Our Parasite Protocol
This information is for educational purposes. I am not a veterinarian, and my intent is not to replace veterinary diagnosis or treatment. Rather, to share knowledge to assist others when they seek resolution to health issues. I've learned from veterinarians, breeders who generously shared their knowledge, and a decade of research while holding a holistic view in mind. My opinions/beliefs are my own. I share my way of raising Bengals not because it's the only way - but to open avenues of choice. Sharing information is my way of "paying it forward."
Feline coccidia is a protozoan organism that is common to cats and, in my opinion, especially prevalent in Bengal catteries. Coccidia most often affects kittens rather than older cats and symptoms include: watery diarrhea, depression, dehydration, loss of appetite, vomiting, weight loss, abdominal pain and possibly hemorrhage. Coccidia infection can result in death.
Older cats can shed oocysts in their feces yet remain asymptomatic until stressed. Stools that contain immature protozoa (oocytes) are harmless until allowed to mature in an open environment. The longer cat stool is allowed to decay, the more chance the oocytes have to develop. Sporulated oocysts can survive as long as one year in moist, protected environments. Infection is caused when kittens and cats come into contact with infected fecal matter, so it's important to scoop litter boxes often
It's my opinion that when the Bengal first became popular breeders with kitten mill environments spread coccidia within their own catteries and subsequently infected catteries worldwide. Diarrhea in Bengal kittens is a serious concern and buyers should be careful to purchase from breeders who have healthy Bengals and an excellent worming protocol. Through the years many breeders and pet buyers have reached out to me for help. Coccidia is not yet a universally well understood disease in regards to prevention and treatment. Too often Metronidazole is prescribed which, although it sooths an infected gut, cannot kill coccidia.
The first arsenal against this parasite is Baycox. Baycox (toltrazuril) is a fairly new treatment that suppresses oocyst excretion and may actually cure coccidiosis instead of simply suppressing it. It's best used as a preventive and given to kittens before they show signs of infection. Infection is usually between 3 and 4 weeks of age, and a single dose of Baycox can stop the shedding of oocysts. Baycox's active ingredient (toltrazuril) kills all single cell stages of coccidia, but after a kitten has diarrhea with oocysts in their feces, Baycox cannot penetrate the oocysts. Nevertheless, at this stage Baycox will help shorten the length and severity of the diarrhea ending the life cycle of coccidia in the small intestine.
Suggest give Baycox to kittens when they are 4 weeks (28 days) old. One treatment kills early stages of the protozoa which prevents clinical disease. Ten days later, repeat.
Baycox does not cause sloughing of the intestinal cells, and micrograph studies of sections of the intestine 24 hours after treatment show intact intestinal cells, but the single cell stages of coccidia are dead. If treatment is delayed, and oocysts are in the stool, the damage is done and the protozoa have completed their reproductive cycle. Baycox does not affect a kitten's intestinal flora (good bacteria) and has activity only against protozoa.
Please note that correct Baycox (for kittens and cats) is the 5% piglet formula and not the Baycox 2.5% poultry concentrate.
To Order Baycox: Vet-N-PetDirect
(Note: Do not give to kittens younger than 4 weeks of age.)
0.1 of a cc per pound (which is one-tenth of a 1.0 cc syringe). Repeat in 10 days.
Baycox has a long "half-life" of 55 hours - that is, 55 hours after administration, 1/2 of the Baycox is still in the animal's system - so it should not be used in combination with other wormers nor repeated until at least 3 days have lapsed.
Baycox is foul-tasting, and kittens/cats will foam at the mouth. I've developed a method that makes giving Baycox fairly easy. This method also will ensure kittens do not become head shy. Most kittens like the taste of Carnation evaporated milk. Gather a small bowl of warmed canned milk, a 1.0 cc syringe to measure the Baycox, a 3.0 cc syringe for the canned milk, and a tissue. Fill the correct dosage of Baycox in the 1.0 cc syringe, and completely fill the larger syringe with canned milk. Scruff the kitten and lift (like mom would) so the back feet do not touch the counter/floor. A kitten will naturally open their mouth a bit. Place the tip of the syringe filled with Baycox between the teeth and towards the back of the tongue. Depress half the amount - slowly so the kitten doesn't aspirate. Try not to let the Baycox get on the front of the tongue. Next, while you continue to scruff, give enough canned milk closer to the front of the tongue to wash down the Baycox taste. Then give the remainder of the Baycox, and more canned milk to eliminate the Baycox taste. Let the kitten down on all fours and wipe their mouth with a tissue. If they put up any kind of a fuss about the taste, or foam at the mouth, give them more canned milk.
Once you get the hang of it, you can Baycox kittens and set them down and they will immediately run and play as if nothing negative happened. There is no head shaking, no poofed fur, and no foaming. For older kittens and mothers (who need a larger dose) give 1/3 Baycox followed by milk, another 1/3 Baycox, more milk, then the last 1/3 of the Baycox and finish with as much milk as needed. Be sure to switch syringes quickly. This method works well and it's just a matter of getting the hang of it. Try to keep the kittens/cats scruffed the entire time and get it over fast!
