The most common intestinal worms that cats can be susceptible to are roundworms and tapeworms. Your pet may not show signs of infection with mild burdens, however with heavy burdens they may experience weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea and failure to thrive.
Some worms can also be passed onto humans and therefore it is important to regular treat your cat to prevent these parasites.
There are two common roundworms in cats Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina. Eggs are passed in the faeces and are able to remain viable in the environment for several years. Infection to other animals may either be through ingestion of eggs from contaminated ground or ingestion of an intermediate host (e.g. mouse or bird) that are infected. Toxocara cati can also be passed from queen to the kittens within the milk.
Hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme and Uncinaria stenocephala) are more common within other countries throughout the world. These worms can cause damage to the lining of the intestine causing signs of weight loss bleeding or anaemia. Cats can become infected through the ingestion of the worm eggs from the environment or by larvae burrowing through the cat’s skin.
Heartworm otherwise known as Dirofilaria immitis is another parasite which is treated against. Signs of infection of heartworm may include coughing, asthma-like attacks, perioidic vomiting, lack of appetite or weight loss.
These tapeworms will tend to be referred to a resembling a ‘grain of rice’. Tapeworms are long flat worms consisting of many segments and mature segment holding eggs will be released from the end of the tapeworm and passed in the faeces. These ‘grains of rice’ may be visible around the animal’s anus, in the faeces or on the pet’s bed. Cats can become infected with Taenia taeniaeformis through the ingestion of an infected intermediate host such as a mouse or bird. Dipylidium caninum has an intermediate host of the flea and your cat could become infected through the ingestion on a flea.
Our general advice regarding worming of your cat, is that kittens should be wormed every 2 weeks from 3 weeks of age until 8 weeks, then it is recommended to treat monthly until 6 months of age. After 6 months, worming will depend on certain factors such as outdoor access, hunting, and the presence of children or other vulnerable people with the household. These individuals should be treated more regularly as they will be classed as a higher risk and it is also advised to use a product to treat against fleas to minimise the risk of tapeworm.
If you have any questions regarding your cat’s parasite control, our staff would be more than happy to help.