What’s in the Poo? Erin Peterson, LVT
Do you wonder why we ask you to bring in a stool sample when you come in for a visit with your cat or new kitten? Well we want to make sure they are not carrying any type of intestinal parasites. Even though your cat may stay indoors all the time or is supervised outside, it is important to make sure they are not carrying any of these unwanted critters. If your cat goes out and hunts mice or small animals it is imperative that we check a fecal sample twice a year as they tend to be more prone to these parasites. Some of these parasites are found in small rodents and can also be transmitted by fleas.
Kittens especially need their stool checked as most of them are born with “worms”. They get these from their mother usually when they nurse and may need to be dewormed multiple times, and have at least 2-3 fecal samples checked on them. This is because sometimes the parasites are not producing eggs and we want to make sure we rid your little kitty of the adults and the eggs. Even if the fecal is negative or no worms are seen, we may choose to deworm your cat. Deworming is quite easy to do, depending on the type of parasite or as a general deworming. It may come in a liquid, topical application that goes on the back of the neck or in a pill form.
How do we check for parasites? Well we sometimes send the sample to the lab or if it is the weekend, we will run the sample in our in house lab. We take a small amount of stool from the sample you brought in (fresher the better within 12 hrs) and place it is a small cup and mix it with water to make a poo slurry. We then place that sample in a small tube and place it in a machine called a centrifuge which spins the sample down really fast and at a high rate of speed (just think of the amusement park and the ride the gravitron). It spins for 5 mins and then we drain the water and add a special fecal solution that will help draw any possible parasite eggs to the surface. We then spin it down again for 5 mins and then add more fecal solution and place a small glass piece or cover slip over the sample for 10 mins. We then place the cover slip on a glass microscope slide and look at the sample under the microscope. If the eggs are present we will see them.
Some of the most common parasites we see in these fecal samples are roundworms, coccidia (protozoa) and tapeworms. If your cat or kitten is heavily infested with roundworms sometimes they will vomit them up as long spaghetti shaped objects or you may see them in the stool. Other signs of infestation of intestinal worms include diarrhea, sometimes bloody or mucousy. If your cat has tapeworms you may see small rice like segments in the stool, around the rectum or dried up around the house. Tapeworms are passed by fleas and small rodents. For more information of intestinal parasites that may affect your kitty please check out our website at www.thecatpracticepc.com or you can always ask one of your technicians or doctors.