Are Worms In Cats Dangerous
Worms are found in the digestive systems of many animals naturally. As long as they are in small numbers, they dont cause harm. When the parasite load becomes excessive, they can cause health and nutritional problems for the hostyour cat.
This can be serious in any cat, but its more significant in kittens who are in development. Worms can steal vital nutrients, leading to stunted growth, dehydration, anemia, and malnutrition. This can also happen with worms that feed on blood, leading to severe anemia.
Worms may not only rob your cat of vital nutrients directly, from feeding off the food in the digestive tract but indirectly through symptoms like diarrhea and vomiting. Essentially, its like your cat is starving, despite plenty of healthy food.
Can The Symptoms Be Caused By Something Else
Though these symptoms are signs of a worm infestation, they can be related to many other health problems. Diarrhea, for example, could be caused by something as innocuous as food that didnt agree with your cat or as serious as toxicity from chemicals or poisonous plants. Other potential causes include bacteria, viruses, food intolerances, and allergies.
Its important to take your cat to the vet for any prolonged symptoms. An occasional bout of diarrhea or vomiting may be nothing to worry about, but if it continues, it warrants a vet visit. This is also true of other symptoms, such as fatigue or inappetence, which could be an off day or could indicate something more insidious.
How To Check For Worms In Cats
If you pick up on signs of worms in your cat, you may want to check them for worms. However, diagnosing a cat with worms can be tricky since the symptoms of worms in cats arent always visible. Luckily, vets have several tests that they conduct in order to determine the presence of worms in your cat. In addition to assessing any visible symptoms, vets may conduct the following tests during the diagnostic process:
- Fecal floats: Vets can mix your cats feces with a specialized solution that makes worms eggs float to the surface and then examine the sample under a microscope.
- ELISA tests: An enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test measures antibodies in the blood and can be used to detect the presence of parasitic worms in your cat.
- PCR tests: A polymerase chain reaction test is a tool used to determine whether the genetic materials of certain parasitic worms are present in your cat.
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How Do I Prevent My Cat From Getting Roundworms
Because roundworms can enter your cat’s body in many different ways, it is essential to keep your cat’s living area clean and, if possible, keep your cat indoors to prevent it from eating wild animals that may carry roundworms.
Kittens should be treated for roundworms every 2 weeks between three and nine weeks of age and then receive a preventive treatment monthly. Fecal examinations should be conducted 2 to 4 times during the first year of life and 1 or 2 times each year in adults. Nursing mothers should be kept on monthly preventive and treated along with their kittens. A monthly parasite control product effective against roundworms is recommended to treat potential new infections. Many heartworm medications also control roundworms so ask your veterinarian about prevention and treatment choices.
Can Humans Get Worms From Their Cats
Feline roundworms can pose a risk to human health. Contact with cat faeces or contaminated soil can result in human ingestion and infection. Children should not be allowed to play where cats pass faeces and childrens sand pits should be covered when they are not in use to avoid cats defecating in them. It is also advised that gardeners wear gloves to avoid contamination and litter boxes are cleaned out every day.
Worming your cat is simple, and following a regular cat worming programme will not only help keep your cat healthy but also helps prevent human infections too!
Next, find out more about other parasites in cats, including cat ticks and what you can do to keep them at bay.
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How To Check Cats For Worms
This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 43 testimonials and 94% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 1,335,126 times.
What Are The Signs Of Heartworm Disease In Cats
Signs of heartworm disease in cats can be very subtle or very dramatic. Symptoms may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, periodic vomiting, lack of appetite, or weight loss. Occasionally an affected cat may have difficulty walking, experience fainting or seizures, or suffer from fluid accumulation in the abdomen. Unfortunately, the first sign in some cases is sudden collapse of the cat, or sudden death.
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What Causes Worms In Cats
Before we talk about home remedies for cat parasites, lets learn more about the different types of worms in cats and how cats get infected. Thats going to help you prevent a second infestation once you deal with the imminent crisis.
So, cats often get infected with:
Roundworms are the most common parasites in cats, and they are responsible for almost 75% of all worm infestations. Often kittens get roundworms from their mother when the mother cat hasnt been dewormed properly before the birth.
