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Cytauxzoonosis and Atovaquone: What You Need to Know

Cytauxzoonosis and Atovaquone: What You Need to Know

Cytauxzoonosis is a serious infection in cats caused by a protozoal hemoparasite known as Cytauxzoon felis. This parasite is primarily transmitted by Ixodid ticks, which become infected after ingesting the blood or tissue cells of an infected host. The disease is most commonly observed in southeastern and south-central regions of the United States, particularly from April through September.

Understanding the Risk

Cats living in heavily wooded, low-population residential areas near natural habitats are at greater risk. Bobcats, which are common in these areas, are the primary carriers of Cytauxzoon felis. While bobcats often remain asymptomatic, domestic cats infected by this parasite face a high mortality rate if not treated promptly. The infection progresses rapidly, often leading to death as the infected cells cause blockages in white blood cells.


Diagnosing Cytauxzoonosis typically involves identifying the classic signet ring-shaped merozoites in a blood smear test. Early detection is crucial for improving the chances of survival.

Effective Treatment Options

One effective treatment for Cytauxzoonosis in cats is a combination of Atovaquone and Azithromycin. Studies have shown a survival rate of 60% with this treatment, compared to just 26% with the alternative therapy, Imidocarb. Both Atovaquone and Azithromycin can be compounded into flavored suspensions, making them easier to administer and potentially lifesaving if started promptly.

Dosing Information

  • Atovaquone: 15mg/kg by mouth every 8 hours for 10 days
  • Azithromycin: 10mg/kg by mouth every 24 hours for 10 days

Awareness and Prevention

Awareness of Cytauxzoonosis and its treatment options can save lives. Veterinary professionals should educate cat owners about the risks and symptoms of this infection, especially those living in high-risk areas. Early intervention with the appropriate medication can significantly improve survival rates in infected cats.

By understanding the transmission, symptoms, and treatment options for Cytauxzoonosis, veterinarians and cat owners can work together to protect feline health.


Boothe, D.M. Antimicrobial Therapy in Veterinary Medicine, John Wiley & Sons; 2013.
Plumb, D.C. Plumb’s Veterinary Drug Handbook. Wiley-Blackwell; 2018.

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