A hookworm is small parasite, but is visible, growing up to half an inch in length. Hookworms thrive in humid, warm environments.
There are several sources of cat hookworm infections, and avoiding these can prevent the infection.
1. Food and Water
The ingestion of food and water that is contaminated with hookworm larvae may infect a cat. A healthy cat ingests the larvae and these migrate to the intestine, where they mature and lay eggs.
Make sure to change the cat's water on a daily basis and in case you prepare homemade food for your cat, check the source of the meat and the other ingredients.
2. Cat Feces
Hookworm larvae may be eliminated through cat feces. If a pet ingests feces, he will get infected.
Keep your cat away from feces as much as possible, and groom him on a regular basis to make sure that feces are not stuck in his fur. Cats groom themselves by licking their fur, and can ingest residues that may contain hookworm larvae.
3. Soil and Sand
Hookworm larvae can exist in soil and sand; cats may defecate in the garden or yard, and this soil can keep the larvae alive for a long time. Hookworm larvae can survive in warm and moist environments, and soil is a favorable place.
4. Cat Litter
The cat can shed hookworm larvae in the feces. Be careful where you deposit the cat litter, as this is also a favorable environment where hookworms may thrive.
If you have several cats in your home and one of them is infected, keep his litter box isolated from the others.
5. From Mother to Kitten
Hookworms can be transmitted to kittens from their mother via the placenta.
Cat milk can also infect the newborn kittens. The hookworms can migrate to other tissues of the body, other than the intestine, and may be present in the mammary glands.
Hookworms have hundreds of eggs that may be eliminated in the feces. The eggs transform into larvae in 2 to 5 days, and these can infect healthy cats.
Hookworms can be contracted through ingestion or penetration. If the hookworm larvae come into contact with the cat's skin, they can enter the blood flow and migrate towards the small intestine.
Hookworm symptoms include:
- Black and bloody stools
- Pale gums
- Unhealthy looking skin
Hookworms can be easily eliminated with medication.
Hookworms can be transmitted to humans through penetration from infected cats or at the beach, if the sand contains infected feces. However, hookworm larvae are not able to mature in the human body, and may only cause itchy skin eruptions.