Staying true to its freeloader ways, the microscopic parasite giardia hitches a free ride inside your kitty, no boarding pass or ride voucher at all. To make things worse, the parasite wreaks havoc on your little feline, causing a bunch of digestive problems. And the problems are quite noticeable.
Diarrhea is the hallmark symptom of giardia, and it's one of the most unpleasant effects of any illness. And your cat isn't anymore a fan of it than you are. Sometimes your cat may not be able to make it to the litter box, because the urge to relieve himself can come very suddenly. If he does manage to find his way into his box, check the litter after he's done for a very loose and wet stool. It may also be bloody. If you have a long-haired kitty, consider yourself a bit unlucky in this case. The fur around his anus will usually be a bit messy, so he'll have to suffer through a few cleanings until he gets better.
What's That Smell?
If the air around you starts smelling foul and rotten and it happens a little too frequently, consider your kitty a suspect. Giardia can cause flatulence that will have you holding your nose and your feline sitting there innocently. Flatulence itself doesn't immediately point to giardia. But if it's happening over and over again, the tiny parasite might be to blame.
You Look Thinner
Internal parasites aren't comfortable for your kitty, and they can sometimes make his stomach ache and cause him to become nauseated. An upset tummy leads to a kitty that eats less than normal, which eventually leads to weight loss. You can try making his food more enticing by warming it up with water.
A Loss of Water
With diarrhea comes dehydration. Unlike normal stool, diarrhea is largely water. To compensate for losing large amounts of water, your kitty may drink more than normal. But if the diarrhea is severe, he may be losing more than he's taking in. Look for the most common signs of dehydration, which include lethargy, poor skin elasticity and pale gums. Press on his gums with your finger gently and you'll notice them turn white. If the normal pink color doesn't return within two seconds, he's dehydrated.
All of the symptoms caused by giardia are also seen in a slew of other illnesses, some extremely dangerous. If any of the aforementioned symptoms appear -- aside from flatulence -- make an immediate vet appointment. Give your vet a call if your kitty experiences excessive flatulence but no other symptoms. Dehydration and a lack of appetite are extremely dangerous. Many animals can go a little while without eating, but cats can suffer liver damage in less than a week if they don't eat. If your kitty does have giardia, your vet will likely prescribe an antibiotic and an anti-parasitic drug.