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Why do Cats

contract Toxoplasmosis

and what is it?

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Feline Toxoplasmosis in Cats
By: Alfred

Toxoplasmosis is a very common disease caused by infection
with Toxoplasma gondii, a single-celled parasite. It can
infect most mammals, including humans, but felines seem to
be the best hosts.

When a cat eats an animal that has been infected with
toxoplasmosis, or raw meat infected with toxoplasmosis, the
parasite will cycle to the small intestine and rapidly
multiply, penetrating the intestinal wall. During that time
the parasite will produce oocysts. This stage is called the
intra-intestinal infection cycle. The oocysts are excreted
in larger numbers in the cat's feces. Any warm blooded
creature that comes into contact with infected feces after
sporulation of the oocysts can be infected with the

Cats that have been infected with the parasite will start
shedding oocysts three to five days after ingesting the
parasite. They will continue shedding the oocysts for up to
two weeks. The oocysts are very strong and resistant and can
exist in an environment for years.

In some cats the parasite will penetrate further into the
intestinal wall during the intra-intestinal infection cycle
and start multiplying as tachyzoites. This starts the extra-
intestinal infection cycle. Usually the cat's immune system
will suppress the mass infection of the parasite in the
cat's body. The parasite then goes into a resting stage and
forms cysts in muscles and the brain. The cysts contain
bradyzoites that slowly multiply.

The most common symptoms of toxoplasmosis include lethargy,
fever, and loss of appetite. Depending on whether the
infection is acute or chronic and what part of the body the
parasite has infected, there may be other symptoms as
follow. If the parasite infects the lungs, infection can
lead to pneumonia and consequent increasing respiratory

Toxoplasmosis can also affect the cat's central nervous
system and eyes, leading to inflammation of the retina,
abnormal pupil size and responsiveness to light or even
blindness, personality changes, difficulty in chewing and
swallowing food, heightened sensitivity to touch,
incoordination, circling, head pressing, twitching of the
ears, seizures, and loss of control over urination and

To diagnose toxoplasmosis in a cat a history of the cat is
taken along with any symptoms and lab testing is done. Once
the cat has been diagnosed it can be treated with
Clindamycin or some other form of antibiotic. Toxoplasmosis
in general isn't fatal, and many cats show no symptoms at
all, but if your cat does exhibit symptoms have it checked
by your veterinarian immediately.

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