Feline toxoplasmosis is an illness that cat owners may not understand or even know exists, even if their pet has regular veterinarian visits. There are a number of ways that cat toxoplasmosis can be acquired and pet owners should not assume that indoor cats are immune to the disease. If their cat eats even a tiny bit of raw meat or happens to catch a small animal that gets inside the house – and then eats it- the cat can become infected with the parasite responsible for this disease. In other cases, kittens can arrive at a new home and already carry the parasite due to an infection acquired whilst in their mother.
What is the name of the particular parasite which causes cat toxoplasmosis? It goes by the lengthy title of Toxoplasma gondii. But the name of the parasite responsible for cat toxoplasmosis is not nearly as important as understanding the dangers the parasite poses to humans as well as felines. Cat owners should never make the mistake of assuming that a cat that does not appear ill is well. Cats can appear normal but still have the disease. Kittens, however, may quickly become weak and even die since they are younger and more frail (compared to older adult cats).
Even if feline owners have had a cat for a long time, if someone in the home gets pregnant, it is very important to take special steps, such as a pregnant woman avoiding changing their cat’s litter, or the pregnancy could be adversely affected. This is no small matter and pregnant women who think they are safe and do go ahead and change their cat’s litter could be putting themselves – and their unborn baby – in danger. There is a very real potential for such serious conditions as brain defects, mental impairment, jaundice (yellowing of the skin) and other serious medical issues in unborn babies whose mothers have come in contact with cat feces. Again, it is important to remember that even cats that remain inside can also carry cat toxoplasmosis.
Signs and Symptoms
How does one know if a cat is showing signs of this illness? As a rule, cat toxoplasmosis causes many of the same physical symptoms as most other feline diseases. The cat will seem to be getting progressively weaker, refuse to eat or may even eat far less than usual, be feverish and will start to lose weight. The Cat Weight Loss may become particularly severe. If the condition is not caught early enough, death may occur, particularly if the liver has been seriously compromised, such as in Cat Liver Disease.
Of course, other diseases can have the same symptoms so a blood test is advised to pinpoint cat toxoplasmosis and learn how to treat it and prevent it from returning. Once cured, precautions include keeping cats away from raw meat, making sure rodents don’t get in the house, keeping wild or feral cats away from domesticated cats and being vigilant about changing the litter box (making sure the person doing so is not pregnant).
Most people in good health do not get cat toxoplasmosis. Simply stroking a cats fur is not likely to pass on this disease from cat to human, especially since cats have a naturally tendency to keep themselves clean as it is. Pregnant women should not fear living in the same home as a cat, even after the cat tests positive for cat toxoplasmosis. As long as someone else deals with the waste and feces produced by cats, feline owners should be fine.