Pet Health Library

Cats + Parasites

  • Atovaquone is given by mouth and is used off-label to treat protozoal infections. Give as directed. Side effects are uncommon but may include stomach upset or skin rash. Do not use in pets that are pregnant. If a negative reaction occurs, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

  • Azithromycin is given by mouth or injection and is used on and off-label to treat a variety of infections. Give as directed. Common side effects include stomach upset. Do not use in pets that are sensitive to macrolide antibiotics. If a negative reaction occurs, please call your veterinary office.

  • Capillaria is a small internal parasite, often less than half of a centimeter in length. They are closely related to intestinal worms, though they can live in a variety of locations within the body. Capillaria can affect both dogs and cats, although dogs are more frequently affected. Diagnosis can be difficult because the eggs of Capillaria are shed only on an intermittent basis. While the parasite is easily eliminated with a dewormer, your cat may require additional medications to decrease the inflammation associated with the infection.

  • Coccidiosis is an intestinal tract infection caused by a one-celled organism or protozoa called coccidia. Coccidia are microscopic parasites that live within the cells that line the intestine. Many cats that are infected with coccidia do not have diarrhea or any other clinical signs. When the oocysts are found in the stool of a cat without diarrhea, they are generally considered a transient, insignificant finding. However, in kittens and debilitated adult cats, coccidiosis can cause severe, watery diarrhea, dehydration, abdominal distress, and vomiting. Kittens are commonly diagnosed with coccidiosis. The most common drug used to treat coccidiosis is a sulfa-class antibiotic, sulfadimethoxine. Cats are frequently reinfected from the environment, so disinfection is important.

  • Cuterebra is the genus or scientific family name of the North American rabbit or rodent botfly. Twenty-six species of Cuterebra are known to occur in the United States and Canada. Cuterebra larvae develop within the tissues of certain animal hosts, and during this phase of their life cycle, they are commonly referred to as 'warbles'.

  • Cytauxzoonosis is an often-fatal disease caused by a tick-borne protozoan parasite, typically found in bobcats. It is more commonly seen in the southern United States but is spreading with tick migration. It can cause anorexia, lethargy, respiratory difficulty, anemia, and jaundice. Diagnostic testing, treatment options, and preventives are described in this handout. This disease is not transmissible to dogs or humans.

  • The ear mite is a surface mite that lives on cats, dogs, rabbits, and ferrets. It is usually found in the ear canal but it can also live on the skin surface. Mites are barely visible to the naked eye. Clinical signs of infestation vary in severity and may include ear irritation, leading to scratching at the ears or head shaking, dark waxy or crusty discharge from the ear, areas of hair loss resulting from self-trauma, a crusted rash around or in the ear, and an aural hematoma. Your veterinarian will advise you about which insecticidal products are suitable. Your veterinarian may want to re-examine your pet to ensure that the mites have been eliminated after the initial treatment has been performed.

  • Demodecosis is a parasitic skin condition, caused by demodex mites. These microscopic mites can be found on the skin of all animals, but in some cases they proliferate to excessive levels and cause clinical signs. While demodecosis is more common in dogs than cats, there are two species of demodex mites that can affect cats: Demodex cati and Demodex gatoi.

  • An allergy occurs when the cat's immune system overreacts or is hypersensitive to foreign substances called allergens. When a flea bites a cat to consume a blood meal, some of its saliva is injected into the skin. In an allergic cat, just one bite can result in intense itching that can last for days. Many flea-allergic cats chew or lick the hair off their legs. Since the flea saliva causes the reaction, the most important treatment for flea allergy is to prevent fleabites by treating the cat and environment for fleas. Corticosteroids can be used to block the allergic reaction and give immediate relief to a cat suffering from the intense itching of FAD.

  • Fleas are the most common nuisance and parasite affecting cats, and an infestation can lead to serious health problems. Flea control requires a three-pronged approach; they need to be eliminated from 1) your cat, 2) any other cats and dogs that you have, 3) your home and yard. There are many flea control products available and your veterinarian can help you determine which are safest and most effective for your pets.

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