Giardiasis in cats: cause, symptoms, treatment

Giardiasis in cats is a parasite responsible for various intestinal disorders in the feline: let’s see how to recognize and eliminate it with the advice of experts.

This parasite affects the small intestine of domestic cats. If not treated quickly, it can spread to the large intestine and weaken the digestive system in general. This intestinal problem is more common than you think.

That is why, we need to know this disease and know how to take basic precautions. Of course we all would like our pet to live a life in full healthy well-being, we cannot always enjoy the ideal health and felines, like humans, face their entire existence with various diseases.

Cause and contagion of giardiasis in cats

This disease is caused by an organism called giardia, in fact the disease giardiasis is named after this parasite. It affects the small intestine and, later on, causes complications in the large intestine. With all this, the digestive system of the animal weakens and stops performing its function correctly, causing various complications in it.

This parasite descends into the small intestine and adheres to its walls, deforming it over time. Because of this, the intestine stops performing its purpose, does not absorb the fats and vitamins that it should. Giardiasis is not among the most serious diseases that exist, but if we neglect the symptoms of our cat, the problem tends to develop until the cat dies.

It should be emphasized that the cats most likely to get this disorder are cats living in colonies, as well as older and very young cats, or more so cats suffering from feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency syndrome, as they have a weak immune system.

Giardiasis is very contagious, to the point where it can be transmitted from cats to humans. That is why one must be cautious and approach the infected animal carefully. The most exposed people are:

  • Vulnerable or sick individuals and in particular immunocompromised   (from HIV: AIDS virus or drug treatment).
  • Pregnant women.
  • Seniors.
  • Individuals with mental retardation.
  • Professionally exposed individuals to infections.
  • People with diabetes.
  • Children who have or are in close contact with a pet.

This is why experts recommend specific hygiene measures to be maintained to avoid cat infection that endangers our life and that of our family members and pets. Let’s see below which suggestions to adopt:

  • Deworm the cat.
  • Eliminate cat feces from the garden or litter box every day.
  • Prevent children from touching or playing with (or near) animal droppings, especially on beaches or play areas.
  • Wash your hands systematically after touching or petting a cat.
  • Avoid letting your cat lick your cat’s face or hands.
  • Do not give crude offal to the cat.
  • Wash fruit and vegetables before consumption.

All this because the main means of transmission of this parasite are:

  • The excrement: For example, if the cat walks in the excrement and then licks its legs, or if it smells infected excrement of another animal.
  • Direct contact: when the cat approaches other infected animals or worse still licks them.
  • Contaminated water: the waters where the parasite can be found, are those stagnant waters such as puddles or buckets left there for a long time.
  • Lack of hygiene: the cat tends to care a lot about its hygiene and is generally very clean, but when it has the opportunity to leave the house, there is the risk of getting dirty and in cleaning itself using the tongue, it could also lick the parasite, which has rested on the body.

Symptoms of giardiasis in cats

Giardia does not reveal itself uniquely in all felines. There are cats that are carriers in their intestines and live their life normally without experiencing problems and it is the so-called asymptomatic giardia. It has no worrying symptoms, but can suddenly lead to death. And then there are cats that suffer from it with different health problems, let’s see which ones.

  • Cat diarrhea: abundant and sudden. Trigger of other problems such as cat dehydration or pet weight loss. It is one of the main symptoms of this disease.
  • Nausea and Vomiting: Giardia slowly destroys our pet, causing the entire organism of the animal to be in turmoil.
  • Fatigue: The domestic feline weakens during this phase of dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea and shows greater fatigue.
  • Loss of appetite: The suffering cat does not want to eat. This loss of appetite, added to the diarrhea, increases the effects of weight loss and feline fatigue.

Diagnosis of giardiasis in cats

Giardia is a parasite not visible to the naked human eye, and it is therefore essential to use other tools to confirm its presence and approximate a diagnosis. A direct smear can then be performed .

This test consists of mixing a drop of freshly collected cat feces with a drop of saline, then examining it under a microscope. Certain times it is possible to see the movements of the protozoan that resemble a leaf falling to the ground or at other times you can see it spinning on itself.

Another test that can be used is a “Snap Test”, an enzyme immunoassay that allows the rapid detection of the parasite’s antigens. Finally, a final test available is PCR (polymerase chain reaction). This is a test that detects the presence of Giardia DNA in the stool.


The most correct and successful treatment will be provided by your trusted veterinarian. The doctor who will study the history of the animal in the specific case is the most suitable person to put an end to the symptoms. However, treatment must be accompanied by adequate hygiene and basic precautions.

Giardiasis is treated in most cases, with specific medications that are usually prescribed for several days. The period of taking these drugs usually does not exceed two weeks. It is essential to be respectful in administering medications to the cat, because a single day of forgetfulness could be enough for the strengthening of the giardias.

Try to give the cat enough fresh water to avoid complications with dehydration. Immediately clean the place where the cat has defecated and at the same time clean the anal area or part of the dirty fur, to prevent the cysts from remaining there.


Giardiasis is a disease that could be avoided, as with simple attentions and by taking certain measures, we could protect our cat. These are the precautions that experts recommend:

  • Check your cat‘s health periodically.
  • The vaccine for cats against giardiasis reduces the possibility of contracting the infection.
  • Don’t let him use other animals’ bathrooms or drink water where they do.
  • In case of diarrhea, wait a few days and if it doesn’t go away, go to the vet.
  • Don’t let your cat come into contact with stray animals.
  • Hygiene of spaces.

Cat BreedsCat Food and Nutrition
Tips for Cat OwnersCat Training
Cat BehaviorKittens
Cat HealthCat Grooming
Cat AdoptionTravel with Cat
Holiday Season- Cat

Leave a Comment