What to do if the cat has worms? Intestinal worms are very common in cats. Which is certainly a matter of great concern to us. But we have no reason to worry as intestinal worms in cats are relatively easy to treat. Although some cats develop serious problems with intestinal worms, most cats recover completely with treatment.
But we should develop a proper immune system in the cat’s intestine to prevent worms from entering the cat’s intestine. And that’s why you can take the following simple steps to protect your cat or kitten from these parasites.
What intestinal worms infect cats?
According to Jessica Nichols (DVM), one of the leading veterinarians in Neuter Kansas City, there are several types of intestinal worms that can infect cats. And each of these worms has its own characteristics, with different levels of infection. Below are some of the worms that are commonly found in most cats:
Roundworms (also called ascarids) are long, brownish-round parasites. It looks like a cooked email. According to Jessica Nichols (DVM), the most common worm found in kittens’ intestines is a roundworm. And cats infect kittens more often than adults.
Tapeworms look long, white and flat. They have hook-like segments in front of their mouths that they use to attach themselves to the cat’s intestinal wall. The long filaments (also called proglottids) of adult tapeworms extend into the infected cat’s faeces.
According to Jessica Nichols (DVM), these proglottids, or long ribbons of tapeworms, resemble grains of rice, which often move around the end of an infected cat’s anus.
According to Nichols, hookworms are much less common in kittens than tapeworms and roundworms. This, of course, is a good sign because this hookworm is a particularly nasty parasite. Roundworms are blood-feeding roundworms that live in the intestines and cause a variety of infections called helminths.
Additionally, according to Nichols, “They feed on food and drink floating around the kittens’ intestines. But they are parasites that, unlike other worms, sink their teeth into the cat’s gut and suck blood.”
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Whipworms can commonly infect the intestines of cats. However, according to the Bureau of Animal Parasites, the rate of whipworm infection in kittens in North America is very low. But the rate of whipworm infection is much higher in tropical regions.
As you might think, there is another type of parasite that can infect cats, called heartworms. The worms I explained above all live primarily in the cat’s intestines, but in contrast, heartworms live in the cat’s heart and lungs and infect the cat’s heart and lungs, causing feline heart disease. Therefore heartworm prevention is very important as it can cause serious disease in cats.
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How are cats infected with worms?
Kittens are infested with worms from a variety of sources. In particular, they are infected by rats, flies, and primarily by feeding on the milk of mothers infected with their worms.
Roundworms: Kittens often get roundworms through infected mothers’ milk. However, both adult cats and kittens can become infected by eating roundworm eggs in the feces of a dog or cat infected with roundworms, or by eating the meat of infected rodents or other small animals.
Tapeworms: According to Nichols, cats are not infected by eating the eggs carried by the long filaments or proglottids of tapeworms. They become infected with tapeworms by eating tapeworm-infected flies or other infected small animals such as mice, squirrels and rabbits.
Roundworms: According to Nichols, roundworms usually release their eggs through the faeces of an infected animal, which then hatch into baby roundworms that live in the soil. Kittens then become infected by eating baby earthworms from the soil or by eating infected rodents, birds or cockroaches. And baby hookworms are able to infect cats by travelling through their skin and into their intestines
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How can you be sure your cat is infected with worms?
Signs or symptoms of worms in cats depend on the extent of infestation by the parasite. That is, depending on how many worms the cat has. However, cats with intestinal worms often have no symptoms.
Some common symptoms of roundworm infection in cats include diarrhoea, weight loss, lethargy, grey hair color, stunted growth (ie kittens don’t grow as they should) and occasional vomiting.
According to Nichols, “Kittens infected with roundworms often have flatulence, and kittens that are heavily infected sometimes have dead roundworms in their stools or vomit.
And roundworm infections can cause many cats to suffer from anaemia (meaning they don’t have enough red blood cells to carry the oxygen their body needs). Also, the most worrying thing is that many cats, especially adults, do not show any symptoms of roundworm infection.
According to Nichols, ‘most of the time cats infected with tapeworms show no symptoms at all. However, regular cat owners sometimes notice common symptoms of tapeworm-infested cats, including the presence of tapeworm eggs in the cat’s faeces and on the hind end of the cat’s poop. In general, if the cat is infected with tapeworms, the symptoms of vomiting, and diarrhoea may appear.
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According to Nichols, cat hookworm infestations can lead to severe anaemia and even sudden death in cats, in addition to the common symptoms of diarrhoea caused by blood-sucking hookworms. And in their list of infections, kittens are most at risk. Another characteristic of hookworms is that they can easily become infested, usually on the cat’s paws and abdomen, where wounds form when cats are injured.
Can be done if the cat has worms
Although intestinal worms can cause serious problems in cats, once you determine if your cat is infected with worms, they can be easily eliminated.
How to diagnose if your cat is infected with worms and how to treat it?
- Roundworms: According to Nichols, ‘Cat stools are often tested to determine if there are roundworms in the cat’s gut. A microscope is used to look for roundworm eggs in a sample of the cat’s stool.’ Because cats can have roundworms without showing any symptoms, he recommends a faecal float test to check for roundworms in cats at least once a year.
- Cats infected with roundworms are usually given an oral dewormer, which will immediately kill all the worms in the cat’s intestines. However, the number of dewormers given to the cat will depend on the rate of roundworm infestation. Cats infected with large numbers of roundworms are given multiple doses. Since roundworm infestation is very common in kittens, you can give your kitten a dose of roundworm as a general precaution.