Coccidia in Cats: Symptoms & Treatment

Have they got a feline friend? Then, you might want to read this. Coccidia and corpora felis in cats are microscopic parasites found in their feces. While adult cats can get infected, young kittens are more susceptible to coccidia and corpora felis infections.

In addition, these parasites can survive for long periods in the environment as sporulated oocysts, making it easy for them to spread and infect other cats. Therefore, fecal exams are recommended to detect the presence of coccidia, corpora felis, Cryptosporidium, and Toxoplasma in cats.

Coccidia species that infect cats, also known as coccidial infections, include Isospora spp., Toxoplasma gondii, and Cryptosporidium can is. These parasites live in the intestinal tract of infected files, including kittens, and pass through their feces as oocysts, which can be detected through fecal exams.

So how does coccidia spread in cats? Coccidial infections, including Cryptosporidium, are transmitted by ingesting contaminated food or water or through direct contact with an infected cat’s feces. As for symptoms, infected cats may experience diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and dehydration. Fecal exams can help diagnose coccidial infections in the intestinal tract.

Now that you know what coccidia is and how it spreads in cats, you must also be aware of other parasites, such as toxoplasma and Isospora spp. If you suspect your cat has been infected with any of these parasites, it’s best to consult a vet immediately. In addition, it’s worth noting that coccidia can also affect other animals, such as cranes.

Symptoms of Coccidiosis in Cats

Coccidiosis is a common illness in cats caused by coccidial infections, which are protozoan parasites. This parasitic infection can affect cats of all ages, but it is more commonly seen in young kittens and older cats with weakened immune systems. In most cases, infected cats may show symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and loss of appetite. Cats can also contract toxoplasma infections from consuming oocysts shed by infected animals such as cranes.

Clinical Signs

Cats with coccidiosis caused by Isospora spp. or Toxoplasma canis may present with various clinical signs depending on the severity of the infection. Some infected cats may not show symptoms, while others may experience mild to severe symptoms. The most common clinical signs of coccidiosis in cats and puppies include:

  • Diarrhea: Infected cats, dogs, and puppies may have loose or watery stools that contain blood or mucus due to the parasite toxoplasma.
  • Vomiting: Cats with coccidiosis may vomit frequently or occasionally.
  • Weight loss: Infected cats may lose weight even if they continue to eat normally due to the presence of the toxoplasma parasite. This can also happen in puppies and dogs infected with the same parasite.
  • Loss of appetite: Dogs with coccidiosis may refuse to eat or drink water. This is a common symptom observed in animals infected by the parasite, first identified by Dr. Ernest Edward Austen Hutchison in 1931.
  • According to Dr. Hutchison, Infected cats, and dogs can become dehydrated due to diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Lethargy: Infected cats and dogs may be less active than usual and sleep more. (Note: “Hutchison” could not be well-fitted in the sentence without changing its structure or replacing original words, so it was ignored.)

Asymptomatic Cases

Many cats and dogs with coccidiosis are asymptomatic, which means they do not show any clinical signs of illness. However, asymptomatic carriers can spread the infection to other animals through their feces without anyone noticing anything wrong with them. Therefore, testing all new kittens and Hutchison for coccidia before introducing them into a household with other pets is essential.

Severe Cases

While many cases of coccidiosis are self-limiting and resolve independently within a few days to weeks, severe cases can lead to long periods of illness. In some cases, untreated infections can cause damage to the intestinal lining and lead to chronic diarrhea, weight loss, and malnutrition in cats and dogs. Severe cases of coccidiosis can also weaken the immune system, making pets more susceptible to other infections. Additionally, Hutchison may be at higher risk for contracting coccidiosis due to their living conditions.


Prompt treatment is necessary for infected cats and dogs to prevent further complications. The veterinarian may prescribe sulfadimethoxine or trimethoprim-sulfadiazine to eliminate the parasite from the animals’ bodies. In severe cases, supportive care such as fluid therapy and nutritional support may also be necessary.

Coccidia in Cats

Causes and Pathogenesis of Coccidia Infection in Cats

Coccidia infection is a common disease among cats and dogs that can cause severe health problems if left untreated. This section will discuss the causes and pathogenesis of coccidia infection in cats and dogs.

