The fecal flotation test is a test used to look for the presence of worm eggs or proglottids (tapeworm segments) or protozoan (single celled organisms) cysts in the feces. These parasites are found in the intestines and/or stomach of the cat and reproduce by releasing eggs or cysts which are passed out of the cat via the feces where they are then ingested by a new host.
How is a fecal flotation performed?
- A small amount of feces (approximately 1 inch/2.5cm long) that is less than 24 hours old is placed in a container known as a “fecalyzer” and a liquid salt or sugar solution added. A glass “coverslip” is then placed over the top of the container.
- The sample is left to stand for around 20 minutes to allow any eggs of cysts to float to the surface.
- The coverslip is removed and placed under a microscope to check for eggs or cysts.
Sometimes a negative result will be found even though your cat may be infected. This may be due to low parasite burdens or parasites being too young to reproduce. If this occurs, a repeat fecal flotation test may be necessary and/or your veterinarian will recommend treating your cat based on his index of suspicion.
If you, as a pet owner are asked to obtain a stool sample, it should be placed in a clean, dry container or a sandwich bag and sealed. The sample should be stored in a refrigerator until it is taken to your veterinary surgery.