Cat Roundworm Removal with Pyrantel

There are many species of roundworm, but only two affect domesticated housecats: Toxocara cati and Toxascaris Leonina. While T. leonina can infect both dogs and cats, T. cati only infects cats, and is usually a more serious problem. In their mature stage, these roundworms reside in the intestines and consume nutrients that the cat has eaten.

They can cause diarrhea and vomiting in kittens, and in extreme cases can even block the intestinal tract, but roundworms are usually not a life threatening condition. It is important to note that these worms can also infect humans, in which case the parasite can be a serious health risk, so it is important to keep away from the feces of infected animals, and do not allow your infected cat to defecate in environmental soil, as the worms are spread through feces.

How Do Roundworms Infect a Cat?

Mature roundworms produce tiny eggs, which can lay dormant in soil for years. These eggs are spread into the environment through the animal's feces. Other cats can become infected when they consume the eggs from the soil, or they eat a small animal that has been infected from the soil. Nursing cats can also spread roundworms to their kittens through milk.

The Roundworm Lifecycle

After the eggs of T. cati have been ingested, they hatch into larvae in the small intestine. These tiny larvae burrow through the intestinal wall and encyst in the bloodstream. If the infected animal is not a cat, the encysted larvae can lay dormant until a cat eats their host, but if the host is already a cat, the larvae burrow towards the lungs.

They burrow through the bottom of the lungs, and emerge out the windpipe, but before the cat has a chance to cough them out, they force their way back down the esophagus. Once back in the digestive system, the larvae return to the small intestine and mature into adults, which can produce more eggs and grow to seven inches long. T. leonina does not make this trip through the body, and simply lives its whole life inside the intestines.

Roundworm Treatment with Pyrantel

Pyrantel pamoate, along with all other kinds of de-worming medications, can flush the worms out of the intestines, and the worms exit the body during defecation. It works by making the worm relax its grip on the intestinal wall, allowing it to pass with the stool. It is important to note that Pyrantel only affects worms in the intestine, and does nothing to remove worms encysted in other parts of the cat's body, so multiple treatments with Pyrantel are necessary to give the encysted worms time to migrate back to the intestine to be removed. Follow-up de-worming treatments should be given approximately two weeks after the initial treatment.

Roundworms are a disgusting and uncomfortable parasite that, while not usually fatally dangerous in cats, can cause serious problems in kittens. Make sure not to forget follow-up treatments, because an infection can spring back very easily from encysted larvae.