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Cat Deworming

How Worms In Cats Are Contracted

At Prestige Animal Hospital, we love helping educate our clients about the best detection and prevention methods for worms in cats, and we pride ourselves on providing our feline patients in and around the San Bernardino County, Southern California area with the utmost in care and treatment protocols. Some of the most common ways to contract worms in cats include:

  • Drinking contaminated milk from the mother during nursing
  • Rolling in, sniffing, eating, stepping in or licking contaminated soil
  • Consuming infected prey like rodents, birds, and reptiles
  • Mosquito, flea and tick bites and ingestion
  • Coming into contact with an infected cat or another infected animal
  • Consuming or coming into contact with an infected animal’s feces or vomit

It is very important to understand that worms in cats can cause severe medical issues and health conditions if left untreated. This is why we recommend discussing a cat worm preventive protocol with your veterinarian. You can learn how to spot some common symptoms of worms in cats, and also how you can go about preventing the presence and spread of worms in and around your home and family, by reading on.

Types Of Cat Worms

The following intestinal parasites are some of the most common types of cat worms:

  • Roundworms: The most common cat worms of all types. Roundworms in cats grow reach 3-5” long in adulthood, and they resemble a piece of wet spaghetti. Roundworms in cats can be transmitted via the nursing process, by feeding on an infected animal, or by contact with the infected feces of another animal.
  • Tapeworms: Tapeworms in cats have long and flat ⅛” segmented bodies that can grow to 8 inches in length. Tapeworms in cats happen when a cat encounters or ingests a host that is carrying tapeworm eggs, like a bird or a flea.
  • Hookworms: Hookworms in cats are the smallest of all common cat worms varieties. Hookworms in cats reside primarily in the small intestine. They grow to approximately one inch in length and feed on the blood. They can cause life threatening anemia in cats of all ages, but especially kittens. Hookworms are passed in the feces, and can infect other animals and people too.
  • Whipworms: Whipworms in cats are about ¼” long and reside in the cecum and colon. Whipworms can cause severe damage to these organs, and are considered one of the most harmful cat worms in existence, but are also more geographically distinct than other cat worms.
  • Heartworms: Heartworms in cats (link to cat Heartworm page) live in the heart and pulmonary arteries. They are transmitted by infected mosquitoes, which migrate throughout the body over about 6 months before finally coming to rest in the circulatory system. Heartworms are transmitted only from an infected mosquito’s bite, and not within or between species. They are preventable and treatable, but can be fatal if not diagnosed and arrested before the advanced stages of infestation.
  • Ringworm: Ringworm, or dermatophytosis, is a skin disease caused by a fungus that results in lesions and sores on the epidermal (or outer skin) layer. Interestingly enough, ringworm is not caused by a worm at all, but rather by an infection of dead layers of skin, hair and nails. Ringworm is curable, but treatment can take time and the condition can be very painful.

Of all these common types of cat worms, the two varieties veterinarians see and treat most often are roundworms in cats and tapeworms in cats.

Roundworms In Cats

Like tapeworms and hookworms, roundworms in cats nest in intestinal tracts and deposit eggs into a cat’s stool. Because of this, tapeworms in cats can be detected through microscopic imaging. As we mentioned above, roundworms in cats can be transmitted via the prenatal and/or nursing process, by feeding on an infected animal, or by contact with the infected feces of another animal.

Roundworm eggs found in one cat’s fecal matter can also be contagious to other cats. Additionally, several other animal species’ can harbor parasitic eggs that when consumed by a host feline, become roundworms in cats, including:

  • Chickens
  • Cockroaches
  • Earthworms
  • Rodents

If your veterinarian detects the presence of roundworms through a fecal exam and/or other supportive diagnostic tools, he or she will order a series of usually between 2-3 roundworm treatments.

These treatments consist of medications that temporarily anesthetize the roundworms, causing them to pass out of the intestines and the cat’s body through bowel movements.

Unlike adult roundworms, the eggs, or larvae, are incredibly resistant and resilient. They have even been known to survive disinfectants and extreme, harsh environmental conditions. In these cases, removal of a cat’s stool is the best option to prevent reinfection. This can be accomplished by using a 1% bleach, 99% water solution to remove the sticky outer coating of the eggs, which will allow them to be flushed away. However, we do not recommend planning or undertaking such a procedure without first consulting your veterinarian.

Adult worms can usually be seen with the naked eye in the stool versus eggs, which require a microscope. For this reason, we highly recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian if you suspect roundworms in cats, in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Tapeworms In Cats

Tapeworms in cats most commonly come from ingesting a host animal or object that contains tapeworm eggs. Tapeworms attach themselves to a cat’s small intestine by latching onto the wall with a sharp, hook-like oral cavity. cats that spend time outdoors are at an increased risk of contracting tapeworms, as the contraction and infestation process demonstrates:

  • Tapeworm eggs are attached to flea larvae through locational contact
  • A cat comes into contact with the host flea larvae through skin or oral contact
    • If skin contact, the cat bites and licks to combat the biting flea, which can cause an ingestion of the tapeworm eggs, which will become tapeworms
    • If oral contact, the cat swallows the flea in its entirety, and the digestion process turns the flea into a tapeworm in the intestines

Tapeworms in cats feed off of partially digested food in the intestines, which robs a cat of much needed nutrients and vitamins (at the least). Therefore, it is extremely important to understand how to spot tapeworms in cats so that should your feline friend become a host, he or she will not stay that way for long:

  • Dried segments of tapeworms in cats, approximately ⅛ - 1/16” should be visibly apparent around the anus, or stuck to the fur of a host cat’s hindquarters. They should be hard to the touch, and golden in color.

