Regular fecal testing is an important aspect of preventative care for cats, and an essential diagnostic tool if your feline is feeling under the weather. If your veterinarian asks you to provide a stool sample for your cat, however, it may leave you with more questions than answers. What exactly are they looking for? How does one collect a fecal sample?
We’ll address the rationale behind fecal testing, common findings on fecal exams, and the best methods for safely collecting a sample and delivering it to your veterinarian.
Why might my veterinarian request a stool sample?
Stool samples are commonly used to perform a diagnostic test called a fecal flotation, which is considered the test of choice for diagnosing most types of intestinal parasites. Your veterinarian may recommend a fecal flotation for your cat or kitten for the following reasons:
In addition to a fecal flotation, other fecal tests that your veterinarian may consider to evaluate for intestinal parasites include a fecal wet mount, Baermann funnel preparation, or fecal sedimentation.
What can a veterinarian learn from a fecal sample?
Gastrointestinal parasites of cats and kittens include both worms and single-celled organisms called protozoa. Types of worms that may be found on a feline fecal flotation include:
Types of protozoa that may be noted on a feline fecal flotation include:
How do I collect a stool sample from my cat?
To gain the most accurate results from your cat’s fecal examination, consider the following step-by-step guide on collecting a stool sample from your cat:
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Safety tips for collecting a stool sample
As discussed above, some intestinal parasites may cause infection in humans. When a stool sample is needed, a healthy, adult family member should be in charge of the collection. Children, as well as pregnant or immunosuppressed adults, should avoid contact with fecal material. When collecting a sample, your hand should not have any contact with your cat’s stool; however, thorough hand washing after sample collection is recommended. Additionally, disposable gloves may be worn as an added precaution. If you have any concerns about your ability to collect a stool sample at home, be sure to let your veterinarian know—it may be possible to collect a fecal sample directly from your cat in the clinic, using a small tool called a fecal loop (although this may be difficult in stressed animals).
How often are stool samples needed?
Your veterinarian will make recommendations on the frequency of stool sample collection specific to your cat or kitten, based on their history and overall health. General guidelines from the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) should be strongly considered. General guidelines for testing for intestinal parasites recommend conducting tests at least four times in a kitten’s first year of life, and twice yearly in adult cats.
Whether they are being used to investigate the cause of diarrhea in an older pet or screening a new kitten for intestinal parasites, stool samples play an important role in monitoring the health of your cat or How to Tell if My Cat Still Has Kittens Inside: 10 Likely Signskitten. Collecting a high-quality sample and delivering it to your veterinarian promptly will provide the most accurate results on your pet’s fecal testing, and will help to ensure that your feline is healthy and parasite-free!
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