This Article is About
lack of appetite
general malaise
loss of appetite
brain damage
flu like symptoms
Toxoplasma In Cats, Why It Is Important
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Toxoplasma In Cats, Why It Is Important

Toxoplasma in Cats is pretty common and here I will explain what it is, why it is potentially very dangerous to we humans and what you can do to stop it being a problem for you.

Toxoplasma Gondii is a single celled (protozoa) parasite responsible for the disease known as Toxoplasmosis. This rather unpleasant little bug reproduces only in the intestines of cats, both domestic and wild and is passed on to them by eating infected prey or uncooked meat.

The toxoplasma organism is spread by oocytes which are passed in the faeces of cats and become active after 2-5 days. Rats particularly are a carrier of the infection and when infected by toxoplasma actually change their behaviour.

Research has shown that (in the brain) their fear centres are suppressed and recently it has been discovered that the area responsible for sexual activity is stimulated which may actually make them attracted to cats sexually! This of course makes them much more easily caught and eaten by the cat, thus putting the toxoplasma into the cats digestive system and just where it wants to be to reproduce.

Why is Toxoplasma in cats important to human beings? It has been estimated that up to 30% (perhaps even more) humans have been infected by toxoplasma. Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite and flu like symptoms. In some cases, particularly with immunocompromised people, there can be brain damage, damage to sight and a risk to major organs such as the liver.

Particularly at risk are pregnant women. The disease can be spread to the foetus and can result in abortion or birth defects. This is why you as a cat lover particularly need to be aware of the risk to yourself and other human beings of Toxoplasma in cats.

How can you tell if your cat has toxoplasma? The symptoms include lethargy, lack of appetite and general malaise. In severe cases there can be brain and eye damage and also a risk of hepatitis. Unfortunately in some cases the symptoms may be very mild and hardly noticed ,making it difficult to spot.

Your vet will need to carry out a blood test to be sure of the infection, stool samples are not always reliable because the oocyte production is not always active. Treatment with antibiotics will clear up any toxoplasmosis in cats and there will be a strong degree of resistance to future infection.

What can you do to prevent infection.

  1. If you are pregnant and have cats then discuss it with your obstetrician. They may want to carry out blood tests. If you have the antibodies then you will almost certainly be immune and there will be no problem. The cats should also be checked out and of course treated if necessary.
  2. Always clear away cat litter from trays daily. This does not give the oocytes time to become active
  3. Keep litter trays away from kitchen areas
  4. Training cats to stay off counters is particularly useful. Microscopic spread from their paws is far less likely
  5. Keep counters clean
  6. Keep hands clean, especially after handling the cats or cleaning their tray.
  7. After gardening it is also advisable to wash your hands, particularly if cats are about in the garden
  8. Stopping cats hunting is easier said than done of course but if you find a way then do it.
  9. Cook meat thoroughly and never feed your cats raw meat

Most of these are jus common sense of course and if followed through then the potential hazards of toxoplasma in cats can easily be avoided.


Street Talk

Kyle  

Very interesting article Roger...I would have never known about Toxoplasma Gondii if I didn't look through your article. Although I am allergic to cats and don't have one (anymore), I am now INFORMED!

Reply
  about 6 years ago

Thanks Kyle. I knew a bit about this from my Med school days at Uni (part of my Dentistry course) but it came as a bit of a reminder. It was the "rats finding cats sexy" bit that brought it to my attention. Seems to be a major worry for some cat owning mothers to be though.

Reply
  about 6 years ago
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