Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites in Cats

Intestinal parasites in cats are frequent and they may be microscopic or larger. They will feed on the cat’s nutrients and will lodge in the gastrointestinal tract. Some of the most common intestinal parasites include the tapeworm, the roundworms, the hookworms, stomach worms or microscopic parasites such as the Coccidia or Giardia.

Types of Intestinal Parasites

The most common intestinal parasites that affect felines include:

  • Roundworms (several Toxocara species)
  • Hookworms (can be of several types including Ancylostoma tubaeforme, Ancylostoma braziliense and Uncinaria stenocephala)
  • Physaloptera stomach worms
  • Tapeworms (Taenia taeniaeformis)
  • Microscopic intestinal parasites (Coccidia, Giardia or Strongyloides)

Symptoms of Intestinal Parasites in Felines

The symptoms of intestinal parasites in cats will be similar in all types of parasites. The cat will display some tell tale signs such as:

  • Vomiting, sometimes vomiting worms or worm segments
  • Diarrhea
  • Worms or worm segments (tapeworms) in the feces
  • Tarry stools
  • Segments of tapeworms in the anal area (look like white rice)
  • Dehydration due to frequent vomiting and diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite (however if the cat is affected by tapeworms, his appetite will not decrease)
  • Lethargy
  • Anemia
  • Skin lesions
  • Lack of activity
  • Irritation
  • Hiding behavior

Typically parasites will not be fatal, but may cause severe complications in young kittens and immunocompromised cats.

Transmission of Intestinal Parasites

The intestinal parasites can be transmitted through several methods. Most frequently, the cat gets infected with parasites by ingesting parasites eggs. These eggs or larvae may be present in the feces of infected felines, but may also be found in soil or sand that has been contaminated with feces.

Kittens may get infected with intestinal parasites at birth, if the mother carries the parasites. The most frequent intestinal parasite that is present in kittens is the roundworm. The roundworm may not manifest in the mother, as it may be encysted and inactive, but the kitten will get infected.

Another way to acquire intestinal parasites is through ingestion of fleas, which can be carriers of tapeworm larvae. 

Treatment of Intestinal Parasites

The intestinal parasites will be detected using fecal examinations and possibly a few blood tests.

The treatment of intestinal parasites is easy and consists of dewormers. It is important to determine if the cat is not severely dehydrated, as this may be fatal. Dehydration is common in cats with intestinal parasites, as the cat will vomit and have diarrhea.

If the cat is affected by the tapeworm, the cat may also be anemic, as the tapeworm will feed on the cat’s nutrients.

If the cat is dehydrated or anemic, he should receive some intravenous fluids.

Your cat can also receive preventive dewormers, to prevent future infections with intestinal parasites.

Zoonotic Diseases

It is important to note that some of these parasites can infect humans as well; watch out for roundworms or hookworms, which can be transmitted from cats to humans.