Tapeworms are one of the most common types of parasites that can affect cats. These intestinal worms live in the small intestine and feed on the nutrients in your cat's food. While they are generally not life-threatening, tapeworms can cause discomfort, irritation, and other health problems for your feline friend. This article will discuss the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of tapeworms in cats.
How Can You Tell if Your Cat Has Tapeworms?
When tapeworms grow, their body pieces break into parts and pass into your cat's intestines. As a result, you may see dried, white or cream-colored tapeworm segments in your cat's feces, or you may find them stuck to the fur under your cat's tail.
Some species will split into tiny segments, while the segments of other tapeworm species will resemble cucumber or sesame seeds in appearance and size.
If a tapeworm travels into the cat's stomach, and the cat vomits the worm, it may come as a large and moving segment.
Cats may lick or bite their anus or drag their hindquarters on the floor. Remember that there might not be any symptoms for tapeworm, and contrary to popular belief, hardly a cause of weight loss in cats.
You should take your cat immediately if you notice tapeworms. A fecal sample can be used to diagnose tapeworms. If you see any worms, bringing it to the vet for diagnosis is always helpful. Then, you can put it in a plastic bag or jar.
Other symptoms of tapeworms in cats may include:
- Weight loss
- Itchy skin or fur
- Poor coat condition
If you notice these symptoms in your cat, you must take them to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment.
How Do Cats Get Tapeworms?
Cats can become infected with tapeworms when they ingest fleas carrying tapeworm eggs. When a flea bites an infected animal, it can ingest tapeworm eggs along with their blood. These eggs then develop into larvae inside the flea's body. When your cat ingests the infected flea while grooming, the tapeworm larvae are released into your cat's digestive system, where they can mature into adult tapeworms.
Cats can also become infected with tapeworms by ingesting small rodents or other animals infected with tapeworms. This is less common, but it is still possible.
How to Treat Tapeworms in Cats
If your cat has been diagnosed with tapeworms, your veterinarian will likely prescribe a medication to kill the adult worms in their intestines. Some common medicines used to treat tapeworms in cats include praziquantel and epsiprantel. These medications are typically given orally and can be in the form of tablets, capsules, or injections.
It's important to note that these medications only kill the adult tapeworms, not the tapeworm eggs. To ensure your cat is entirely free of tapeworms, it's important to treat them for fleas. Your veterinarian may recommend a flea preventative medication or a flea shampoo that will kill any fleas on your cat's body.
How to Prevent Tapeworms (and the Fleas That Cause Them)
Preventing tapeworms in cats starts with preventing fleas. Regularly grooming your cat with a flea comb and washing their bedding can help to reduce the number of fleas on their body. It's also important to vacuum your home regularly to remove flea eggs or larvae hiding in carpets or other surfaces.
Various flea-preventative medications are available for cats, including topical spot-on treatments, flea collars, and oral medications. Talk to your veterinarian about which flea preventative is suitable for your cat.
In addition to flea prevention, it's important to practice good hygiene when handling your cat's food and litter box. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling these items to prevent the spread of tapeworm eggs or other parasites.
Tapeworms can be an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience for your cat. However, knowing the symptoms, treatment, and prevention of tapeworms in cats can help keep your feline friend healthy.