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C2010-07

Dear Christopher Cat

During a routine fecal test, the vet found that my cat Chloe had Giardia. How did she acquire this parasite, and is it true humans can get Giardia?

Christopher Responds

Giardia, a single-celled protozoal creature detectable only with a microscope, can invade the intestines of cats, dogs and, yes, humans.

While most Giardia infections don’t produce any clinical signs in cats, some can trigger abdominal discomfort and runny bowel movements. Diarrhea, ranging from mild to severe and bloody, may be intermittent or chronic. Vomiting and weight loss accompany severe infection, which is most common in kittens.

Giardia are excreted in the feces. Transmission occurs when the cat ingests the organism in contaminated water or infected prey, during mutual grooming, or through exposure to a litter box containing fecal material from a cat with the parasite.

Because Giardia can spread to humans, it’s important to wash your hands after you clean the litter box and follow your veterinarian’s instructions for treating Chloe.

To prevent her from becoming infected again, keep her inside. In addition, don’t let any of your pets drink from the toilet bowl.

 

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