They can be found everywhere: in the grass, sand, fish and meat, fruits and vegetables, in the water and even in the air. If you inspect the nearest flower bed under a microscope – insomnia for at least one night is guaranteed. Worms in cats, even in those living indoors, eating high quality dry feed and never walking outdoors – is a usual thing. And what about cats having regular walks?
Many parasitic worms in cats are transmitted to humans. Getting into human bodies certain types of helminthes may grow to several meters in length! Just imagine: a disgusting worm, wriggling, sticking into the body with its hooks, suckers or spines, consuming blood and organ tissue – scary? Then it's time to learn how to get rid of worms in cats and how to protect your pet from awful parasites.
Ways of infection
Cats may ingest worm eggs when eating raw fish or meat. Hunting cats may eat their prey with eggs. Additionally, cats may swallow the parasite, sipping water from rivers or puddles. Many types of worms in cats are transmitted through feces. When licking cats ingest eggs stuck to their feet. People bring parasites to the apartment on clothing and shoes. Even chewing a blade of grass or eating a beetle your cat may get worms. Worms from cats to people in most cases are transmitted through feces and saliva.
Why are worms dangerous?
Parasites living in the blood and tissues of the body aren’t not just disgusting, but dangerous. Helminthes feed lymph, blood and tissue organs, exhausting the body of the carrier. All kinds of worms in cats secrete into the body substances, causing intoxication. Dead parasites decompose which also leads to poisoning. Besides worms may lead to serious allergic reactions. Fixing themselves to the body tissues helminthes may lead to tissue traumas, which may lead to necrosis and even to blood vessel or organ ruptures. Danger signs of worms in cats are constipation and bloating. They are symptoms of intestinal obstruction, which can lead to death of the cat (worms propagate so actively that may score the intestinal lumen, making it impossible for feces to come out).
Common symptoms of helminthic infestation
If de-worming in cats is conducted regularly, the symptoms are less pronounced, as the worms don’t have enough time to propagate in large numbers. And vice versa – ignoring preventive measures leads to severe infection with sometimes even several types of worms. The most common symptoms are: dull coat, discharge from the eyes, weakness, constipation or diarrhea, tight stomach, unnatural breath. Worms in cats cause impaired appetite: some eat greedily without gaining weight or even losing it, and some cats reluctantly eat their favorite food.
Before starting de-worming of your cat, you need to consult a vet, because:
- these symptoms may be the result of a disease not associated with worms;
- if there are too many of them or the worms are very large, they may kill your cat starting to decompose and leading to intoxication. The vet will tell you how to get rid of worms without endangering the health and the life of your pet and will prescribe complex drugs (including antihistamines) that will help the body cope with intoxication;
- the treatment should be appointed by the vet after laboratory testing of material, as universal de-worming tablets for cats contain a limited number of active substances and are not always effective.
Types of worms in cats
Worms are divided in 3 types according to their shape, size, methods of breeding and feeding: roundworms, tapeworms and flukes. If you haven’t already gone to your appointment at the vet clinic, we offer to learn a bit more about these enemies:
Roundworms are stretched in length parasites, round in cross-section (like an earthworm). Nematodes or white worms are found in cats more often than other species. They can be detected in the pet’s feces when cleaning the cat litter.
Hookworms are about 1 cm long parasites living in the intestines and feeding blood. Larvae penetrate into the body through the skin, and eggs get into the esophagus through the mouth. Symptoms of infection with this type of worms are: thirst, decreased activity and appetite, vomiting and/or bloody diarrhea, coughing.
Toxocara worms are 5 cm long and live in esophagus, intestines, gall bladder and liver. Infection ways: orally or in utero. These round worms in cats cause body exhaustion and provoke vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. In bodies of small kitten they develop rapidly, which often leads to rupture of the small intestine.
Tapeworms have flattened body and head provided with suckers or chitin hooks. The body of most types of tapeworms consists of segments, containing maturing eggs. Almost all cestodes are dangerous to people.
Alveococcosis pathogens are small parasites not more than 5 mm in length. They can be ingested by cats when eating killed rodents. Mature pets may live for years being infected with these worms and feel great. However, parasitic worms in cats are transmitted to humans, and for people they bring mortal danger. The disease is severe, chronic, difficult to diagnose. People even may die of liver tumors, metastases in the lungs, brain and other organs. A striking example of how medications against worms in cats can save not only the pet, but also the owner.
Cucumber tapeworms feel comfortable both in cat’s and in human’s body. The carriers of these worms are lice and fleas. In mature cats such a worm usually grows up to 30 cm and in a human it may grow up to 1.5 meters! These large parasites fix themselves to the intestinal wall with sharp hooks, seriously damaging the mucous membrane. Signs of these worms in cats are the following: painful stomach, irritability, thinness, insomnia, apathy, rumbling in the stomach, vomiting and diarrhea.
Another giant is broad (or fish) tapeworm. Cat’s body is enough for it to grow up to 1.5 meters, but in a human the parasite may grow up to 12 (!) meters. Can you imagine? One and a half meters in a small cat’s body! Infection occurs when a cat eats raw river fish or drinks water from the river, accidentally swallowing small crustaceans. Symptoms of infection are the same as in cucumber tapeworm infection.
Flukes rarely reach large sizes, but are extremely fertile. Trematode plain worms in cats usually have an irregular oval shape and are provided with toothy suckers, often placed in several rows.
Liver fluke, as its name implies, is a parasite feeding the liver tissues, being attached to them. Sometimes small worms affect the gallbladder and pancreas. Cat can get infected by eating raw freshwater fish. Symptoms of liver fluke infection are the following: weakness, unstable appetite, painful abdomen, diarrhea and/or vomiting, yellowish, sometimes rise in body temperature. Ordinary medicine against worms in cats isn’t effective in this case, so it is necessary to appoint a special treatment.
Lung worms enter the cat’s body while eating shellfish, crabs and crayfish or drinking water from the river. Small worms less than 1 cm long form cysts in lungs, destroying them. The symptoms are: cough, fever, fever, wheezing in the chest, poor appetite.
How to protect the pet?
Unfortunately you cannot fully protect the cat from being infected with worms as it is impossible. But you can prevent the reproduction of parasites, not allowing them to cause serious harm to the pet’s health. You need to regularly use the integrated de-worming tablets for cats: in case the cat is kept inside – once every four months, in case it is allowed to walk outside – once every three months. Kittens are given sweet slurry at the age of three weeks and two weeks prior to the first vaccination. Deworming of adult animals is carried out two weeks before vaccination and before mating. Effective drugs are Caniquantel, Prazicid, Pyrantel, Profender and Drontal.
Prevention of worms in cats includes compliance with hygiene measures and some of the limitations of the diet:
• Feces should be removed from the cat litter immediately;
• After changing the filler and cleaning the litter you should wash your hands thoroughly;
• A bell on the cat collar won’t let the cat catch a mouse or a bird;
• Don’t feed your pet with raw meat and fish.