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Category: Cats

Role of Feline Tritrichomonas foetus in Venereal Infection (Study Closed)
November 1, 2007 (published)
Jody Gookin
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Study Start Date: 06/30/2007
Study End Date: 06/30/2008

Role of Feline Tritrichomonas foetus in Venereal Infection

Tritrichomonas foetus (TF) is a protozoan pathogen that infects the feline colon resulting in chronic, foul-smelling diarrhea. The infection is very common and can be found in 31% of purebred cats attending an international cat show. Treatment is difficult as only one drug has been shown effective, is expensive, sometimes toxic, and fails to clear the infection in some cats making eradication from the cattery extremely difficult.

The same organism responsible for feline diarrhea is also found in cattle were it infects the reproductive tract. Bulls cannot be cleared of the infection, because antibiotics do not effectively reach the infected genitalia. We have noted that male cats are often the ones failing treatment of TF infection, leading us to surmise that TF may also reside in the reproductive tract of cats. We have identified DNA from TF in genitalia from a male cat with TF diarrhea.

In this study we will examine the reproductive tract of 100 cats undergoing spay or neuter by offering ~2,500 cattery owners (via breeder list-serves) free testing for intestinal TF if we receive both a fecal and reproductive tract specimen. Molecular techniques able to detect minute amounts of DNA from TF will be used to look for its presence in reproductive organs and feces. Reproductive tissue will be directly examined for TF organisms. Venereal involvement in feline TF may explain incidences of treatment failure and high prevalence of disease in breeding programs and has significant implications for the design of effective treatment and prevention strategies.

Study Design:
Prospective cohort study

Sample Size:
100 cats

Inclusion criteria:

  1. A purebred cat of any age
  2. Resides in a cattery in the U.S. with an active breeding program (kittens born in the last 3-years)
  3. Fecal sample and reproductive tract simultaneously submitted to our laboratory by a licensed veterinarian
  4. Owner completes a short questionnaire
  5. Any number of adult cats and up to 2 kittens (<8-mos of age) per cattery may be enrolled.

Exclusion Criteria:
Other than above.


  1. Fecal specimen - lima bean sized fresh feces in a red top tube full of rubbing alcohol
  2. Reproductive tract specimen - 1/2 tract in formalin; 1/2 tract in sterile saline; prepucial/vaginal swab in rubbing alcohol.
  3. See the following website for full submission and testing information
  4. Informed consent will not be required from owners.


  1. FedEx shipping charges associated with sample submission.
  2. PCR for T.foetus on the fecal sample will be performed at no charge to the client.
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Full Disclosure information:

  • The study is funded by a grant from Winn Feline Foundation.
  • The investigators do not have any conflict of interest.
  • The study will be published if results are negative.
  • The study will not be reported on VIN.
  • The authors will acknowledge VIN if the study is published.

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