Unfortunately, it is extremely common for cats to get tapeworms. Good news though! Tapeworms are relatively easy to treat and the majority of cats make a full and speedy recovery. Keep reading to learn more about what tapeworms are, how cats get them, and how to avoid them.
What are Tapeworms?
Tapeworms are long, flat, white worms that are intestinal parasites. Using their hook-like mouths, tapeworms anchor themselves onto the wall of your cat’s small intestine. They can grow up to 20 inches long, although most are around 8 inches on average.
As tapeworms mature, they begin to shed bits of themselves, known as proglottids. The proglottids, often the size of a grain of rice, break off the body of the tapeworm and pass into the cat’s feces. As it dries, it becomes a golden color, eventually breaking open and releasing its fertilized eggs into the surrounding environment. On average, a proglottid may contain up to 20 tapeworm eggs.
How Do Cats Get Tapeworms?
Most often, cats get tapeworms from fleas. Fleas carry many types of tapeworm larvae. If the flea is ingested, the tapeworm larvae will begin to grow inside the cat’s intestines.
Additionally, cats can get tapeworms by eating tapeworm-infested feces. It is also possible for tapeworms to be passed from a mother to her kittens. Scavenging may also lead to a tapeworm infestation.
Tapeworm Symptoms in Cats
When it comes to tapeworm infections, you will rarely see signs of illness from your cat. If your cat is prone to heavy flea infestations, they are more likely to end up with tapeworms as well. The following are signs of tapeworms in cats:
- Weight Loss
- Poor Appetite
- Biting or Scratching the Anus
- Rice-like segments in cat’s feces
How Do I Keep My Cat Away From Tapeworms?
The best ways to prevent tapeworms in your cat is to keep them free of flea infestations by using control treatments regularly and by keeping your cat indoors. Flea and tick medication is a great way to prevent fleas and tapeworms. Even with indoor cats, it is recommended to apply a topical medication, such as Revolution Plus or Profender, to protect against heartworm disease, fleas ticks, mites, and tapeworms.
What You Can Do if Your Cat is Sick
Luckily when it comes to tapeworms, they are pretty easy to treat. If you are worried about your cat, your vet can give you a tapeworm medicine called a dewormer. This medication will help to dissolve the tapeworms in the intestines.
As a pet parent, you know your animal better than anyone else. If you notice any difference in your pet’s behavior or appearance or you just feel as though something isn’t quite right, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today! Prompt medical attention can improve the outcome of many illnesses, not to mention help your cat feel better as quickly as possible. Our team of veterinary professionals at Bowman Road Animal Clinic is here to provide diagnosis and treatment if your cat is exhibiting any unusual behaviors. Contact our office today at 501-223-3737!