Hookworm Symptoms in Cats

Hookworm is one of the most frequently occurring parasites among household pets. Although there are several varieties of hookworms, they each bring about similar symptoms and affect your cat's body in comparable ways. Most cats are vaccinated against hookworm infections at a young age, although the high occurrence of hookworm in cats all over the world indicates that the condition is widespread and may be difficult to prevent.

How Do Hookworms Affect Your Cat?

Hookworms are parasites, organisms that attach themselves to a host organism and utilize that host for sustenance. Specifically, hookworms "hook" into a cat's intestinal wall and nourish themselves with blood from the intestine and surrounding tissues.

Hookworms themselves are not as bad as the effects that they may cause. As a hookworm feeds off of a cat's blood, it injects the surrounding tissue with an anti-coagulant agent that prevents clotting. If a hookworm dislodges from the intestinal wall, the wound may continue to bleed, causing damage and internal bleeding.

Symptoms of Hookworm Infections

Some of the most common signs that your cat has a hookworm infection include:

  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Blood in stool
  • Decline in coat, skin and gum quality
  • Lethargy and weakness

Symptoms tend to be worse in younger cats, where the effects of anemia may be more severe. Kittens with hookworm may have retarded physical development, and should be treated as soon as possible.

Transmission of Hookworms

Hookworms are transmitted through ingestion of eggs and larvae. Larvae are typically passed through stool. Hookworms are often passed from one animal to another when a cat consumes food tainted with another animal's stool. Reduce the likelihood of transmission by keeping an infected animal isolated from other pets, and by ensuring that your pet's eating area is kept clean and separate from the litter box.

Treatments for Hookworm Infections

One of the most effective ways to reduce hookworm infections in your cat is to prevent against them adequately. Hookworm vaccines are available at your veterinarian's office, and it's also wise to have your cat checked for signs of parasites once a year. This inspection will consist of a physical exam and stool sample.

If you suspect that your cat has hookworms, take him to a vet for diagnosis. Treatment for hookworms is simple and usually requires a 2 to 3 week drug regimen and plenty of rest. Due to the ease of transmission of hookworms between cats, your veterinarian may recommend keeping uninfected cats in a separate location from an infected pet.

Hookworm may become a chronic, painful and damaging condition if not identified quickly and treated accurately. Watch your pet for any signs of hookworm infection, and react promptly if you observe any of them. This will help to keep your pet healthy and lively for years to come.