Cats full of worms may appear healthy and happy, living their best lives, even. But do not be deceived, for there is more than meets the eye. Worms multiply fast and can wreak havoc in your cat’s organs within the shortest time. These parasites feed on the nutrients in the cat’s system and in some cases, even their blood.
There are different types of worms, each with different symptoms at the time of infection. Your vet must tell the worm species that is present so that the correct treatment can be administered. Before the situation becomes too severe, it will help to regularly deworm your cat and be on the lookout for tell-tale signs of worms.
How does infection happen?
First off, every cat, regardless of its age, is susceptible to worm infections. However, cats that hunt are more prone to it because their prey could be carriers of parasites. When a cat eats a mouse or bird that is infected, it can get the infection too. Kittens are not spared either, because when they are nursing, they can obtain roundworm larvae from the milk, as well as acquire tapeworm from fleas.
Cats that like to stay indoors can also get infected because tapeworm-carrying fleas can be ferried into the house by people’s clothes or even outdoor cats or dogs.
Symptoms of worms in cats
Even though the most common types of worms found in felines are roundworms and tapeworms, there are more types of worms that find their way into cats’ bodies, each manifesting themselves in almost similar but different ways.
As the same suggests, roundworms have a long and round appearance and almost look like spaghetti. The only difference is that these worms have a pointed end. Their eggs are so microscopic that even if they are passed out through your cat’s stool, you will not notice. However, one way to know if your cat has roundworms is if it displays the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Lethargy or lack of energy
- A dull coat
- Distended or swollen belly (in extreme cases, mostly in kittens)
Tapeworms look like long, cream-colored ribbons, with eggs whose sacs resemble grains of rice. They live in the cat’s gut, where they feast on its nutrients. Often, you can see the egg sacs when your cat passes stool, sometimes even the worm segments. Older cats are the main ones affected by tapeworms, but kittens can fall victim too when they ingest infected fleas. When cats get infected with tapeworms, there are no visible symptoms, but here is how the worms manifest themselves:
- Increased appetite
- Rice-looking grains or worm segments in the fur around the bottom area
- Repeated cleaning around the bottom area
Hookworms are not as common as roundworms and tapeworms, but that does not mean you shouldn’t be aware of them. These worms feed off cats’ blood through the small intestine, putting them at risk of anemia. Infection can be fatal in some cases, especially for kittens. Adult cats that had previously had a hookworm infection may be immune to the parasites and may not show symptoms. Otherwise, these are the symptoms to look out for:
- Bloody stools
- Abdominal pain
That’s right. They camp in the lungs. I know it sounds scary but trust me, these are way less common than the other types of worms. Besides, they are rarely fatal, unless we’re talking about dogs, who aren’t as lucky as far as lungworms are concerned. But when an infection occurs, there can be lung damage and some breathing problems.
Lungworms are often carried by snails and slugs and usually find their way into cats’ bodies when cats eat prey that has eaten infected mollusks. Outdoor cats are more likely to be infected because they like to hunt. If your cat shows any of the following symptoms, they are likely to have a lungworm infection:
- Difficulty breathing
All of the above-mentioned symptoms require immediate medical attention, lest they become worse. You will need to contact your vet as soon as you notice them.
Remedies for Worms in Cats
Your cat is constantly at risk of a worm infestation, regardless of whether it is an adventurer or likes to stay indoors instead. The one sure way of ensuring your pet is always safe is to worm her regularly so that worms do not cause health problems.
There are so many available worming products, even in the nearest store, to help with your infestation problem. There are products to be used orally such as pastes, tablets, syrups, and powders, and there are spot-on drops to be placed near the base of the skull or on the neck. Moreover, while there are products meant to treat both tapeworm and roundworm, some are designed to work against one type.
All in all, it is crucial to follow instructions given by your vet on how often you should worm your cat and how to do it.
Worms, more so tapeworms, are carried around by fleas so anywhere the fleas go, there is a likelihood of a parasite infestation too. Your cat needs a monthly treatment for fleas, so organize this with your vet. Doing this at around the same time you do the worming reduces the chance of your cat ingesting tapeworm eggs through an infected flea.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can worms affect cats long-term?
If a worm infestation goes untreated for a long time, it can cause diverse health problems to your cat, like anemia. If the infestation is severe, then your cat is at risk of intestine blockage that can be fatal, especially if it’s a small kitten.
Can I get worms from my infected cat?
Yes, you can get worms from your cat through direct contact with its stool. Many times, we pick up the infections when we garden without gloves, walk barefoot in soil or let children play in sandboxes having infected stools from cats. If a worm can survive inside a cat’s body, it will surely survive inside a human body. For a fact, it will probably live a very lavish life because of how diverse our diets tend to be. However, we can prevent getting infected by practicing immaculate hygiene.
It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a worm infestation in your cat so that you can get immediate treatment as soon as possible. This goes a long way in protecting everyone else in your household from getting infected, as this problem is highly contagious.
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