Tapeworms in cat
Tapeworms are intestinal parasites of dogs and cats. They are classified as cestodes as they belong to another group than hookworms and roundworms. There are several types of tapeworms are known to infect cats, Dipylidium caninum is by far the most common. Let’s look at tapeworm infestation I cats and treatment of tapeworms in cats.
The tapeworm uses its mouth parts like a hook for attaching to the wall of the small intestine of the cat. Adult worms are several centimeters long. As this tapeworm matures different individual segments breaks off from main body and are passed into the cat’s feces.
Types of cat that are affected by tapeworms
Tapeworms in cats are caused by fleas. Tapeworms are unable to complete their life cycle without the presence of fleas in cats. It is not necessary whether the owner may have seen fleas, the cat must have gotten infested with fleas from another animal. In other way, tapeworms are more common in environments that are heavily infested with fleas. Also lice are reported as intermediate hosts for tapeworms are parasites, but relatively rare in cats.
Tapeworm infestation in cats
Cats are infected with tapeworms when flea larvae ingest tapeworm’s eggs. Contaminated bedding or carpet facilitates contact between flea larvae and tapeworm eggs. When the cat is licking or biting the skin after flea bite, flea is then swallowed. Fleas are digested in the intestines of the cat, the tapeworm hatches and anchors itself to the intestinal wall.
Symptoms of tapeworms in cats
Tapeworms are not dangerous for the cat and few clinical signs are attributed to its presence. If present in large numbers, tapeworms in cats can cause symptoms like weight loss or weakness. Also a cat infected with tapeworm may drag its rear across the floor or carpet because of irritation caused by anal proglottids. However, this behaviour is much more common in dogs than cats.
Sometimes a tapeworm releases its eggs in the intestine and migrates to the stomach. If this happens then cat also vomit’s an adult tapeworm which is several inches in length.
Diagnosis of tapeworms
Owners can recognize this cat has tapeworms and they bring this to the attention of the veterinarian. If terminal segments of the tapeworm break off and go to cat feces then it can be seen crawling on the surface of the stool. These segments of proglottids appear cooked white rice grains. Sometimes it can be seen crawling around the anus of the cat. Each capsule contains up to 20 proglottids tapeworm eggs.
They are harden and dehydrated when these proglottids are released into the environment; they are very small and take on a golden hue. Finally, they open and release its contents (eggs). It is important to understand that tapeworms are not readily diagnosed with routine stool examination. For this reason one should inform veterinarian when tapeworm segments are found in feces of your cat.
Treatment of tapeworm in cats
Treatments of tapeworms in cats are available that are safe and effective. Antiparasitic drugs (anthelmintic) may be given as tablets or by injection. Tapeworm dies after treatment and is usually digested in parts of the intestine, the worm that usually occurs in the feces. In rare cases side effects such as vomiting and diarrhoea are seen.
Flea control is the considered as cornerstone for preventing tapeworm infection. This has been much easier now then before as exciting flea control products are available. Depending on the type of product one can use and the presence of other pets in your house, veterinarian can help to decide whether it is also necessary to treat house and yard for fleas. Environmental control of fleas may not be necessary with some newer products.
If the cat lives in an environment infested with fleas, tapeworm infection can be restored in a few weeks. This can be rare because of treatment failure. Also in most cases, reoccurrence of tapeworms can be because of re-infection of cat.