There are many different kinds of worms in cats. Knowing their characteristics, how they affect your cat and how to prevent them will help you properly identify and treat them. Although these worms can be easily treated, they can also be harmful to people. Treatment and prevention of worms is a necessary action for the health of your cat.
Tapeworms are flat long worms that measure from 15 to 60 cm in length and attach themselves to your cats intestines. They consist of a head and many segments all with its own reproductive organs. Their appearance is similar to rice or seeds and is usually seen near the rear end of your cat, in your cats feces, or where they sleep. If your cats are infected with tapeworms they may experience vomiting and diarrhea. Tapeworms intermediate host is the flea but your cats can also get tapeworms from eating rodents.
Roundworms are the most common worm that cats get. They live in the intestines of infected cats. Most cats will get roundworms sometime in their lives showing little or no symptoms. Roundworms are common in summer, fall and winter. Adult roundworms are light brown or white and are several inches long. They can be seen in a cat's vomit and stool. If infected with roundworms, your cat may experience weight loss or a "pot belly" appearance. Cats can get roundworms if they eat worm eggs from the soil in the environment or if they eat an animal such as a rodent that has worms. Kittens can become infected through nursing, if the mother cat was infected in pregnancy.
Hookworms are common in the summer months. They have a hook-like mouth that attaches to the walls of the small intestines and they feed on blood. Hookworms are passed through cat feces. The larvae live in the soil and penetrates through your cats skin usually through the belly or feet. They may also get hookworms when grooming themselves, if the larvae is on their body. Hookworms can cause diarrhea, weight loss, internal bleeding and possibly death in kittens.
Whipworms are rare in cats. These worms can be found in the large intestines and cecum feeding on blood. The adult worm is shaped like a whip with the head of the worm thin and the end of the worm thick. They are transmitted through eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with worm eggs. Once the egg is ingested in three months it will develop into adult worms. The adult worms lay eggs that are passed in the cats feces. Symptoms that your cat may be experiencing resulting from whipworms are dehydration, weight loss, anemia or bloody diarrhea.
For a proper diagnosis of the type of worm your cat has, a stool sample should be taken to your veterinarian's office. They will treat your cat according to what they find. It is recommended that kittens get dewormed at 2, 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age, then monthly until 6 months. Fecal exams should be done twice a year, regularly for outdoor cats. These are the common medicines that are used for deworming in cats.
- Revolution - treats roundworms and hookworms
- Drontal Plus Tablets - treats roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms
- Nemex - treats roundworms and hookworms
- Droncit - treats tapeworms only
- Panacur - treats roundworms, whipworms, hookworms and some types of tapeworms
Over the counter deworming medication do not completely kill off worms. If you notice that your cat is suffering from worms call and make a appointment with your veterinarian.