need to know about
keeping your cat
happy and healthy.
Cat Best in
CRCster1x3v1507scoRev.indd 1 7/20/15 10:19AM
hygiene is the best protection.
Cats who do not hunt do not
become infected, so keeping
your cat indoors is another way
to reduce risk of exposure.”
If you want to go the extra mile,
Dr. Fritz has one last recommendation.
“The other thing people can do is
test their cat,” she said. “If the cat
already has antibodies and is not
currently shedding toxoplasma
oocysts in its feces, it’s likely the
cat has already been infected and
will not shed oocysts, so that cat
is less likely to be a real risk.”
Before we move on to something
really scary, let’s touch on giardia, a
parasite that causes disease in many
species, including humans. Our cats
are probably off the hook for this
one, however. It turns out giardia is
more host-specific than we thought,
so it’s not likely the type of giardia
your cat has can infect you.
A new and relatively unknown
threat called cytauxzoonosis, which
is spread by the lone star tick, is
of very high risk to cats. Currently
found in the Midwest and Southeast,
it appears to be spreading as the
range of the lone star tick expands.
It’s also known as bobcat fever.
“This is a devastating disease
to cats,” Dr. Dryden said. “It has an
incredibly high mortality rate — in
some places above 90 percent —
even with aggressive combination
drug treatments.” In addition to
almost never working, he warned,
the treatment is very expensive.
“I’m a cat guy. My whole family is
a cat family,” Dr. Dryden said. “This
disease is bad and scary, and even with
aggressive, expensive treatment, almost
all the cats who get cytauxzoonosis
will die. So I recommend people keep
their cats indoors, and if the cats do go
outdoors at all, use tick preventive.”
In fact, prevention is the word
when it comes to most parasites.
Most of these problems are
preventable if you use the products
recommended by your veterinarian.
Several of the topical preventives
control fleas, internal parasites, and
ear mites as well as heartworm.
If you’re not sure if certain parasites
are a risk where you live — or you
just want to know more about them
— your veterinarian is your first,
best resource. But you should also
take a tip from Dr. Heather Walden,
associate professor of parasitology
at the University of Florida
College of Veterinary Medicine.
“One of the best recommendations
I can make for cat owners is to
use the website of the Companion
Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) at
capcvet.org,” she said. “It was put
together by parasitologists and is
a site the public can really trust.”
The CAPC site features data
compiled by veterinarians across the
country, and you can click on a map
and see state by state how many of
a certain parasite is being reported
by veterinarians in that area.
It’s full of great information on
parasite life cycles, prevalence,
whether zoonotic, public concerns,
and even what it looks like —
guaranteed to give you the willies!
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ZA NNAHOL STOVA/ SHUTTE RSTOCK