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While Chagas Disease in cats is not very common, both humans and dogs can develop the disease easily. Cats aren’t risk-free either. Common-sense precautions will go a long way toward reducing your chances of having Chagas appear in your home.

Chagas’ disease is caused by infection with another trypanosome, Trypanosoma cruzi. Insects transmit the disease between susceptible species of animals, including opossums, armadillos, rodents, and wild, meat-eating animals. The trypanosome causes disease in humans. Although cats can be infected, they do not have a major role in transmission of the disease to people.

Causes Chagas Disease in Cats

Chagas Disease, also called “trypanosomiasis”, is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. Trypanosoma cruzi is a blood parasite that lives in the bloodstream, inside white blood cells, and in cells of the muscle. It is spread by the Reduvid (subfamily Triatoma) bug.

Symptoms of Chagas Disease in Cats

Most cats infected with T. cruzi are asymptomatic and do not manifest signs of Chagas disease, but can be carriers. When they do, however, symptoms in felines have been noted to include hind leg paralysis and convulsions. Many animals, including cats, do not exhibit symptoms until years after they have been initially infected.


If you live in an area that is prone to kissing or assassin bugs, and you notice signs that your pet may have a form of Chagas Disease or that he is acting differently, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.

Your veterinarian may perform a thorough examination of your pet, and in most cases, also will order a complete blood profile, urinalysis, serology, and an electrolyte panel to search for markers of a parasitic infection. An X-ray and echocardiogram also can be used to look for signs of any pulmonary diseases.

Treatment and Prevention of Chagas Disease in Dogs

Chagas Disease has no known cure, and because it can be transmitted easily to humans, dogs and cats who contract the parasite commonly are euthanized. However, some drugs have shown promise when administered in the acute stage of the disease.

Because the kissing bug is relatively small, a bite can happen without you realizing it. It’s best to approach this proactively.

Keep your home clean, both inside and out. Don’t leave piles of papers lying around, and clean up leaf debris outside. The fewer places the bug can hide in, the better. Your pets should stay indoors at night, and don’t let them hang around wild animals like opossums and raccoons.


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