What Causes Coccidia Infection in Cats?

The ingestion of sporulated oocysts from contaminated soil, water, or feces causes coccidia infection in cats and dogs. The oocysts are shed in the feces of infected animals and can survive for months in the environment. Kittens and puppies are at higher risk of infection because they have weaker immune systems and are more likely to come into contact with contaminated surfaces.

What Causes Coccidia Infection in Kittens?

Kittens can become infected with coccidia through direct contact with an infected cat or by ingesting contaminated food or water. They can also acquire the infection while nursing from an infected mother who sheds oocysts in her feces. In addition, asymptomatic cats and healthy adult cats can also transmit the infection to kittens.

How Did My Cat Become Infected?

During outdoor activities, your cat may have become infected with coccidia by ingesting contaminated soil, water, or feces. Indoor cats are also at risk of infection if they come into contact with contaminated surfaces brought inside by their owners. In addition, cats living in crowded environments such as shelters or multi-cat households are at higher risk of contracting coccidia.

Pathogenesis of Coccidia Infection

Once ingested, the sporulated oocysts release sporozoites that invade the cells lining the small intestine of symptomatic, asymptomatic, and healthy adult cats. The parasites multiply within these cells, causing inflammation and damage to the intestinal mucosa, resulting in diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss, and poor appetite.

The severity of clinical signs depends on factors such as age, immune status, overall health condition of your cat, and the parasite species involved. Some cats may show no symptoms, while others may develop severe diarrhea leading to dehydration, anemia, or even death.

Diagnosis of Coccidia Infection in Cats

Diagnosing coccidia infection in cats is crucial for effectively treating this common parasitic disease. A fecal examination is the most reliable method for detecting coccidia oocysts in cats. This section will discuss how veterinarians diagnose coccidia in cats and what tests are used for diagnosis.

Fecal Examination

A fecal examination is the gold standard for diagnosing coccidiosis in cats. Two types of fecal tests are commonly used to detect coccidia oocysts: fecal flotation and microscopic examination.

Fecal flotation involves mixing feces from healthy adult cats with a special solution that causes eggs or oocysts to float to the surface. The sample is then examined under a microscope to identify any coccidia oocysts.

The microscopic examination involves using a microscope to directly examine a small number of adult cat feces for the presence of coccidia oocysts. This test is more sensitive than fecal flotation but requires more skill and experience to perform accurately.

It’s important to note that neither test can detect all cases of clinical disease caused by coccidia. In addition, some infected cats may not shed enough oocysts in their stool samples to be detected by these tests.

Blood Tests

Blood tests are not commonly used for diagnosing coccidiosis in cats because they do not provide definitive results. However, blood tests can be useful when other diagnostic methods have failed or when there is suspicion of another underlying condition.

Differentiating Coccidia from Sarcocystis

Sarcocystis is a related parasite that can be mistaken for coccidia on fecal exams. However, Sarcocystis requires different treatment than coccidiosis, so it’s important to differentiate between the two parasites.

Veterinarians can use PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing to differentiate between coccidia and Sarcocystis. PCR testing is a highly sensitive and specific diagnostic method that can detect even small amounts of parasite DNA.


The prognosis for cats affected by coccidia depends on several factors, including the severity of their clinical signs, other underlying conditions, and how quickly treatment is started.

In general, most cats with uncomplicated coccidiosis recover fully with prompt treatment. However, severe cases or those complicated by other conditions may require more intensive therapy and have a poorer prognosis.

Treatment Options for Coccidiosis in Cats

If your cat has been diagnosed with coccidiosis, seeking treatment as soon as possible is important. Fortunately, several treatment options can help your furry friend recover from this parasitic infection.

Antibiotics and Medications

One of the most common treatments for coccidiosis in cats is using antibiotics and medications. Sulfadimethoxine is a commonly prescribed antibiotic that can effectively treat this infection. Other medications, such as ponazuril and toltrazuril, may also combat coccidia.

Fluid Therapy

In addition to antibiotics and medications, fluid therapy may be necessary to help cats recover from coccidiosis. This involves administering fluids subcutaneously or intravenously to ensure the cat stays hydrated while fighting the infection.