Roundworms are 3-5 inches long, and they live in your cats intestines. As such, these worms steal your cats nutrients so that no matter how much your cat eats, she doesnt put on weight. In addition to this, roundworms are highly contagious because your cat sheds infected eggs with her stool and could lead to intestinal blockage.
Tapeworms resemble a ribbon or a tape, and they are made of segments that break off when the worm matures. These segments are shed in the feces and look like grains of rice. Cats get tapeworms when they eat a host infected with tapeworm eggs such as a flea or a rodent.
Hookworms, as the name suggests, attach themselves to your cats intestines and feed off her blood. Since the larvae live in the soil, your cat might swallow it easily when she digs outside. Hookworm infestation is very serious since it might lead to anemia.
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Is There Anything Else That I Should Do
Flea control is the cornerstone of the management and prevention of tapeworm infection. Flea control products are convenient to use. Depending on the type of product you use and the presence of other pets in your home, you may also need to treat your house and yard for fleas . With some of the newer products, environmental flea control may not be needed. Circumstances vary however, so be sure to talk to your veterinarian.
“Flea control is the cornerstone of preventing tapeworm infection.”
If the cat lives in a flea-infested environment, tapeworm infection can become re-established within a few weeks. This is very rarely due to treatment failure in most cases, reappearance of tapeworm segments represents a re-infection of the cat. Additional recommendations include:
1. Promptly have your cat treated when tapeworms are detected.
2. Remove and dispose of all pet feces properly, especially in public parks, yards, or playgrounds.
3. Teach and practice strict hygiene practices for children after playing outdoors.
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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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What Is The Treatment For Tapeworms In Cats
Luckily, treatment for cat tapeworms is pretty easy and effective. 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. Since the worm has been digested, you shouldn’t expect to see evidence of it in the litter box. The deworming medication should not cause your cat any adverse side effects, like vomiting or diarrhea.
The best-case scenario is to keep your cat from getting infected in the first place. You can greatly reduce your cat’s risk of ever getting tapeworms by using flea control treatments regularly and keeping your cat inside. Tapeworms are not contagious, like a cold, per se, but they are transmittable through fleas from animal to animal and in rare cases to humans. Just like your cat, if your dog eats an infected flea while chewing his skin, he can get tapeworms. If you or your child accidentally ingests a flea, you could get tapeworm, too.
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How To Prevent Your Cat From Getting Tapeworms
So what do we do about these disgusting parasites? The best thing to do overall is to prevent kitty from becoming infestedwhich means using a high-quality prescription flea and tick medicine every single month, whether kitty goes outside or not, since fleas can hitchhike into the house on humans and clothing.
There are many good flea products on the market, but not all are safe for cats, so be sure to ask your veterinarian what is appropriate for your pet. Common flea medicine for cats includes Revolution, Advantage II, Vectra and Frontline. These are best used year-round, even in cold climates.
Another important step in preventing tapeworms is to keep your cat from hunting. Keeping cats inside the house and maintaining appropriate rodent control will help make sure that your kitty doesnt have an unauthorized rodent snack that brings the parasite along with it.
What Cats Are At Risk For Roundworms
The cats who are most at risk for roundworms are kittens and cats who hunt, but any cat can get roundworms from an owners shoe or by playing with bugs that drag their bellies on the ground and pick up the eggs, Dr. Taylor says. Outdoor cats get them from contaminated soil, hunting or playing with bugs.
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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.
Everything You Need To Know About Worms In Cats
Written bySmall Door’s medical experts
Discovering your cat has worms can be shocking and upsetting. Whether theyre external or internal, these parasites can wreak havoc on your cats health. But with proper diagnosis and treatment, worms in cats can be effectively treated and eliminated.
In This Article
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Learning About The Causes
As discussed under each individual worm, the parasites can be caught from the environment via contact with infected feces or through other creatures like fleas or wild animals. In the case of roundworms and hookworms, they can even be caught from an infected mother passing them on to her kittens.
Home remedies are not advised for worm prevention or treatment. You should always use a veterinary product and avoid ineffective herbal or natural worming products.
