Intestinal Parasites in Cats

Parasites in cats may be either internal or external. Internal parasites in cats typically lodge in the large or small intestine, but there are also some parasites that may reside in the respiratory tract or the heart. The intestinal parasites are easy to detect, as an infected cat will show some clear symptoms. The most common feline intestine parasites include tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, stomach worms and several microscopic parasites such as Coccidia, Giardia or Strongyloides.

Intestinal Parasite Transmission

The intestinal parasites may be contracted through the ingestion of eggs or larvae that may be present in infested water or feces. These eggs and larvae may also be present in yards or grass and can survive in wet environments such as soil for a few weeks to a few months.

Intestinal parasites may also be transmitted from an infected mother to the kittens; this is why a deworming cure is necessary if the cat is pregnant.  

Parasites can also be acquired if the cat eats a rodent or a rabbit that is a carrier of certain parasites. The ingestion of fleas may lead to tapeworm infestation.

Roundworms, hookworms and giardia can be transmitted to humans also.

Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites are typically easy to detect, as there will be a lot of symptoms present:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Black, tarry stool
  • Dehydration
  • Lack of appetite; however, some parasites such as the tapeworm will cause an increased appetite
  • Anemia
  • Skin rashes
  • Worms or worm segments present in the feces

Intestinal parasites may not be serious in most felines; however, in kittens they may be fatal if severe dehydration and anemia occur.

Diagnosing Parasites in Cats

Intestinal parasites in cats can be detected through an examination of a feces sample, which typically contains eggs or larvae. In some cases, if the vet suspects anemia, blood tests will also be performed.

Treatment Options

The treatment for intestinal parasites in felines will include a deworming cure. A routine deworming is recommended in all kittens even if they appear not to have parasites. Depending on the parasite and its life cycle, the cat will need a dewormer pill or several.

In a multi-cat household, if one cat is infected, all the cats should get treatment. If the cat is severely dehydrated, fluid therapy will also be administered. In cases of anemia, the cat will receive blood transfusions.

Preventive Measures

Intestinal parasites can be transmitted through the ingestion of eggs or larvae; these can be present in infested water or soil. If your cat has been infected with worms, you should thoroughly clean the home and the yard with bleach to kill all the eggs and larvae. You should also repeat the deworming cure after 2 weeks to prevent a re-infestation.

Kittens should receive dewormers on a regular basis.

If your pet has been affected by intestinal parasites, you should get tested too. Children can easily get the worms, as they fail to wash their hands and can ingest the eggs and larvae.