The Toxoplasmosis is a common infectious disease in cats. It can be a serious and even fatal illness. Regarding its contagion to humans, this ailment is fundamentally dangerous in pregnant women, since it can affect the fetus.
There is an irrational fear of many pregnant women to contract toxoplasmosis and avoid any contact with a cat at all costs. Most of these situations are resolved with good information about the disease and the routes of infection, but in others, it becomes the “perfect excuse” for thousands of dropouts a year. And the truth is that pregnant women and cats can live together without any problem , since the route of contagion is practically nil.
So here we want to shed light on toxoplasmosis and cats and explain why there is no problem in common coexistence between the two. There are articles that give ambiguous and incomplete information on the role that the cat can play in the contagion of this parasite. Popular beliefs also tend to play a negative role, when it does not go beyond the clichés.
What is toxoplasmosis?
Behind such a notorious and bombastic name, hides a protozoan of the parasite type and of the toxoplasma genus, which is called toxoplasma gondii . The peculiarity of this protozoan is that the disease it produces is within the framework of zoonoses , that is, those diseases that are transmitted from animals to people. This is where the cat is the sad protagonist, because it is the final host of this disease. Not all cats are carriers of the parasite and in addition, there are more contagion routes to humans, in which the cat has nothing to do with it and which are much more likely to be contagious.
If a domestic cat does not have access to the outside and follows a diet based on prepared and processed foods , it will not infect toxoplasmosis in any case, say veterinary specialists, this is so. Why do they affirm this with such certainty? Because the domestic cat will never come into contact with the cause of the disease and therefore will not be able to transmit it.
Protectors of animals, which are those who live the reality of the day to day, in terms of the abandonment of pets, detect numerous cases, when there is a pregnant woman in the domestic home.
And it is the misinformation on this issue , it causes irrational fear, makes their owners make wrong decisions. At this point, we know that numerous organizations and experts in the field, do informative talks to tell the whole truth about the contagion of this disease through a cat.
How does the cat spread toxoplasmosis?
The contagion of the cat occurs orally, the cat ingests the cysts that are found in the meat of other animals or in the feces of other cats. Among cats, it is also possible that a contagion occurs, via mother – child , in the placenta, during the gestation period.
After a period of time, the cysts survive the passage of the stomach and once in the small intestine, they invade the epithelial cells, forming oocysts . Finally these are eliminated by the cat’s feces, in a determined period of between 1 to 5 days .
Our aspiring to be infected with the parasite, would have to touch those poops with her hand and then put them in her mouth . (something common sense tells us that no one does even unconsciously). As we have said before, if the cat is domestic and does not have contact with the outside and is on a processed diet , the possibilities in addition to being infected with Toxoplasma gondii are non-existent.
The Toxoplasma gondii oocysts that we have mentioned can also be ingested directly through vegetables not washed properly or in a previous way of the parasite, in raw meat and here the cat would not intervene at all.
Even so, if there were suspicions that the cat could be a source of infection, wearing gloves when changing or picking up the litter box would be enough to avoid any type of contagion. It could also be a job someone else did.
How to detect toxoplasmosis in cats
The Feline Toxoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii in cats and other felines are guests.
They spread it to people through bowel movements. This is how toxoplasmosis is transmitted .
- The most common is that a human contracts this disease through ingesting infected food through a cat. Such as contaminated vegetables or meat. Therefore, if you are pregnant and have a kitten, you should not fear being infected by your cat. What we recommend in this case is that you do not eat semi-raw or raw meats during pregnancy.
- A domestic cat that does not eat semi-raw or raw meat, that is not in contact with the feces of other animals or felines and that does not hunt birds or rodents will hardly get toxoplasmosis . If this is the case with your pet, you should not fear that it will catch it.
If your animal comes into contact with the virus, it will reproduce in your cat’s intestine and lead to the appearance of eggs called oocysts. They will be removed 15-20 days after being infected.
When they are in the environment, these eggs will mature between 1 and 5 days after being expelled and it is then that they become a source of infection.
- Both in the case of humans, as in that of kittens that come into contact with the virus, this ailment is asymptomatic, certain isolated symptoms can only occur if the human or animal is low in defences or if it has problems in your immune system.
- If your pet has eaten meat or prey infected with toxoplasmosis, it could suffer from diarrhea, this would be a symptom of toxoplasmosis. On the other hand, if your cat has been infected by ingesting mature oocysts, the symptoms that could appear if your kitten is low in defences are difficulty breathing, fever or lack of appetite.
- As in most cases, toxoplasmosis is an asymptomatic disease, if you think that your cat has this disease, the easiest way to detect that a cat has toxoplasmosis is to take it to your veterinarian for a blood test.
To find out if your furry friend is infected with Toxoplasma gondii it is not recommended to do a stool test.
This is because, of all the incubation and development time of this ailment, only for two weeks your feline expels remains through the feces. For this reason, such evidence is not conclusive.
- You should know that toxoplasmosis disease does not present symptoms in more than 90% of kittens, therefore, it will be very difficult to detect it at first sight.
Symptoms and Treatment of Toxoplasmosis in Cats
If the cat, for whatever reason, has contracted the parasite, once the microorganism is in the cat, the resulting oocysts can pass into the bloodstream , so it will spread throughout the cat’s body. The cat’s immune system will fight it, forming cysts, as a result of the barrier that prevents the invading parasite from cell replication .
These cysts that form in cats can affect muscle tissues, organs and even the central nervous system. If the cat’s immune system is overwhelmed, necrosis can appear and therefore the cat’s life can be dangerous .
In the initial cycle of the disease, the first symptoms of toxoplasmosis in cats are usually diarrhea and vomiting . Those most affected are young kittens and cats with weaker immune systems. It can sometimes be confused with diseases caused by viruses such as feline calicivirus or other conditions such as pancreatitis in cats.
In the most advanced phase of the effects of the replication of the parasite, a wide range of effects derived from cell necrosis can appear, such as that the cat may limp when walking, fever, muscle aches, limited visual acuity and even inflammation of the the eyes and lymph nodes.
According to veterinary experts consulted, clindamycin is one of the most commonly used drugs for the treatment of this parasite and its effects . If the disease has advanced too much, it is possible that some cats have significant eye and neurological injuries. These are usually treated with corticosteroids or topical antibiotics.
This article is informative, if you have any doubts, it is best that you contact your trusted veterinarian who will advise you what steps you should take, but we wanted to give more information on this subject, given that the ignorance of toxoplasmosis in cats , It is one of the causes of abandonment and it is important to know that contagion through the cat is very unlikely.