Can cats be tested for toxoplasmosis?

Cats can be tested for toxoplasmosis. Serologic tests including ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) will show if a cat has been exposed to the disease. A positive test in a healthy cat signifies that the cat has acquired active immunity. Such a cat is not a source of human contamination. For the sake of clarity “serologic tests” means tests on the blood to look for antibodies which are created in response to an infection as part of the immune response.

\Rose a moggie cat
Rose, a moggie cat and a tortie-and-white cat. Photo copyright Helmi Flick.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Also, the finding of Toxoplasma gondii oocysts in a cat’s faeces indicates that the cat is currently infective (can cause an infection) to other cats and to people. This is a zoonotic disease. Coronavirus is also zoonotic.

As for symptoms of the illness, this disease is usually asymptomatic (i.e. without symptoms). When they are present the disease affects the lungs, lymphatic system, eyes, spinal-cord, and the brain. The most common symptoms are, rapid breathing, cough, lethargy and loss of appetite. There may also be neurological signs. Other symptoms may include swelling of the abdomen, diarrhoea, weight loss and fever. The lymph nodes may be enlarged and kittens may suffer from pneumonia, liver insufficiency and encephalitis.

My research, however, throws up some issues. Firstly, many cat with toxoplasmosis may also be concurrently suffering from feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or feline leukaemia virus ( FeLV).

Cornell state that the usual diagnosis of toxoplasmosis in cats is based upon a cat’s history and symptoms combined with laboratory tests. I refer to all of those above.

A positive serological test does not mean that toxoplasmosis is causing the signs of illness in a cat because as mentioned there may be concurrent illnesses and in any case most cases of toxoplasmosis in felines are asymptomatic as also mentioned.

Draco a glamorous moggie cat
A superb show moggy! Photo copyright Helmi Flick. This is a tabby. It is possible to show moggies at cat shows.

The conclusion that I can draw from this research is that it is possible to test cats for toxoplasmosis and you will have to see a veterinarian to do that. Your veterinarian will be able to add far more detail than I am able to do through research. This really is veterinarian’s work as it is quite complicated.

If you are considering a test because you have a cat and are about to have a child and are fearful about getting toxoplasmosis from your cat, it may be helpful if you read a page that I have written on this recently which is about getting toxoplasmosis from cat litter.


Sources: Reference books and authoritative websites but discuss it with your vet please.

There are many page about this disease on this site. Here are some recent ones:

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