Parasitic worms can reside in the stomach lining or intestinal wall of many animals, including cats and dogs. Your cat can contract several different types of parasitic worms, and as a result, develops certain health problems. More commonly, cats are observed to contract roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, stomach worms, lungworms, and heartworms.
Worm Infestation in Cats
Some worms, like roundworms are very common in young kittens, as these parasites can pass from an infected mother to her child through milk. The mother can contract the parasites by eating rodents that contain worm larvae, or by ingesting contaminated soil.
On the other hand, cats can get tapeworms by ingesting fleas. This usually happens when they groom themselves and in the process, ingest fleas that act as the carrier or vector of tapeworms. Apart from these, cats can contract intestinal parasites by eating feces of an infected cat or other animal, and also by ingesting slugs or snails. Sometimes, mosquito bites can also transfer the worm larvae into the bloodstream.
The overall health and well-being of a cat can get adversely affected due to a worm infestation. The most common symptoms of a worm infestation are gastrointestinal problems, like diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, bloating, loss of appetite, and weight loss. The affected cat can be observed to develop a pot belly. Sometimes, a worm infestation may not produce any symptom at all, while at other times, symptoms can vary considerably depending on the type of worm that has affected the cat.
In the case of tapeworm and roundworm infestations, the worm eggs can be seen in the stool of the animal or at its rear end. The specific symptoms associated with a hookworm infestation are, diarrhea, abdominal pain, anemia, and the presence of blood in stool. Stomach worms can cause vomiting, lethargy, and weight loss in cats.
But if the cat is suffering from a heartworm infestation, it may not exhibit any signs or symptoms in the early stage. However, a severe heartworm infestation can damage the heart or lungs of the animal. A lungworm infestation can produce symptoms like cough and breathing difficulty, but only when it is quite severe in nature.
Diagnosis and Treatment
The presence of intestinal worms in your feline friend can be identified with the help of a stool examination. Some worms such as tapeworms can be easily identified by examining the stool of the animal. If you look closely, you can observe small rice-like segments of worms in the stool of the animal or its rear end.
Similarly, roundworms can also be visible in the stool or vomit of the animal. But certain worms, like lungworms and hookworms are not visible to the naked eyes, and hence a proper diagnosis will require the examination of a stool sample. So, if you suspect that your cat has contracted intestinal worms, then get the stool of the animal examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Cats having intestinal worms can be treated with deworming medications. A number of over-the-counter deworming medications are available for treating cat worms. However, it is always advisable to consult a veterinarian for the proper treatment of this condition.
The medications given for treating a worm infestation can destroy these parasites, but cannot prevent a future infestation. Therefore, along with treatment, it is important to follow certain precautionary measures to lower the chances of future worm infestations. So, keep your cat away from other worm-infected cats and animals, as well as from their feces and vomit. Apart from these, you can adopt some flea control measures to check the growth of these vectors. At the same time, be sure to get your cat checked up, or its stool examined by an expert veterinarian from time to time, so that an infestation can be detected quickly before the situation becomes alarming.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of a veterinarian.