We recommend contacting your veterinarian immediately should you suspect or witness any symptoms of tapeworms in cats. There are very effective forms of oral and injectible medications we can prescribe, but arresting and intervening in the early stages of an infestation greatly improves the prognosis for a full recovery.

Symptoms Of Cat Worms

It is important for cat owners to be on the lookout for symptoms of worms, because by the time your feline friend displays signs of infestation, he or she is usually already well along in the process. Some of the most common symptoms of worms in cats are:

  • Weight loss accompanied by a marked increase or decrease in appetite
  • Distended abdomen, or ‘pot-bellied’ appearance
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea/chronic soft stools
  • Chronic coughing
  • Dulling of coat and/or hair loss accompanied by skin irritation/inflammation
  • Rubbing or dragging the hindquarters across the ground
  • Visible presence of segments of tapeworms in cats attached to the skin and fur around the anus/hind quarters area
  • Visible presence of roundworms in cats in infected stool, like tiny grains of rice

These symptoms of worms in cats can also indicate other illnesses, so we recommend contacting your veterinarian immediately if you suspect or witness any of these symptoms of worms in cats in your feline friend.

How Are Cat Worms Treated?

cat worms are generally treatable, so long as they are diagnosed, arrested and treated before the onset of advanced stages of infestation. Your veterinarian can prescribe the proper deworming medication (anthelmintic), along with the appropriate administration protocol, based on the parasite and extent of infestation.

  • For tapeworms in cats, the medication breaks up tapeworms inside of the intestinal tract, making them too small to see in the feces
  • For roundworms in cats, the medication detaches the worms from the intestinal tract, and excrete them into and with the stool
  • For hookworms in cats, the medication kills the adult hookworms only. We will recommend another treatment in 2-4 weeks to treat the hookworms that were babies during the first treatment
  • For ringworm in cats, we can prescribe antifungal medications, shampoos, lime-sulfur dips, and the shaving or severely affected areas
  • For whipworms in cats, we can prescribe medication in 3-4 week intervals, and then every 3-4 months to help prevent a re-infestation
  • For heartworms in cats, and depending upon the severity of the infestation, we can prescribe oral and injectible medication, antibiotics, special diets, diuretics to reduce fluid accumulation, and even extended prescription of heart medication in extreme cases

We highly recommend consulting your veterinarian before purchasing or administering any over-the-counter or prescription medication for cat worms. Only your veterinarian can determine the severity of the infestation, and then order the proper number of treatments, as well as any other recommended instructions.

Are Worms In Cats A Danger To My Family?

Some types of worms in cats, like roundworms, are very dangerous to human beings, especially children who play in areas frequented by host animals like raccoons, cats, and cats. Sandboxes and other dirt and sand covered outdoor play areas routinely serve as makeshift litter boxes for animals infected with cat worms, and many other intestinal parasites. In fact, approximately 10,000 children per year are infected with parasitic worms, and conditions including blindness can occur in severe cases. However, we will now discuss several effective precautionary measures you can take to help keep you and your family free from worms in cats.

Steps To Prevent Cat Worms

Fortunately, various preventive measures can be taken to help ensure your human, feline, and other assorted family members remain at a lower risk for contracting and spreading cat worms. Some preventive measures to reduce the risk of worms in cats include:

  • Initial treatments given to all kittens at 3 weeks of age
  • Treating nursing females alongside their litter, in case worms in cats were not detected in a previous fecal examination
  • Monthly cat worms preventive medication, given year round as prescribed by your veterinarian
  • Fecal examinations performed between 2-3 times per year depending on lifestyle habits like hunting, and geographic location
  • Prompt detection and intervention in the form of a dewormer for cats
  • Clean up backyard feces periodically, at least 2-3 times per week
  • In public parks, playgrounds and cat parks, immediately dispose of feces with sanitary gloves and sealable bags
  • Stressing sanitary and hygienic conditions in the home, including limiting internal exposure to contaminated soil, fecal matter and/or host animals
  • Stressing hygiene in public, and especially with children, by limiting or avoiding exposure to potentially contaminated objects, locations, animals or people

Deworming Kittens And New Cats

There are few thrills a family can experience like providing a forever home for a new kitten or cat. However, both newly homed kittens and rehomed adult cats should be dewormed as follows:

  • Kittens: Initial treatment at 3 weeks of age and then as directed by your veterinarian. After the initial treatment(s) are completed, we recommend a monthly heartworm preventive that also helps prevent intestinal parasites. This should be the beginning of an annual dewormer for cats protocol that your veterinarian can monitor and adjust if necessary.
  • Adult Cats: Once the initial dewormer for cats has been given as a kitten, cats should receive monthly preventives year round. Additionally, we recommend performing fecal tests between 2-3 times per year depending on your cat’s lifestyle and several other factors.
  • Newly Acquired Cats: No matter the age or documented history, we recommend a dewormer for cats immediately upon acquisition, then again as recommended by your veterinarian, with a monthly dewormer for cats preventive to follow as directed.

Treating Cat Worms In The Fontana, CA Area

Scheduling an appointment for worms in cats in the Fontana, CA area is as easy as picking up a phone and calling (909) 453-4213 or sending us an inquiry through our website. We proudly serve the San Bernardino county and the Inland Empire. Also, the following areas and zip codes: Fontana(92334, 92335, 92336, 92337) ,Riverside, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Bloomington, Redlands, Colton, Rialto, San Bernardino and Loma Linda 

If You Suspect Your Cat Has Worms, Schedule An Appointment

Our dedicated veterinary team is here to help answer any cat worms questions you might have, and can schedule an appointment for your feline friend today.

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