Feline Trichomoniasis

24 05 2011

Feline Trichomoniasis

If your cat has been suffering from a chronic large bowl diarrhea, don’t overlook trichomoniasis as a possible cause.  Feline trichomoniasis is an infection caused by a protozoal parasite Tritrichomonas foetus.

T. foetus transmission between individual cats is believed to be through a fecal-oral route, possibly by sharing litter boxes, grooming or mother-to kitten transmission.

T. foetus primarily infects younger cats typically those less than 2 years of age.  Most cats have a history of a chronic or relapsing diarrhea.  Coexisting infections with FeLV, FIV, coccidia or feline inflammatory bowel disease are not uncommon.  These cats may have fecal incontinence; the stood is loose to semiformed and often bloody with a bad odor.  Cats may often strain in the litter box, have anal or perianal inflammation and weight loss from the diarrhea.  Often the diarrhea will resolve within 2 years of the onset.

Diagnosis is made from fresh feces suspended in saline of culture media and the organism is observed under a microscope.  T. foetus is commonly mistaken for Guardia species because of their similarities in a stool sample.  Additional tests include culture and isolation of trichomonad DNA from the feces by polymerase chain reactions.

Currently there is no approved treatment for feline trichomoniasis.  Medications currently being used include:  1.   Ronidazole 30 to 50 mg/kg every 12 hours for 14 days.  Side

effects include dose-related neurotoxicity.

2.   Tinidazole:  30 mg/kg every 24 hours for 14 days

3.   Concurrent use of Enrofloxacin 5 mg every 24 hours for 21 days

and Fenbendazole at 50 mg/kg every 24 hours for 5 days.

Retinal degeneration is a possible risk when enrofloxacin is

given at high levels.

Treatment is not 100% effective in all cases and there may be a reoccurrence of diarrhea after a few months with treatment is unsuccessful.  Additional infectious agents or underlying conditions may complicate treatment.

Prevention is aimed at preventing transmission by providing clean litter boxes at regular intervals, no less than 2 to 3 times weekly.  It is also good to have ample litter boxes for the number of cats living together.

References:

Stockdale, Heather and Byron Blagburn.  “Feline Trichomoniasis.”  NAVC  Clinician’s Brief.  April 2008. Pp. 9 – 11.

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