Cat Tapeworm Origins

Cat tapeworm parasites live in the intestines of an infected cat, and can eventually begin to break off in the cat's intestines and be passed in the stool. The sources of cat tapeworms are many, but one of the most common origins is the flea. To learn more about tapeworms in cats, read on.

How Does a Cat Get Tapeworms?

The most common way for a cat to get tapeworms is from fleas. The tapeworm needs the presence of fleas in order to complete its life cycle, and a cat must ingest a flea to become infected with tapeworm parasites. As a result of this, tapeworms are common in areas that are heavily populated with fleas. Lice can also be hosts to the tapeworm, although they rarely affect cats.

When a cat ingests tapeworm eggs from flea larvae, he can become infected with tapeworms. Often the sources of flea larvae are dirty carpets, floors, or bedding. When the cat licks himself after a flea bites and then swallows the flea, the flea travels to the intestines of the cat, where the tapeworm hatches in the intestinal lining.

What Are the Signs of Tapeworms in Cats?

Very often, a cat will show very few clinical signs of having tapeworms. If the tapeworms are present in large numbers, a cat may show the following signs:

  • Weight loss
  • Debilitation
  • Scooting anus across floor because of anal irritation
  • Vomiting adult tapeworms several inches long

Remember that usually the cat will not show any symptoms of having tapeworms unless the tapeworms are present in very large numbers. Usually, the detection of tapeworms is seen through the presence of tapeworms in the feces of the cat.

Diagnosing Tapeworms in Cats

When you notice any signs of tapeworms or see tapeworms in your cat's feces, it should be brought to the attention of a veterinarian. Tapeworm proglottid segments are about the size of grains of rice, and can be seen crawling in the stool of the cat. They are a yellow to golden color, and harden after being released.

Treatment for Tapeworms in Cats

A deworming medication, called an anthelmintic, is usually given in tablet form or as an injection. After this treatment, the tapeworm parasites die off and become digested in the intestine. There are rarely any side-effects of the deworming medication.

Preventing Tapeworms

The best way to prevent tapeworms is to prevent the presence of fleas. There are several new products designed to prevent fleas, and they can be used in either the home or yard. Contact a veterinarian for information on flea control products and how to use them.

If your cat comes in contact with an environment infested with fleas, tapeworms can re-infest themselves soon after the cat has been treated. Because of this, it is advised that you do the following to prevent reinfection of tapeworms:

  • Rapid treatment when the detection of tapeworms are presented
  • Appropriately dispose of pet feces in playgrounds, the yard or public places such as the park
  • Practicing good hygiene for children who play outdoors