Do cats get worms?

Cats can get worms. Intestinal worms are very common in cats especially in kittens. Infection rate of parasitic worms in kittens is as high as 75%. The threat of worm infestation is one of the health risks cats face. Cat parents are not surprised if the pet is discovered to have worms as cats would be infected at some stage in their life. Worm infestation is not as serious as other health concerns but if left untreated, this type of parasite infestation could have fatal effects.

What types of intestinal worms affect cats?

Roundworms

Roundworms are spaghetti-like worms that are about 3 to 5 inches in length. Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina are the two types of roundworms. Toxocara cati is the type that commonly infests cats. Roundworms would compete with the cat for food as these parasites would feed on the contents of the intestines. Roundworms would lay thousands of eggs inside the host’s intestines. These eggs will be passed out by the host through the feces. Cats can be infected by eating dirt that has roundworm eggs. Transmission can occur when the cat eats infested rodents. Vomiting, diarrhea, poor coat condition and pot bellied appearance in kittens are the signs of roundworm infestation.

Hookworms

These worms are less common in cats. To feed on the cat’s blood, hookworms would use their teeth-like parts to attach themselves on the cat’s intestinal walls. A hookworm infested queen can pass on the parasite to the unborn kittens through the placenta. These worms can be transmitted to nursing kittens through the milk. Cats can be infected by consuming food and water contaminated with hookworm larvae. Cats with hookworm usually have bloody stool, dull coat and pale gums. These worms can stunt the growth of kittens. Severe hookworm infestation can result to anemia.

Tapeworms

A common sign of tapeworm infestation are the rice grain-like segments that cling to the hair around the cat’s anal area. Typically, a cat that is infested with fleas would be infested with tapeworm too because fleas are the intermediate hosts of these intestinal parasites. A tapeworm larva carrying flea that is ingested by the grooming pet would start the intestinal parasite infestation. Just like hookworms, tapeworms would suck the blood of the host. Infested cats would have poor coat quality and would progressively lose weight. Severe infestation would result to anemia.

Intestinal worms would rob the cat of essential nutrients by consuming the contents of the intestines. These worms would also suck the blood of the host causing diarrhea and dehydration. Severely infested cats would have anemia. Cat parents would always be proud of the beautiful appearance of the pet. The potbellied appearance and the scraggly dry coat would certainly give the cat an unattractive appearance. Large numbers of worms in the cat’s intestines can create a blockage that can result to the death of the pet.

Products that will effectively kill the worms are readily available. Common treatments are in the form of liquid, tablets and injections. Topical products that are applied to the back of the cat’s neck are also available. These treatments though have varying degrees of efficacy. It would still be a good idea to consult a vet for the proper dosage. Moreover, kittens and adult cats have different schedules of treatment. The frequency of administering worming products would also depend on the lifestyle of the pet. Aside from the worming products, intestinal parasite infestation can be prevented by making sure that feces especially of other animals are removed from the yard. Grooming the cat regularly is one way of making sure that any flea infestation is prevented. Cats are natural hunters. These animals would hunt rodents and other small animals whenever there is an opportunity. Keeping the pet indoors at least during the night would prevent the pet from hunting and eating worm infested rodents.

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