Porky & Buddy Pet Health – Does My Kitten Have Giardia?

Dear Porky & Buddy,

I just adopted a kitten, Sophie, from the Humane Society and the next day she came down with terrible diarrhea.

My neighbor told me it was probably something called giardia, and that a lot of adopted kittens have it and I should return her and demand my money back.  But she is a really sweet kitten. What do you think I should do?

Dear Linda,

Well, the first thing to do is STOP going to your neighbor for veterinary advice.  The second thing to do is call the Humane Society and ask these questions:  Was Sophie previously treated for giardia?  And if so how long ago?  Your vet will want to know that.

And second, if you don’t already know, what was Sophie being fed?

There are numerous possible causes for diarrhea.  In your scenario, one very good possibility is simply stress.

Cats do not like change, and although they eventually adjust to a brand new home, diarrhea is not uncommon the first few days.   Another very common possibility is a sudden change in her diet.  It is ok to change a kitten’s diet, but you need to do it by first mixing in the new food slowly with the old food and gradually changing the proportions over a week to ten days to give her time to adjust.

So, if you did change her food abruptly, it may help to go back to her old food and start over.

In the meantime, there is no harm in calling your veterinarian. She will ask you a series of questions to determine how severe the diarrhea is. It will be helpful for her to know when the diarrhea started, how many bowel movements Sophie has had, what they look like, and if Sophie seems uncomfortable.

It is especially important that you call your veterinarian immediately if Sophie has blood in the diarrhea or the stools are black or tarry; if  she has a fever, or is depressed, or dehydrated; if her gums are pale or yellow;  if she appears to be in pain; or if  she is also vomiting.

The fact that she is a kitten and may not have all of her vaccinations yet is another reason to be careful.

Your vet will advise you whether just to wait a few days or come right in.

Giardia, by the way, is a parasite found pretty much everywhere.  It is very common in young animals, because they have not yet built up a resistance to it.

While it is difficult to diagnose, it is easy to treat and your vet, if that is the problem, will of course provide you with the necessary medications.  If you vet thinks that Sophie may have developed this infection while she was in the care of  the Humane Society, you should call them to let them know -in case there are other kittens at risk – and you should ask if they are willing to share in the veterinary costs.

It depends on the policies of that Humane Society but most are committed to doing the very best for their adopted animals, so it is worth asking.

And no, do not return her for crying out loud, and THANK YOU for adopting her.

Speaking of humane societies,  the Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.

Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY. Phone (315) 207-1070.

Email:[email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org

Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other!