Baycox does not require refrigeration.
Our second arsenal against coccidia is Albon. Please note this page is a work in progress and I'll write more about Albon in the future.
To Order Albon: 1800-PetMeds
1.0 cc per 2 pounds on the first day, then 0.5 cc per 2 pounds for 2-5 additional days.
Albon has a "custard-like taste" which makes it easy to give. Do not give Albon and Baycox on the same day.
Please Note: It's crucial that during treatment kittens/cats maintain adequate water intake.
Store Albon at room temperature.
Note: Metronidazole is often prescribed by veterinarians for diarrhea, but Albon is more effective to sooth and inflamed intestinal tract. However, it is not effective against Giardia or Tritrichomonas (see below).
Giardia is a protozoan parasite. The first life cycle is a fragile, feeding form that lives in the gut of infected cats. The second is a hardy cystic form that is shed in feces. The cystic form can survive several months - especially in moist environments, and is resistant to freezing and water chlorination. Giardia is generally considered the most prevalent parasite in cats.
A cat becomes infected after swallowing the cyst stage of the parasite. It's transferred through contact with infected feces, licking fur after contact with a contaminated surface such as a litter box, or drinking from contaminated water. Cats can be infected with Giardia without developing clinical signs. After exposure, the incubation period is one to two weeks.
Symptoms of Giardia is a foul-smelling diarrhea ranging from soft to watery, often with a greenish tinge, vomiting, and dehydration. Diarrhea can be intermittent, and symptoms can persist for several weeks, with a resulting gradual loss of weight loss. The disease is not usually life threatening, but can be serious in kittens or older cats.
Like Baycox, Panacur is foul-tasting. Besides the method outlined above, you can put Panacur directly into a wet meal. Most kittens/cats will not notice. But if you use this method, you need to ensure you feed each kitten/cat individually and that they finish everything.
To Order Panacur: Revival Animal Health
Adults: 1.0 cc per 5 pounds, once daily, for 5 days. Repeat in 3 weeks.
Kittens: 0.25 cc per pound for 3 days. Repeat in 3 weeks.
Do not use Panacur with other wormers.
Does not require refrigeration.
Note: Metronidazole is often prescribed by veterinarians for Giardia; however, Panacur is more effective because 30% of Giardia is now immune to Metronidazole. If you do choose to use Metronidazole, the dosage: crush a 250mg tablet, mix with 10.00 cc of water, give 0.10 cc per 5 pounds (0.20 per pound).
|Weight (pounds)||Amount (cc or ml)||Weight (pounds)||Amount (cc or ml0|
Tritrichomonas foetus (TTF) was first recognized in the USA in 1999. This single-celled protozoa lives in the feline colon, and testing is not yet routine at most veterinary clinics. Fecal floats will not detect TTF and it can easily be misdiagnosed as Giardia. A specific TTF test is required to diagnose TTF infection.
Infected cats may or may not have diarrhea. After a cat is infected it could be days or even years before there are symptoms.
Infection is generally spread through shared litter boxes. TTF can live for several days in a moist stool. If untreated, about 90% of infected cats will resolve their diarrhea issues within two years; however, they will remain carriers and can infect other cats. There is a theory that prolonged exposure to TTF will cause inflammatory bowel disease.
Tests for TTF:
- Direct smear - sensitivity poor, detects only 14% of infected cats and care is needed to not misdiagnose as Giardia.
- Fecal culture - feces is incubated in a growth medium (see Bio Pouches below). Sensitivity is good with about 50% accuracy.
- Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) molecular biology test with excellent sensitivity. Regarding the PCR test, if a cat has firm stools it's suggested a veterinarian prescribe a laxative. Loosening the stool allows TTF to temporarily increase in numbers, making it easier to find.
Ronidazole is the only drug that has proven successful in eliminating TTF. Unfortunately, there is no toxicity data for this drug for use in cats, and it has caused seizures and/or death. It's imperative that Ronidazole is given only to cats that have tested positive for TTF.
Ronidazole Dosage: 30 mg per kg once daily for 14 days. Dosage must be accurately calculated for each cat based on body weight. Do not give Ronidazole to cats that are: 1) systematically ill; 2) pregnant or nursing kittens; 3) kittens under 12 weeks of age.
For in depth information on TTF: Tritrichomonas Manual
File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
To Order Bio Pouches: Biomed Diagnostics
Note: In some cases TTF is resistant to Ronidazole. A breeder friend's a cat tested TTF positive after two separate treatments. He then used the previous recommended dosage of 30 mg per kg twice daily and the cat tested TTF negative.
Use Imodium To Stop Severe Diarrhea
Loperamide Hydrochloride Tablets USP 2 mg
High end dose: dissolve one table (2 mg) into 27.5 cc water. Give 0.1 cc per pound.
Low end dose: dissolve one table (2 mg) into 55.0 cc water. Give 0.1 cc per pound.
Give the above dose once or twice.
Note: Kaopectate is not safe for use with cats.