Fecal Exam for Cats

Fecal examinations can reveal potential digestive issues from diarrhea to worms in the stool.

Adult worms may live in the intestinal tract of cats. The cat may not show any signs, and the adult worms may never be seen. If there are a more significant number of worms, the cat may have weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, coughing, lethargy, bloody stool and a distended abdomen. Adult worms may be seen in the cat’s stool, around the cat’s tail, or vomited up. Not only can they pose a risk to your cat’s health, but some worms are also “zoonotic” meaning they can infect humans. People who are very young, very old, or who are immunocompromised are at the highest risk.

What is a cat fecal parasite screen?

A fecal parasite screen is a lab procedure that is performed using a very small amount of feces from your cat’s litter box. The sample is examined for internal parasites or their eggs.

The Fairview Animal Hospital follows the guidelines set by the Companion Animal Parasite Council. They recommend monthly broad-spectrum deworming and annual fecal parasite screening in adult cats. More frequent screening in kittens are suggested as they may be born with internal parasites. It is also important to screen indoor cats as parasites may be transmitted through insects they ingest, the soil in planters, contact with fecal matter from other animals in the house, or from indoor rodents they find and kill. The monthly preventatives do not cover every parasite that cats can pick up, another reason for screening annually.

What does a fecal parasite screen reveal?

A fecal parasite screen reveals the presence of microscopic parasites such as giardia or coccidia. It also reveals the presence of microscopic eggs of such commonly seen worms as roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, and lungworms.

How is a fecal parasite screen performed?

There are several different methods of examining your cat’s feces. Some can be run in the clinic, with immediate results, other methods we send out to our diagnostic lab, and the results take a few days.

We place a fresh smear of feces on a microscope slide with a drop of saline and microscopically look for any signs of motility or giardia. We then mix the feces with a solution which due to the specific gravity, enables any eggs to float to the top and adhere to a coverslip. We then look for the eggs under a microscope. We can centrifuge the sample first, spinning it at high speeds, this may reveal more numbers of eggs.
Finally, we can combine these methods of looking for eggs, with an antigen test that identifies a protein produced by the adult worms. It will increase the chance of detecting infection as the adult worms are not continually shedding eggs that are looked for in the above methods.

What is the best method for collecting my cat’s stool?

A small amount of your cat’s stool can be collected directly out of the litter box at home, placed into a clean, plastic container, and brought into the clinic. You can ask us in advance for gloves to wear, and a container to use. We do not need much. Ideally, a small area (tsp) from 3 different areas of the stool will give us the best results. It is important that we receive the sample as fresh as possible. If need be, it can be double bagged and stored in your fridge for a few hours if it cannot be brought directly to the clinic. When collecting a sample, try to get a little kitty litter with it as possible.

How much does a cat stool test cost?

For pricing, please contact the hospital and we will be happy to provide you with a quote.

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