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Giardia in cats: information, symptoms and treatment


Giardia in cats are one of the most common parasite diseases after worms. Usually adult cats with a healthy immune system show no signs of the disease - however, parasites are a danger for young cats up to 12 months of age. Here you can learn more about the symptoms and treatment of giardia in cats and what they are , Young cats are prone to giardia - weight loss and diarrhea are signs of the parasitic disease - Shutterstock / Naratiwat

To diagnose giardiosis - as the giardia disease in cats is called - some veterinarians have rapid tests available. Otherwise, faecal samples are examined to diagnose the parasites, and usually several samples are necessary.

What are Giardia?

Giardia are so-called protozoa, that is, unicellular organisms belonging to the genus of flagellates (flagellates). Giardia make themselves comfortable in the small intestine of vertebrates and eat the contents of the intestine. The Giardia in cats and other hosts hold onto the intestinal wall with a suction cup so that it is damaged. If Giardia are not treated in time, they can lead to dehydration and, in the worst case, to death in young, weak or sick animals.

There are two stages of giardia: in the growth stage (vegetative stage) you eat in the intestine of the cat and in the stage of the cyst - the permanent form - hang on the intestinal wall and can be excreted with the faeces. The cysts are extremely resilient and, even if excreted, are contagious for up to four weeks - if the conditions are favorable for them, they are longer. The parasites usually survive most environmental influences without any problems.

Contagion: Giardiosis is a zoonosis

Contagion with giardia is possible in various ways, for example by contact with the feces of infected cats or birds, by smear infection or by ingesting contaminated water or feed. Giardiosis is a so-called zoonosis, which means that the disease can also be transmitted from person to animal and from animal to person.

Giardia in cats: symptoms

Cats suffering from giardia are the typical symptoms of acute or chronic diarrhea, which is often accompanied by slimy and occasionally bloody faeces. It is characteristic that the sick animals lose weight. Otherwise, most of the velvet paws are alert despite illness and also have an appetite. Sometimes vomiting, fever and nausea can also occur. Young animals as well as old and sick fur noses are particularly affected. It is possible that adult animals act as hosts and transmit the giardia to other animals or humans without being noticed, but do not show any symptoms of giardiosis.

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Treatment of giardia in cats

Conventional medicine uses two agents to treat giardia in cats: antibiotics with the active ingredient metronidazole and worms with the active ingredient fenbendazole. Therapy is often started with a worming agent containing fenbendazole, since fewer side effects are to be expected here than with antibiotics. In the best case, the ingredient fenbendazole kills the parasite eggs and inhibits the development of unicellular organisms.

Antibiotics with the active ingredient metronidazole also attack the giardia. The cell metabolism of the parasites is inhibited so that they can not spread any further. Unfortunately, the drug or tablets are not easy to administer because they do not taste good and the cats often salivate heavily after ingestion.

Be sure to follow your veterinarian's directions for medication treatment of giardia at your kitty. Most veterinarians recommend feeding with diet food during and after therapy. The basic rule is: All other cats and possibly other animal household members such as dogs must also be treated to ensure that the Giardia really disappear from the household.

Does colloidal silver help against giardiosis?

So-called colloidal silver is an alternative to conventional medicine. It is said to kill unicellular parasites such as viruses, bacteria, fungi and also protozoa such as Giardia. The silver molecules are supposed to penetrate the parasites, block them and consequently kill them. It cannot be answered here whether the effect of the silver bears fruit. It is best to find out from your veterinarian, who may be able to recommend a reputable veterinary practitioner.