Types Of Tapeworms In Cats
Please be aware that there are two different types of tapeworms found in cats.
The most common tapeworm is called Dipylidium caninum. These are easy-to-treat tapeworms in cats, and they are not contagious to humans.
Dipylidium is something veterinarians see every day. These worms can be very longup to 20 inches! They are flat with mouthparts that can attach to the lining of a cats intestine, where they feed.
When these worms are mature, they drop small segments , which then pass through the intestinal tract into the feces. These are the wiggling white pieces that you might find on the cats anal area or bed.
As gross as these worms are, fortunately, they rarely cause any significant harm to your kitty. However, the sight of a long, flat worm is certainly enough to turn the stomach of most cat owners!
A second form of tapeworm that can be seen in cats in some parts of the US, although very rarely, is called Echinococcus.
This form of tapeworm can be contagious to humans and is considered to be dangerous, but it is extremely uncommon. You can discuss with your veterinarian whether this form of tapeworm is of concern where you livebut keep in mind that it is very rare.
Summary Of Tapeworms In Cats
Tapeworms in cats are common intestinal parasites that often cause diarrhea. Infections can range from mild to potentially life-threatening, but are easily cured with medication. Deworming kittens during early wellness visits reduces their chances of contracting tapeworms, and regular veterinary visits throughout your cats life will further reduce the risk of contracting parasites and other diseases.
How Do These Worms Affect My Cat
Worms do not cause your animal to eat ravenously, and are most unlikely to be a cause of weight loss in adult cats. Roundworms are most likely to cause symptoms in kittens in their first 12 months of life and severity of signs reflects the degree of worm burden and age of the animal.
Characteristic signs of an infestation include a pot-belly, stunted growth or weight loss and gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and diarrhoea. Heavy burdens of migrating worm larvae in young kittens may be associated with liver or lung disease, and heavy burdens of adult worms in the gut can cause intestinal blockage. Sometimes deaths will occur.
Tapeworms have not generally been associated with specific clinical signs in the infected cat or dog, but the segments leaving the anus may cause irritation which you will observe as the affected animal licking or scooting its bottom along the ground.
If your cat is passing tapeworm segments there will also be some degree of flea infestation in the environment
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What Are The Symptoms Of Tapeworms In Cats
While tapeworm infections can cause your cat discomfort, the good news is that severe complications are rare. You may not even realize your cat is infected with tapeworms in many cases, no symptoms will be present or detectable. However, you might notice:
- Tapeworm segments crawling around your cats back end or in their stool
- Weight loss
How Do Cats Get Worms
First, lets get our flatworms straight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the specific tapeworm species that afflicts domestic cats is the flea tapeworm. Also called Dipylidium caninum the dog tapeworm or colloquially known as the cucumber tapeworm, this parasites main mode of transmission is by way of larval fleas. Fleas, you know, nourish themselves on blood. Baby fleas, on the other hand, eat whatever organic matter is ready to hand, including tapeworm eggs. As the flea, the intermediate host, grows and matures, so too, do tapeworm larvae.
Once a flea is mature and ready to feast on sweeter foods, it finds a cat or dog on which to slake its eternal bloodthirst. During the normal course of self-grooming, a cat starts scratching at its fleas. Then the cat starts biting at the fleas. While gnawing or licking at a particular itch, the cat ingests and swallows an infected flea. Digestive fluids liberate the larval tapeworm from the body of the flea, leaving the tapeworm free to grow to maturity in the cats intestines.
Upon reaching a cats small intestine, the young tapeworm latches its toothy little scolex to an intestinal wall and grows to adulthood. This process takes anywhere from 3-4 weeks. When it is mature, the tapeworm begins to slough off segments of its body, all filled with new and fresh eggs. These emerge in cat poop, waiting to burst and be eaten by larval fleas. At this point, the cycle begins again.
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How To Protect Yourself From Worms From Your Cat
Keep it clean! Wash your hands! This is the best advice to protect yourself from worms from your cat.
Wash your hands after petting an animal or cleaning the litter box.
If you are in areas where animals may defecate , be sure to wear shoes and/or wash your feet as soon as possible.
Teach children that it’s dangerous to eat soil or dirt and that they should wash their hands with soap and water after playing with pets.Effective flea control is also an essential part of preventing tapeworm in your cat and you.
What Tapeworms Can Cats Get
Several different species of tapeworms can infect our pet cats. Each has its own different life cycle, and the illnesses that they cause are also different.
- Dipylidium caninum
The most common tapeworm to infect cats in the US is called Dipylidium caninum, which is carried by infected fleas.
Cats catch the worm when they groom themselves to remove fleas, and end up swallowing the fleas as part of the grooming process. The worms then grow in the gut, and release eggs in the feces. These eggs are eaten by flea larvae, and stay there as the larvae mature into adult fleas, ready to be eaten by another cat or dog.
