Piroplasmosis in cats: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention

Although it is much rarer in cats than in dogs, piroplasmosis is nonetheless a very dangerous blood disease for our feline friends. It is therefore important to know how to recognize the symptoms in order to be able to act quickly, because if it is not taken care of in time, piroplasmosis can unfortunately lead to the death of our companions.

Symptoms of piroplasmosis in cats

For all of our pets who go out for outdoor walks, ticks are a recurring problem. If our cat is unlucky enough to miss a tick, it can cling to its hair, dig its sting into the cat’s skin and feed by sucking its blood. This is how the parasite responsible for piroplasmosis is transmitted to it.

Some ticks are carriers of babesia, a parasite that contaminates the blood of its victim. This multiplies its cells inside the cat’s red blood cells, until they explode. The bursting of these red blood cells will release a large amount of infected hemoglobin, and will poison our poor feline friend.

From the moment it has been infected, the cat will radically change its behavior. Unlike the dog who will present from the start with fever and signs of jaundice (the skin and mucous membranes take on a yellowish color), the cat will only develop these symptoms at a fairly advanced stage of the disease. .

The first signs of piroplasmosis in cats are noticed by noticing great fatigue: your companion will then become amorphous, will not move very much, and he will also refuse to eat, consequently losing a lot of weight which will lead to a lack of energy to produce the antibodies needed to fight infection. The cat will also have diarrhea, which will dehydrate it.

Diagnosis of piroplasmosis in cats

As soon as you have spotted the first symptoms, it is imperative to make an appointment as soon as possible with your veterinarian. Indeed, if the cat is not taken care of in the first two days after the onset of symptoms, this can leave him more or less serious after-effects, or even go up to death if the infection is really too much. virulent.

The vet will do a blood test (also called a blood smear), taking blood from the pinna of the cat’s ear. If this examination does not provide a conclusive result, the veterinarian will then request a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), a complex specific examination which aims to detect traces of bebesia DNA in the cat’s blood.

Treatment of piroplasmosis in cats

The classic treatment for piroplasmosis is quite cumbersome, since it consists of giving the cat powerful antibiotics by injection, which aim to identify and destroy the babesia parasites in your pet’s blood.

In the most severe cases, where the disease has not been treated in time, treatment may even range from infusion for a few hours to a few days to clean the blood, and even to transfusion of blood into the blood. extreme cases.

How to prevent piroplasmosis in cats?

Unfortunately, there is no real prevention possible against piroplasmosis. The best thing to do is to check your cat’s skin regularly, especially if she is used to going outside.

You can also protect it from ticks with anti-tick collars or pipettes, mainly in spring and autumn, when ticks are most numerous as the mild temperatures and humid weather are particularly appreciated by these pests.

Piroplasmosis is a disease whose symptoms are better known in order to be able to react as soon as possible. However, there is no need to worry too much, as the types of babesia capable of infecting cats are extremely rare in Europe, these are mostly found in South Africa, Southeast Asia and in South America.