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Common Illness in Kittens – Giardiasis and Coccidiosis

09/16/2011 by Colleen Williams
September 16th, 2011 by Colleen Williams

As young animals whose immune systems have yet to fully develop, kittens are often susceptible to illnesses older cats can fight off. Giardiasis and Coccidiosis are both intestinal parasites that are fairly common among cats less than one year old.

What are Giardiasis and Coccidiosis?

These two diseases are caused by intestinal parasites most often picked up through infected feces, water, other animals, and their mothers. Both are reasonably easy to treat, but can be picked up again, so prevention is important. Kittens are especially prone to these conditions as they can be passed to them through nursing mothers. Their curiosity can also get the better of them, and they may investigate infected feces or dead animals.

Symptoms of Infection

The main symptoms of both parasitic infections are watery diarrhea and weight loss. Dehydration is also a serious issue and can lead to organ failure if not treated. Coccidiosis may also cause vomiting, weakness, and a fever. If any of these symptoms present themselves, seek immediate veterinary attention – they can also be signs of a more serious disease.

Treatment of Infection

In order to rid the kitten of the parasites, prescription drugs will be prescribed. Rehydration of the animal is also needed, whether through intravenous fluids or a constantly full water bowl. It’s also highly recommended that you thoroughly bathe your kitten and clean any areas they came into contact with. Disinfect litter boxes as well as water and food bowls. Follow up examinations can determine when your kitten is back to full health.

Prevention of Infection

Setting infected kittens apart is the most effective step towards preventing Giardiasis and Coccidiosis infections from running rampant. Test the potential mother cat before pregnancy and after birth to ensure she is infection free and won’t pass the parasite to her young. Kittens should also be tested for infection.


Parasitic infections are common issues among young cats with underdeveloped immune systems. Keeping areas clean and regularly disinfecting litter boxes and bowls can also prevent the presence of parasites. Regularly test potential mother cats as well as new kittens.