List of the kind of parasites inside stray cats in the Middle East

It may interest cat owners to understand better the kind of endoparasites (parasites living inside an animal) that inhabit stray cats in the Middle East. It concerns and interest me. I'm interested in the health of stray and feral cats. How healthy are they when left entirely alone? We know that feral cats cared for by TNR volunteers can live quite good lives; even better than domestic cat sometimes. But what about stray and feral cats living without any human intervention? The cats at the bottom of the list in terms of health and welfare.

There are some studies about these sorts of cats and one such study took place in Iran (Gastrointestinal parasites of stray cats in Kashan, Iran by Mohsen Arbabi and Hossein Hooshyar of the Department of Medical Parasitology, Kashan University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Kashan-Iran). It was published in 2008. The scientists looked at the species i.e. type of gastrointestinal parasites inside stray cats in Kashan, Iran.

Feeding stray cats in Iran
Feeding stray cats in Iran. Not all stray cats are so lucky but these animals are infested with endoparasites. Photograph in the public domain and on Pinterest.

The first point to make is that, perhaps as expected, 95.6% of the 108 cats checked were infested with endoparasites inside the gastrointestinal tract. The second point to note, and a side point, is that all these cats were killed and necropsied. In other words they were cut open and their organs: kidney, heart, liver, lungs, gastrointestinal tract checked for parasites. That is disturbing.

RELATED: 95% of stray cats have worms and 57% scavenge potentially life-threatening refuse.

About two thirds of the cats were male and the remainder were female. They found 15 species of endoparasites including helminths and protozoa. Helminths are parasitic worms i.e. nematodes. Protozoa are single-cells microscopic creatures and parasitic as well in this instance.

RELATED: How do I know if my cat has worms?

Here is the list of parasites found inside these unfortunate cats including the percentage of cats infested:

Nematodea (worms):

  • Toxocara cati 13.3%;
  • Physaloptera preputialis 39.8%,;
  • Rictularia 52.2%;
  • Uncinaria stenocephala 1.8%;
  • Cestodea (tapeworm):
  • Mesocestoides lineatus 7.1%;
  • Taenia taeniaformis 15%;
  • Diplopylidium nolleri 64.6%;
  • Dipylidium caninum 68.1%;
  • Joyeuxiella echinorhyncoides 85% (small worm: maximum length of 9 cm , and often being only 2 to 3 cm in length)

Sporozea (a protozoan with a cyst-forming stage in their life cycle):

  • Isospora rivolta 5.3%;
  • Isospora felis 5.3%;
  • Sarcocystis spp 8%,;
  • Blastocystis spp 16.8%.

Zoomastigophorea (another species of protozoan which are flagellates):

  • Giardia felis 0.9%;
  • Trichomonas spp 1.8%.

They decided that the contamination rate for zoonotic parasites i.e. parasites that can be transmitted between animals and people, was greater than expected in this region of Iran. They suggested, therefore, their control measures should be taken to protect people.

What is the point of this article? Answer: to remind ourselves and to highlight the fact that human carelessness leads to animal suffering. It leads to ill health in animals. And let's not brush the problem under the carpet. Let's take responsibility. These cats are in their predicament because we put them there. This is a humankind problem. It is carelessness and thoughtlessness. And to compound the problem these cats are often persecuted as pest and vermin by ignorant people. It's a double whammy of ignorance and inevitably it is animals who face the consequences primarily.

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