If your cat is infected with Dipylidium caninum, you may see small white segments of the worm in their stool or around their bottoms, which look a little like pieces of rice. These are loaded with eggs to infect other animals. Your cat may also be itchy around their bottoms.
- Echinococcus species
The two most common Echinococcus species in the US are Echinococcus granulosus and Echinococcus multilocularis. They more commonly infect dogs or wildlife such as foxes or coyotes, but they can infect cats, too.
Cats may catch these worms by eating the meat from infected animals. This might be rodents , or cattle and sheep . The worms grow in the gut and then shed their eggs into your cats stool. Unlike Dipylidium caninum, these eggs are microscopic, so you will not see them in your cats stools.
- Taenia taeniaeformis
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Can Humans Be Infected By The Worms
Some types of worms can be spread between cats and people. For example, the eggs from some of the roundworms can be ingested accidentally, with the result that the egg may hatch and the larva then migrate out of the bowel and lodge in the tissues of our bodies. Whilst this is not common, there are reports of a few children having eaten the eggs and suffering eye damage and even blindness as a result. As the eggs are also left in the soil when an infected cat does its toilet, it is always advised to wear gloves when gardening.
The common tapeworms are much less likely to infect humans, however yet again this can occur, and is most likely to be the result of an infected flea being swallowed.
Can Humans Get Worms From Dogs And Cats
There are a number of intestinal parasites or worms that can infect dogs and cats, including roundworms,hookworms and tapeworms. One worm can produce up to 100,000 eggs per day, which are then passed in the pets feces and spread throughout the area where the pet roams. Once in your home, some of these eggs can remain infective and present a health risk for your pet and humans for years. The best way to prevent infection in pets is to control the flea population in the environment.
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Tapeworm Symptoms In Cats
Most cats do not show signs of illness from tapeworm infections. Cats who have heavy flea infestations are more likely to end up with large amounts of tapeworms in their intestines, and there is potential for these patients to experience the following signs of tapeworms in cats:
- Weight loss
- Poor appetite
You may also spot the tapeworm egg segments in your cats litterbox or near their anus. Pale yellow and mobile, the Dipylidium proglottids come out with the cats feces, but the segments can also migrate from your cats anus without the presence of stool. They are about a quarter of an inch long when fresh and stretched out, but begin to dry after leaving the body and become more difficult to see. When dry, they somewhat resemble sesame seeds. Fresh or dry segments can occasionally be seen stuck to the fur around the anus or moving on the surface of fresh feces.
Tapeworm segments migrating to the anal area may also cause excessive anal itching which can lead to butt scooting or constant licking of the anal area.
What makes it so difficult to diagnose tapeworms in cats is that kitties are very fastidious groomers. Cats can clean the evidence from their backsides and bury their stool in the litterbox before anyone gets a chance to see the evidence of infection. And fecal flotations performed by your veterinarian can also come up short when trying to detect tapeworm infection due to the intermittent shedding of the egg-containing segments.
Can These Worms Infect Humans
The potential for humans, particularly children, to be infected with larval roundworms is of concern. Accidental ingestion of worm eggs by children putting soil-contaminated fingers or objects in their mouth may occasionally result in the migration of the larvae in their tissues, even though humans are not the normal host for this parasite. Affected children may have no signs of illness, or they may have severe symptoms depending on the numbers of larvae or the organs affected. Maintaining a regular worming program in family pets, covering sandpits between uses, and teaching children basic personal hygiene are practical measures to decrease their accidental uptake of roundworm eggs from the environment. Humans do not harbour the adult worms.
How often should I worm my cat?
Pregnant/nursing cats: treat after the 3rd week of pregnancy and then every 3 weeks until the kittens are weaned
Nursing kittens: treat at 1 week of age then every 2 weeks until weaning
Weaned kittens: treat monthly until 6 months
Cats 6-12 months: every 3 months
Cats12 months and older: every 3-6 months
Purchase worm treatments where you can receive informed and accurate advice on which one is best suited for your requirements. Our staff are trained and experienced to help you with selection, tips on administration, advice on frequency of use and dosage.
Broad-spectrum tablets tend to be larger and difficult to break down to an appropriate dose and manageable size for young kittens
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Causes Of Tapeworms In Cats
Tapeworms generally need to be ingested by at least two different insects or animals to complete their life cycle. The first is referred to as an intermediate host, and is the primary source of infection to other animals. Different types of tapeworms have different intermediate hosts.
These worms use fleas to progress to their next stage of life. An infected flea may bite a cat to feed, leaving tapeworm eggs in the bite wound. Once a cat licks or bites at the wound due to itch or as a part of general grooming, the tapeworm eggs may be ingested. As the eggs reach the intestines they hatch and attach to the walls using hook-shaped appendages.
The intermediate hosts of these tapeworms can be many small animals including mice, birds and rodents. As these are common prey of outdoor house cats, tapeworms may easily be spread to cats from these animals. The tapeworms create egg filled cysts on the intermediate hosts liver, which, once ingested, hatch inside the cat.
