Tapeworms in Cats: Tapeworms are flattened worms that live in the intestines of people and animals, including cats. These worms behave like parasites, feeding on part of the food that the animal takes. Which is known as a host or host.
This situation, which may seem comfortable for the parasite, is not so much for our cats, as it can cause symptoms such as diarrhea or growth retardation. If you want to avoid these problems in your pet, in AnimalExpert. We will talk about the symptoms of tapeworms in cats, as well as the forms of infection and its treatment.
- 1 Symptoms of Tapeworms in Cats:
- 1.1 Contagion
- 1.2 How did he get to infect a cat?
- 1.3 Forms of contagion:
- 1.4 Did the Tapeworms in Cats infect humans?
- 1.5 Diagnosis
- 1.6 Treatment of tapeworm in cats
- 1.7 Prevention
Symptoms of Tapeworms in Cats:
In many cases, the symptoms caused by tapeworms in cats can be mild and difficult to perceive by the owner, however, sometimes more serious problems may appear revealing the feline tapeworm.
These symptoms are a consequence of the presence and the way of feeding of these annoying worms, we explain them to you next:
- On the one hand, to avoid being expelled by the bowel movements of the host.
- These parasites are fixed in the intestinal wall with mechanisms that vary according to the species of tapeworm but include suckers and sometimes hooks.
- As it is to imagine, this causes irritation and inflammation in the intestine, being able to cause abdominal pain in the host. Check our article to know how to identify pain signs in cats.
- Also, the simple presence of these worms in the digestive system of the animal can produce diarrhea, and, if there is a very high amount of tapeworms, intestinal obstructions.
- In addition, as the tapeworms “steal” part of the nutrients that the cat ingests, problems can appear in the nutrition of the same ones, like lack of vitamins and delay in the growth in our pussycat.
- n the case of Dipylidiumcaninum, a relatively common tapeworm in cats, itching can be detected in the area near the anus of the animal.
- This is because the parasite eggs leave the cat’s anus along with parts of the worm (called proglottis) that move through the anal area.
There are many species of tapeworms and they can affect different animals depending on the type of worm in question. In addition, the life cycle of tapeworms can also vary from one species to another but usually has some common characteristics.
Regarding the type of worm, cats can be affected by tapeworms of the species Dipylidiumcaninum, Taeniataeniformis, Diphyllobotriumlatum and can also host some species of the genus Echinococcus, which are typical tapeworms of dogs and other canines.
How did he get to infect a cat?
It is necessary to know the differences between the definitive host and the intermediate host: the host or definitive host is the animal that hosts the adult worms, in whose intestine they feed and reproduce by means of eggs.
These eggs are ingested by another animal, which is known as an intermediate host. In the tissues of the intermediate host, the eggs are transformed into larvae and they wait for the definitive host to ingest them.
Therefore, the definitive host, such as the cat, is infected by feeding on the meat of intermediate hosts. Which contains the larvae of the parasite, developing the adult worm in them and restarting the cycle.
Forms of contagion:
- Thus, in the case of the parasite Dipylidiumcaninum, fleas behave as an intermediate host and cats are infected by ingesting these.
- Diphyllobotriumlatum, also known as “tapeworm of fish” is transmitted by consuming raw fish with larvae of these parasites.
- As intermediate hosts of Taeniataeniaeformis we find rodents, and Echinococcus to several species of mammals such as pigs and sheep, for example.
Did the Tapeworms in Cats infect humans?
- As we have said, not only cats can be affected by tapeworms, but also humans, which makes prevention fundamental.
- Thus, for example, man can act as a definitive host of Diphyllobotriumlatum, by eating raw parasitized fish, and, in rare cases, by Dipylidiumcaninum, by ingesting fleas, voluntarily or involuntarily (something possible in children). In both cases, the adult worm develops in the intestine of the affected person.
- It can also be an intermediate host of certain species of Echinococcus. In this case developing cysts with larvae of the parasite in their tissues (liver, lung, for example), in a process known as hydatidosis.
- In the case of solitary cats, prevention plays a fundamental role. But if the measures taken have not been sufficient to prevent the disease. It is necessary to resort to an accurate diagnosis and an adequate treatment.
- The diagnosis is based on an examination of the animal’s stool (coprological examination). Performed by a veterinarian with the help of a microscope, to try to observe the eggs of the parasite.
- In some cases, by means of a blood test. Antibodies against the parasite can be detected. Being able to diagnose the disease and the species of worm involved.
Treatment of tapeworm in cats
- The treatment to eliminate tapeworm in cats is based on the use of effective drugs against flatworms, such as praziquantel,. Which is administered orally, generally in the form of tablets, under veterinary prescription.
- Also, depending on the severity of the process and the associated clinical symptoms (diarrhea, malnutrition, etc.). It may be necessary to treat them (for example, by providing a food supplement).
- As we have seen, tapeworms in cats can present more or less serious problems in our pets. But, fortunately, there are effective means for their prevention and treatment.
- To prevent contagion, it is recommended not to feed our cats with meat or fish without cooking. And in those that have access to the outside. Avoid as much as possible to eat rodents or dead farm animals.
- It is also essential to avoid and eliminate fleas in cats. And Using repellent products in the animal such as pipettes and antiparasitic collars. Always under the supervision of a veterinarian, and controlling the hygiene of the environment where the cat lives.
- Another important factor to prevent diseases caused by tapeworms in cats. It is to regularly deworm our pets with an effective product against intestinal worms, such as praziquantel.
- This must be done under the control of a veterinarian.