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Thromboembolic Disease


Thromboembolic Disease

Thromboembolic disease occurs where the enlarged affected heart (cardiomyopathy), is no longer able to pump efficiently.

Slowing down of the blood occurs resulting in the clotting system becoming activated. This results in the formation of an embolus or clot in the heart chamber.

Small pieces of the embolus can break off and travel through the circulation, becoming trapped in smaller arteries.

The most common place for the embolus to be trapped in the cat, is at the point at which the blood supply to each of the hindlegs and the tail branches (called a saddle thrombus).

The resulting obstruction causes sudden loss of use of both hind legs and the tail, which become cold, hard and painful with a loss of pulse.

This sudden event can sometimes be mistaken for a cat that has been in a road traffic accident and is initially very painful if witnessed by the owner. The cat remains paralysed in both its hindlimbs.

Although some cats may recover full function of their limbs with appropriate treatment, their longer term outlook is often poor if there is an underlying untreated heart disease present.

The possibility of other clots occurring is also a big danger.

Reduction of the risk of thromboembolism may be achieved by the use of low doses of aspirin. As it is easy to overdose a cat on aspirin, it is vital that the dose and interval given is closely monitored by your vet.


Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by infection with the organism called Toxoplasma gondii , a microscopic single-celled organism which is one of the most common parasites of animals.

Although virtually all warm-blooded animals, including man, can be infected with this organism in the UK, it is an extremely well adapted parasite and rarely causes significant disease to the individuals which it infects.

Cats are the only primary hosts of Toxoplasma gondii. They are the only mammals in which Toxoplasma is passed through the faeces.

In the cat, the reproductive form of Toxoplasma gondii lives in the intestine and the oocysts (egg-like immature forms) exit the body in the faeces.

The oocysts must be in the environment 1-5 days before they are infective. Cats only pass Toxoplasma gondii in their faeces for a few weeks after becoming infected. The oocysts can survive several years in the environment and are resistant to most disinfectants.

The oocysts are ingested by intermediate hosts such as rodents and birds, or other animals such as dogs and humans, and migrate to the muscle and brain.

When a cat eats an infected intermediate prey, the parasite is released in the cat's intestine and the life cycle can be repeated. In any warm-blooded host, Toxoplasma gondii can also be transmitted across the placenta and through the milk.

In summary, the main sources of infection for a cat are uncooked meat (usually pork), infected prey, or as kittens via the placenta or through the milk.

Humans, dogs, and other mammals usually become infected through meat, and accidental ingestion of cat's faecal material from hands when gardening or on food.

Does it cause disease in cats?

Toxoplasma gondii can cause disease in cats. The signs of toxoplasmosis in pets are non-specific:

  • fever
  • loss of appetite
  • depression
  • vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
  • kittens may be born stillborn or ill.

In animals, like people, the disease is more common in those with suppressed immune systems. Cats with toxoplasmosis should be checked for infections with such viruses as Feline Leukaemia Virus or Feline Immunodeficiency virus.


Affected cats are treated with a specific antibiotic for a few weeks. About 60% of pets that have toxoplasmosis can recover with treatment. Recovery is less likely in animals that are young or have severe suppression of their immune systems.

Preventing human infection

Pregnant women should remember that in the UK and especially in Europe, exposures to Toxoplasma gondii through food are much more common than exposures from cat faeces, however, both do occur.

To prevent Toxoplasmosis:

  • Do not eat raw or undercooked meat.
  • Do not drink unpasteurised milk.
  • Do not eat unwashed fruits and vegetables.
  • Wash hands and food preparation surfaces with warm soapy water after handling raw meat.
  • Wear gloves when gardening. Wash hands and especialy nails after gardening.
  • Wash hands before eating (especially children).
  • Stop children (or adults) from chewing fingernails.
  • Keep children’s sandboxes and playpens covered.
  • Do not feed raw meat or undercooked meat to cats.
  • Do not allow cats to use a garden or children’s play area as their litter box.
  • Remove faeces from the litter box daily.
  • Control rodent populations and other potential intermediate hosts.
  • Pregnant women, the elderly and people with suppressed immune systems, should not clean the litter box.