Avoid Contact With Wildlife
Cats who hunt, or who have contact with other wildlife, are at a much higher risk of contracting tapeworm than those who do not. An indoor-only lifestyle, or outdoor access via an enclosed garden or catio, will reduce the risk of your cat catching many types of parasites, including tapeworm.
If your cat does have free outdoor access, wearing a bell may reduce the amount of prey they catch.
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Can You Pull A Tapeworm Out Of A Cat
Tapeworms cancattheyofftheyoutIf youtapewormoutcat’sdopulloutIfyou could
. Similarly, you may ask, how do you get rid of tapeworms in cats?
If your cat is infested, your vet will give you a tapeworm medicine called a dewormer. Typically, dewormers are oral medications, though they can also be given through an injection. The deworming medication causes the tapeworm to dissolve in the intestines.
what happens if tapeworms go untreated in cats? If worms are left untreated for a long time, the effects can potentially be fatal particularly for kittens. The long term effect of worms in cats include anaemia from a loss of blood, or a blockage in the intestines caused by too many tapeworms both of which can have devastating consequences.
Herein, can I get tapeworm from my cat?
Feline tapeworms can be transmitted when ingestedSome feline tapeworms can be transmitted to humans. The most common tapeworm in cats is the flea tapeworm, but this species is not readily transmitted to humans as it is necessary to swallow an infected flea to contract the disease.
How long does it take to get rid of tapeworms in cats?
Most tapeworm medications kill the adult tapeworms within 24 hours after they are given. In some cases a second dose is needed 3-4 weeks later to kill any remaining adults and those that were larva at the time of the treatment.
How Do I Prevent My Cat From Getting Tapeworms
Try to keep your cat from coming in contact with intermediate hosts that contain tapeworm larvae. Because fleas are an intermediate host for the most common kind of tapeworm, flea control is an essential prevention measure.
If you think your cat is infected with tapeworms, call your veterinarian for an appointment to get an accurate diagnosis and safe, effective treatment options.
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Tapeworm Treatment And Prevention Strategies
Youre in luck, if, in the next 20 years, you or a small child you know are among the next 16 people to develop an intestinal parasite thanks to a wayward cat. The most effective and common treatment option is a medication called praziquantel. A single dose may be sufficient to eradicate tapeworms from a human.
There are a few simple things you can do to reduce the chances of hosting a flatworm party in your or your cats intestines. First is to establish a good flea control plan with your cat. That can mean anti-flea medications, baths for indoor-outdoor cats, and a flea collar. You could also monitor your cats poop or put a hind-quarters inspection on your monthly cat calendar. It is easy enough to keep your cat flea-free. Where there are no fleas, there can be no risk of tapeworms!
About the author:Melvin Peña trained as a scholar and teacher of 18th-century British literature before turning his research and writing skills to puppies and kittens. He enjoys making art, hiking, and concert-going, as well as dazzling crowds with operatic karaoke performances. His 17-year-old cat, Quacko, passed away the day before Thanksgiving, and his online life is conveniently encapsulated here.
Symptoms Of Tapeworms In Cats
There are a number of symptoms to watch out for when it comes to tapeworms in cats. The first is to check your cats faeces. If they have small white grains in them, its likely your cat has the parasite. These small pieces will be cream in colour and around the size of a grain of rice.
If your cat is regularly licking their anus it could mean they have tapeworms. Similarly, biting or scratching at this area may be a sign. Cats also tend to drag their hind legs across the floor in order to scratch the area if you see your cat doing this, they may have contracted the parasite.
Tapeworms can also cause cats to lose weight. This weight loss may occur even though your cats appetite has increased. The final sign to look at for is the condition of your cats coat. If your cat has a tapeworm, their coat could become a lot more dull or shabby than usual.
If you notice any of these signs its important to take your cat to see your vet as soon as possible. If noticed early, tapeworms are easy to treat and get rid of.
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What Types Of Worms Can Cats Pass To Humans
Although there are several types of worms that affect cats, there are only some of them that typically affect humans. Only intestinal parasites post any inherent risk to humans, which means that you dont have to worry about getting heartworms from your cat.
The reason why intestinal worms can infect humans is that they are passed through a cats feces. Since humans are responsible for cleaning the litter box, they are more likely to come into contact with them. But not all types of intestinal worms pose the same risk for humans.
Roundworms and hookworms are the most common types of worms that humans can get from cats, but the method of transmission for the two is different. For example, roundworms usually have to be ingested. Of course, this would be accidental ingestion, but it usually happens as a result of not washing your hands after cleaning the litter box or cleaning up your cats vomit and then preparing food. It sounds gross, but it can happen.
Although hookworms tend to affect mostly the intestines of cats, they can affect the skin of humans. They do this by hooking onto your skin when cleaning the litter box or walking somewhere where your cat has thrown up or used the bathroom. Once they have attached to your skin, they can enter your body through your bloodstream and infect your intestines as well.