Cat Hookworm Infections

Hookworms are intestinal parasites that live in the digestive tract of cats. Although there are different types of hookworms, the most common type that affects cats, is known as A. tubaeforme. Hookworm infections have to be treated promptly as they cause anemia and diarrhea.

Description of Feline Hookworms

Hookworms are nearly half-inch long parasites that have cutting plates or teeth like structures to attach themselves to the wall of the pet's small intestine. Once attached, the hookworm sucks on blood and takes away essential nutrients from the cat's body. Adult hookworms are capable of reproduction and lay eggs that pass through cat feces. Hookworm eggs are known to survive in the environment and form hookworm larvae that thrive in the soil and water outdoors.

How Cats Become Infected with Hookworms

Cats contract hookworm infection by ingesting contaminated soil or water. Hookworm larvae can also penetrate the animal's skin and enter the body. Fleas and rodents are also carriers of several diseases and cats that ingest infected fleas contract hookworm infection. Kittens are capable of acquiring hookworm infections in the uterus or through the mothers (queen) milk as hookworm infection pass to the mammary glands.

Symptoms of Feline Hookworms

  • Cough
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dark feces
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale appearance
  • Anemia
  • Blood in the stool
  • Hookworm Life Cycle

Adult female hookworms that exist in the cat's small intestine produce hookworm eggs that pass through the cat's digestive tract and get mixed with cat feces. Once the eggs are released in the environment they hatch and develop into hookworm larvae. Hookworm larvae pass through 3 stages before they become capable of infecting hosts or pets. Hookworm larvae may not develop into adult hookworms in all pets as some larvae lay dormant for sometime before migrating to the cat's intestine.

Treatment of Feline Hookworms

Hookworms can be treated with prescription hookworm medication such as antihelminthic drugs. Kittens should also be given de-worming medication as early as 3 weeks of age. Since hookworm larvae are known to exist in the environment for prolonged periods, it's important to disinfect the home and surroundings with pet friendly solutions.

Commercial Worming Medication

  • Revolution for cats
  • Drontal
  • Cestex
  • Interceptor for cats

Safeguarding Pets

It's necessary to read and follow package instructions before administering any medication to pets. The side effects of worming medication are temporary and include vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. If the side effects persist, it's necessary to seek medical help. Hookworm medication that's manufactured for use in dogs shouldn't be used on cats as the potency of the drug differs. Along with proper medication, hygienic surroundings help control re-infection. Infected pets should also be kept away from other pets living in the same household. Pet owners should follow appropriate feces disposal methods and change cat litter frequently to prevent parasite and urinary tract infections.

Several commercial drugs are monthly preventive treatments that control roundworms and heartworms alongside hookworm infections. It's also best to conduct fecal exams twice a year to detect intestinal parasites in pets.