Once these eggs-like forms are cast out, they are very easily ingested by other intermediate hosts including rodents, birds, as well as dogs, but they can also be ingested by humans.
Once they are in these intermediate hosts, they travel to two points; the muscles as well as the brain.
In most cases, dogs and humans are infected by eating raw or under cooked meat.
However, if you accidentally touch infected cat feces without protection, you can very easily become infected.
Toxoplasmosis in cats does not have one specific disease or condition that it causes; instead there are several.
In mild cases it may only cause a fever, a loss of appetite, or depression in your cat, but this will all depend on what part of your cat’s body becomes infected.
If the T. gondii migrates to your cat’s eye, it can cause severe inflammation to develop.
If it goes to your cats lungs, it can cause pneumonia. If it migrates to their heart, it can cause arrhythmia.
However, this is only the beginning, as it can and does commonly migrate to your cats digestive tract or their nervous system.
If it attacks your cats’ digestive system, it can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, as well as severe abdominal pain.
In rare cases, it can also cause jaundice to occur.
If it migrates to your cat’s nervous system, it is considered to be extremely dangerous.
Once here it can easily cause seizures, a very sudden paralysis, as well as the loss of several of your cat’s muscular functions.
To put in bluntly, toxoplasmosis in cats can be a very serious and life threatening set of diseases or conditions.
If your cat has any type of a depressed or challenged immune system, they may not survive this attack.
Diagnosis and Treatments
Toxoplasmosis in cats, as severe as it can be, is actually very easy for your veterinarian to diagnose.
However, there are some other some very pertinent facts about this infection that are helpful.
Once your cat does start to show you any of the symptoms, in most every case they are no longer passing any of the egg-like forms.
Even if they were, it is perfectly safe to handle your cat. It is absolutely impossible for this infection to be passed from your cat to you unless you touch their infected feces.
You cannot become infected in any other way.
In diagnosing Toxoplasmosis, your veterinarian will take a blood sample and run a test to measure the antibodies to the amounts of T. gondii in their blood.
There was originally some speculation that you could determine if your cat was infected by examining their feces.
As gross as it sounds, there are almost also some type of parasite that can be found in their feces.
Because of this, this is the only reliable method and it very effective.
Once it is diagnosed, there is an effective form of treatment, but here is where there is more bad news about Toxoplasmosis in cats.
It is estimated that only about sixty percent of all cats that are treated will survive.
If your cat has a weak or compromised immune system, their chances of surviving are guarded at best.
The most commonly used method of treatment is with an antibiotic called clindamycin. There have been other drugs tested, but this has demonstrated to be the most effective.
Toxoplasmosis in cats can never fully be prevented, but it can be protected against in most cases.
There is one side of the argument that suggests you should never feed your cat raw meat or bones, and although this is a fast growing trend, this is one risk that you cannot ignore.
The other side suggests that your cat’s stomach is very acidic and can easily destroy most parasites.
That may be true with most bacteria and parasites, but this one is very different and only you can make this decision.
However, by no means should you allow your cat to roam and get into any type of garbage.
Fresh raw meat prepared properly is one thing; spoiled raw meat is an entirely different subject.
If you are pregnant, as much as you love your cat, never, under any circumstance, clean their litter box. Have your friends, spouse, or even pay someone to clean it.
Even if you are fully protected, risking your health or your unborn child is not worth the risk.
Toxoplasmosis in cats is a very real and dangerous infection and it has only two modes of infection in people; raw meat and cat feces.
If you do feed your cat a raw diet, are you placing them at a higher degree of risk? Only you can answer this question.