Symptoms and Treatment of Cat Giardia

Giardia is caused by a digestive tract parasite capable of infecting cats and humans. This single cell parasite starts as a cyst that can survive well in the environment after being shed from cat feces. When ingested into the digestive tract, the cyst turns into a parasite that negatively effects the cat’s digestive wall, making it difficult to absorb nutrients.

Giardia Symptoms

It is not uncommon for giardia in cats to be asymptomatic, meaning showing no visible symptoms. In those cats that do show symptoms, the most common are:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weight loss

Giardia Diagnosis

Giardia cell, SEM.

Cat Giardia Parasite Source: Image via Wikipedia

There are number tests that are used to diagnose Cat Giardia.  These include examination of cat feces under a microscope, feces flotation and lab tests. The disease can be difficult to test for, with multiple tries often needed.

Cat Giardia Treatment

The treatment for feline giardia consists of administering an oral medication (Metronidazole) to eliminate shedding cysts within the intestinal wall.  In order to avoid reinfection, when starting treatment it is a good idea to bathe the cat with shampoo and to disinfect all of the food dishes and litter boxes.  This will help an recoccurence of the condition. A veterinarian will also recommend a highly digestible GI diet while the cats intestines heal. Probiotic and prebiotic supplements may be added to the treatment regimen to restore healthy bacteria in your cats intestinal tract. Other supplements that can help include homeopathic remedies such as Parasite Dr. (to naturally fight off parasites), Natural Moves (to restore bowel function) and Digestive Support (to restore digestive system function after cat giardia treatment has begun).


Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine



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