Signs Your Cat Might Have Worms
Intestinal parasites are most common in outdoor cats and kittens that grew up in unsanitary conditions. They are rarely found in indoor cats. However, regardless of your pets living situation, you should keep an eye out for these signs to help you tell if your cat has worms:
- Vomiting and diarrhea: Whether caused by worms or another problem, these symptoms are a sign of digestive distress and warrant a trip to the vet.
- Mucus or worm segments in your pets stool: The intestines often secrete mucus as a defense mechanism against a parasitic invasion, making your pets stool slimy. Tapeworm segments may also break apart and end up in your pets stool.
- Lethargy and fatigue: These are possible symptoms of anemia and malnutrition.
- Dry skin and dull coat: The skin and fur are the first to suffer from nutritional deficiencies if your cat has worms.
- Odd appetite: Watch for sudden hunger caused by malnutrition refusal to eat or drink because of an upset stomach and rapid weight loss despite eating normally.
- Potbelly: Kittens, in particular, may develop a potbelly in response to intestinal parasites.
Not sure if your cat has worms? If youre in the Frederick County, MD area, contact Village Vet of Urbana to schedule a diagnostic appointment.
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Can Cats Get Worms From Dogs
Yes, cats can pick up infected eggs from dog poop, as not all roundworms and hookworms are species-specific. Ancylostoma braziliense hookworm can affect both dogs and cats, as well as Toxascaris leonina roundworm.
Cats can also get tapeworms via the flea on dogs if they are living in an infested home or yard. If a flea from a dog jumps onto a cat and gets ingested, there is the potential for a tapeworm infestation to develop.
The most common types of worms in cats are:
There are also a number of less commonly diagnosed worms in cats that can cause serious health problems and can even be fatal, including:
Severe infestations of liver flukes may cause:
Swelling of the liver
What If My Cat Tests Positive For Heartworms
Like dogs, cats can be infected with heartworms. There are differences, however, in the nature of the disease and how it is diagnosed and managed. Because a cat is not an ideal host for heartworms, some infections resolve on their own, although these infections can leave cats with respiratory system damage. Heartworms in the circulatory system also affect the cats immune system and cause symptoms such as coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. Heartworms in cats may even migrate to other parts of the body, such as the brain, eye and spinal cord. Severe complications such as blood clots in the lungs and lung inflammation can result when the adult worms die in the cats body.
Heres what to expect if your cat tests positive for heartworm:
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How To Prevent My Cat From Getting Worms
Cats are prone to getting worms due to a variety of reasons. However, you can always have some preventive measures in place. These small steps will help you assure better safety for your cats against worms.
- Make sure your cat stays indoors. This will prevent them from coming in contact with the feces of other cats or dogs or rodents, fleas and birds. These are the primary carrier for the worms that infects the cats.
- Keep the home, lawn and surrounding area clean. It is quite difficult to make your cat stay indoors at all times. This is the reason that you must keep these areas clean as your cat can get worms from these places too while roaming around.
- Always use preventive measures like wearing gloves while cleaning the litter. Make the cat practice good hygiene as well.
- Make sure you visit the vet at regular intervals. Do not try to treat your cat by yourself at all times.
Worms in cats are quite common. However, it is preventive as well. Gaining information is the first step towards guaranteeing your cat a safer life.
Could Your Cat Have Worms
Are you concerned that your cat may have worms? Worms are very common in cats. The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine has discovered that 45% of cats have an intestinal parasite of some sort at any given moment. If that statistic isnt disturbing enough, its quite possible that If your cat does have worms, you are at risk too.
As many as 75% of all worms found in cats are roundworms. A cat can get roundworms when they eat feces that has eggs from roundworms. Catching and eating a mouse or another rodent that has roundworms is another way that cats can get roundworms. If a mother cat is infected with roundworms, she may pass it onto her kittens through her milk, and to you when you clean the litter.
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Can An Indoor Cat Get Intestinal Worms
Yes, just because your cat never leaves the house doesnt mean that other members of your family arent coming in and out and unintentionally bringing nasties back with them. Worm eggs are microscopic and can easily attach to clothing and shoes so make sure to remove or clean them before heading inside.