Cat Intestinal Worms

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Even if you don't see worms in your cat's stool, they could be an unwilling host to intestinal parasites that threaten their health and can even sicken the people around them.

"Fecal examinations are an absolute necessity for kittens and any pet that has diarrhea, vomiting, or other gastrointestinal symptoms."

Which Cats Are Most at Risk?

Two types of intestinal worms most frequently infect cats: roundworms and tapeworms.

Roundworms are primarily a problem for kittens. They usually pick up these parasites from their mother by suckling milk that contains roundworm larvae. Adult cats can also become infected when they eat a small amount of dirt containing roundworm eggs or eat an infected prey animal (e.g., a rodent).

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Tapeworms tend to be found in adult cats or older kittens. Cats get tapeworms either by ingesting a flea (e.g., through the grooming process) or a prey animal (e.g., a rodent) that contains tapeworm larvae. In either case, mature tapeworms in a cat's intestinal tract shed pieces of their body that can be seen by the naked eye. They usually look like squished pieces of rice that can be found, often still moving, around a cat's anus or in her bedding.

Cats can also get hookworms and whipworms, but do so much less frequently than dogs.

Why Owners Should Be Concerned

Intestinal worms can make cats very sick. Roundworms can cause diarrhea, vomiting, a bloated abdomen, weight loss and poor growth, but some infected animals show no clinical signs at all. Hookworms can also cause diarrhea and vomiting, but because they suck their host's blood at their attachment site in the intestinal tract, they can also lead to a potentially life-threatening anemia. Tapeworms may cause anal irritation and "scooting" when the worm segments wiggle around a cat's hind end.

People can also become sick when they are infected with feline intestinal parasites. The biggest problem revolves around roundworm eggs that are inadvertently eaten and then hatch producing larvae that can migrate throughout the body. Hookworm larvae in the environment can also invade the body through the skin. Keeping your cat free of intestinal parasites and disposing of her feces daily protects both feline and human health.

Veterinary and Home Care

There are two ways deal with the threat of feline intestinal parasites. The first is through the use of fecal examinations. A veterinarian will look at a sample of feces that has been mixed with a particular type of solution that causes worm eggs to float to the surface. This helps diagnose exactly which parasites are present, including some like Coccidia and Giardia that are not technically worms and are not killed by traditional dewormers. Your vet can then pick exactly the right pet medication to treat your cat.

Advantage Multi

Fecal examinations are an absolute necessity for kittens and any pet that has diarrhea, vomiting or other gastrointestinal symptoms. The downside of fecal examinations is that they are sometimes falsely negative, meaning that no eggs are seen even when parasites are present. For this reason, your veterinarian may run several fecal examinations over a period of a few days or elect to deworm even if the tests are negative.

Pet owners and veterinarians may also elect to deworm without running a fecal examination. The positives of this approach include simplicity and the fact that cats that would have a false negative fecal exam are still dewormed. The negative side is that some cats that don't need to be dewormed will be and some parasites that are not killed by traditional dewormers may go undiagnosed.

If you need to pick out a dewormer yourself, use one that kills the parasites most likely to be infecting your cat. Some types of heartworm preventatives also help protect against intestinal parasites. Look at the label to see if this is the case. Whichever dewormer you choose, make sure to follow the instructions closely. Many products require multiple doses to completely eradicate the parasites. When in doubt, ask your veterinarian which product is right for your cat.

The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your pet. Any trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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