Cat Roundworm Treatment and Prevention

Cat roundworm is the most common parasite to infect the feline digestive tract. Recognizing the symptoms of roundworm in your cat will make treatment easier and more efficient if the problem can be addressed early. Prevention is also important for roundworm infections, whether it's preventing the parasite from spreading to other pets or avoiding future cases of parasitic infections.

Roundworm Infests Digestive Tract

Roundworm is a parasite that infects the digestive tracts of animals like dogs, cats, foxes and wild animals. There are two types of roundworm that can affect cats, Toxascaris leonina and Toxocara cati. Cats become infected with roundworms by ingesting infective worm eggs found in contaminated water, soil, food, vomit, feces or an infected rodents, birds or insects. The eggs must be present in their environment for at least three days to become infective but can remain infective for a long period of time. The worms will live in the cat's intestines and absorb nutrients from food the cat eats causing damage to the lining of the intestines and interfering with digestion. Roundworm can also be passed from nursing mothers to kittens.

Symptoms of Roundworm in Your Cat

Signs of roundworm to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Swelling of the abdomen
  • Stunted growth in kittens
  • Abnormal feces
  • Pale gums
  • Coughing
  • A dull, unhealthy coat

Roundworms can often be seen in vomit and feces of infected cats or kittens. The parasite can be between 3 to 7 inches long and looks like spaghetti.

Treatment Options for Roundworm

A dewormer is an efficient method for treating cats with parasites but usually need to be repeated 2 to 4 weeks after the initial deworming in order to be effective. Dewormers, also called anthelmintics, are usually given to kittens at approximately 3 to 6 weeks of age, then given two more times in the following four weeks. In adult cats, the frequency of deworming depends on the cat's lifestyle, time spent outdoors and medical history.

Preventing Roundworm and Other Parasites

Roundworm and other parasites like feline tape worm and ringworm can be prevented by maintaining a clean environment to stop the spread of infection through contact with contaminated rodents, water, feces or vomit. Isolation is also important once a cat is infected. His litter box should be kept separate from other animals and the cat should be kept indoors to avoid contact with rodents, mice and insects or excrement.

If your cat is an outdoor pet owners should deworm their pets frequently and try to supervise their cat to avoid any contact with feces, infected pests or contaminated water.

Heartworm and flea control medications including Revolution and Advantage can also prevent roundworm as well as heartworm and fleas. These medications should be given once a month at all times of year.