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Fecal parasites in cats

Lucio-Forster A and Bowman DD. Prevalence of fecal-borne parasites detected by centrifugal flotation in feline samples from two shelters in upstate New York. J Feline Med Surg. 2011; 13: 300-3.

Coccidia oocysts in a cat with diarrhea

Fecal samples from 1,322 cats from two shelters and affiliated foster homes in New York were processed for parasite detection over a 3.5-year period. All samples were processed by both zinc sulfate and sugar double centrifugal flotation. In slightly over half of the samples (50.9%), at least one parasite was detected upon microscopic examination. At least 18 different parasites ranging from 0.2% to 21% in prevalence were recovered in the process. The two most prevalent parasites in this study were Cystoisopora species and Toxocara cati (each had a prevalence of 21%). The next most prevalent was Giardia species cysts at 8.9%, followed by Aelurostrongylus abstrusus (the cat lungworm) at 6.2%. The remaining parasites were each found in less than 4% of the samples: taeniids, Cryptosporidium species, Ancylostoma species, Cheyletiella species, Dipylidium caninum, Otodectes species, Toxoplasma gondii, Sarcocystis species, Demodex and Spirometra species, Alaria species, and Felicola subrostratus. The study results indicate prevalence determination based solely on fecal examination is likely to underestimate the true prevalence of infection in the population. Many of the parasites detected in the study are acquired by predation, which is even possible in owned cats that have outdoor access or the potential for visits from mice, voles, and other transport hosts (fleas, etc.). These findings would support the recommendations that all pets, even those under routine veterinary care, should have at least one fecal examination and should be placed on year-around prevention for internal and external parasites. [VT]

Related articles:
Queen EV, Marks SL and Farver TB. Prevalence of selected bacterial and parasitic agents in feces from diarrheic and healthy control cats from Northern California. J Vet Intern Med. 2012; 26: 54-60.