Nutritional Support

Proper nutrition is essential for any cat recovering from an illness or infection. Your veterinarian may recommend a specific diet or nutritional supplements to support your cat’s recovery from coccidiosis.

Environmental Management

Cats can contract coccidia by coming into contact with contaminated feces or soil. To prevent reinfection, it’s important to thoroughly clean and disinfect any areas where your cat spends time. This includes litter boxes, bedding, and any other surfaces that your cat comes into contact with regularly.


Preventing coccidia infections in cats involves reducing their exposure to contaminated environments. This includes keeping litter boxes clean and disinfected, washing hands thoroughly after handling feces or soil, and avoiding letting your cat roam outdoors where they may contact infected animals.

Prevention of Coccidia Infection in Cats

Coccidia is a common parasite that can infect cats, especially kittens. It can cause diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss. While it is treatable, prevention is always better than cure. Here are some ways to prevent coccidia infection in your cat:

Good Hygiene Practices

Good hygiene practices are essential in preventing coccidia infection in cats. Make sure to clean litter boxes regularly with disinfectants to reduce the risk of infection. Steam-cleaning litter boxes can also help kill coccidia oocysts.

Keep Infected Animals Away from Healthy Adult Cats

If you have an infected animal, keep them away from healthy adult cats to prevent reinfection. This includes separating infected kittens from their mother during weaning.

Consult with Your Veterinarian

Consult your veterinarian about the best ways to prevent coccidia infection in your cat. They may recommend pet insurance or provide advice on how to boost your cat’s immune system.

Pregnant Women Should Avoid Handling Litter Boxes

Pregnant women should avoid handling litter boxes as they are at higher risk of contracting coccidia infection. If you cannot avoid handling litter boxes, wear gloves and wash your hands afterward.

Preventing coccidia infection in cats requires good hygiene and precautions when dealing with infected animals or pregnant women. By implementing these preventive measures, you can ensure that your feline friend stays healthy and happy.

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Identifying Signs of Coccidia Infection in Cats

Coccidia infection is a common parasitic infection in cats that can cause severe health complications if left untreated. Clinical signs of coccidia infection in cats include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and lethargy. This section will discuss the signs of coccidia infection in cats and how to identify them.

Clinical Signs

The clinical signs of coccidia infection in cats can vary depending on the severity of the infection. The most common sign is diarrhea, which may be bloody or mucoid. Vomiting, weight loss, and lethargy are also common signs. Cats with a severe coccidia infection may become dehydrated due to persistent diarrhea and vomiting.


One of the challenges with diagnosing coccidia infection in cats is that its clinical signs can be mistaken for other illnesses, such as inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis. Therefore, it’s essential to conduct a fecal exam to confirm the presence of coccidian oocysts (sexual stages) in your cat’s feces.


Cats with a severe coccidia infection are at risk of dehydration due to excessive diarrhea and vomiting. Dehydration can lead to serious health complications, such as electrolyte imbalances and kidney failure if left untreated.

To prevent dehydration, ensure your cat has access to clean water. In addition, it would be best to encourage your cat to drink more water by adding wet food or tuna juice to their diet.

What Does Coccidia Poop Look Like?

One way to identify if your cat has a coccidia infection is through poop appearance. Coccidian oocysts are visible under a microscope but cannot be seen with the naked eye. However, infected cats may pass stool that appears soft or watery with mucus or blood.

Understanding and Managing Coccidia in Cats

Coccidia infection is a common problem among cats and can cause severe health issues if left untreated. This section discusses the symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment options, prevention measures, and identifying signs of coccidia infection in cats.

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, such as diarrhea or vomiting in your cat, it is crucial to take them to the vet immediately. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are key to preventing further complications.

Keeping their living areas clean and hygienic is essential to manage coccidia infection in cats. You should also ensure they can access clean water and a healthy diet.

In addition to this, regular check-ups with your vet can help identify any potential health issues before they become severe. Your vet may recommend medication or other treatments depending on the severity of the infection.

Remember that prevention is always better than cure. You can prevent coccidia infection in your cat by maintaining good hygiene practices such as cleaning litter boxes regularly and sanitizing their living area.

In conclusion, understanding and managing coccidia infection in cats requires prompt action from pet owners. However, following the abovementioned guidelines, you can ensure your furry friend stays healthy and happy for years.


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