Feline Toxoplasmosis is a intestinal parasite that can infect cats that eat small animals, birds, or other sources of raw meat that contain the Toxoplasma cysts. In the cats intestine, the cyst stages develop into eggs. The eggs are shed in the cat's feces, where they develop further. When material containing the eggs or cysts are eaten by the cat, the parasite spreads through the body and resumes a resting stage.
Diagnosis is based on microscopic examination of the feces for presence of the eggs, blood tests to determine an antibody response to Toxoplasma, use of laboratory mice to isolate the organism, and the appearance of clinical signs.
Most infected animals show no signs of toxoplasmosis, this is especially true of cats. However, cats may have a fever, cough, loss of appetite, and swollen lymph nodes.
Cats rarely develop clinical cases of toxoplasmosis. However, the biggest danger lies with pregnant women. Toxoplasmosis can be transmitted to the fetus, resulting in birth defects.
Common sense is the best pre vention. Cook meat before feeding it to your pet. Try to discourage your pet from eating wild animals and birds. Never eat raw meat, and wash your hands after handllng it. Cover your children's sandbox after play to prevent cats from using it as a litterbox. Litterboxes should be emptied regularly and cleaned with ammonia.
Pregnant women should not clean litterboxes and should always wash their hand after handling cats.