Tapeworms, or cestodes, are fairly easy for your cat to pick up, but they have the potential cause health problems. Just about any cat can get them regardless of age and breed, and they can even be transmitted across to other species, including humans. However, they are also easy to treat provided you are aware that your cat is infected. Here is more information about tapeworms and their symptoms so that you can get your cat treated at an animal hospital before his or her health is compromised.
How Do Tapeworms Infect Cats?
While several types of tapeworms can infect your cat, the most common kind is Dipylidium caninum. This species enters your cat by using fleas as an intermediate host. Your cat likely swallows fleas during grooming or reacting to a bite and can pick up a tapeworm if he or she swallows an infected one. Other species of tapeworm may be contracted when your cat eats another infected animal such as a mouse or bird.
What Are the Signs of Tapeworm Infection?
Many cats show no indication of an infection at all, and often the first sign is a visible tapeworm segment near the anus or base of the tail. Tapeworms get quite large and often shed these rice-like segments as part of their growth cycle. Your cat's feces can also be examined for worms or eggs. Some cats will exhibit severe weight loss even though they are eating normally. Other cats may have increased vomiting, and some may even vomit up a large segment of the tapeworm.
How Are Tapeworms Treated?
Make sure that you get an initial diagnosis of tapeworms from your veterinarian before attempting to treat your cat. After your cat is diagnosed, treatment is fairly easy and usually involves oral medications, but injections are also available. These medications destroy the tapeworm in the gut, so you should not see any evidence of it in the stools. On top of deworming medications, your cat will also need to be treated for fleas in order to keep the problem from reoccurring.
Tapeworms can affect your cat's health, and there is no need for them to suffer for it. It's important to rid your cat of the parasite as soon as it is noticed, especially if your cat's immune system is compromised. Be sure to keep your cat and home flea-free to prevent further infestation and health issues. If your cat is having a severe tapeworm infection, or the deworming and flea treatments aren't working, then follow up with your veterinarian as soon as possible.