Cats can catch a wide variety of parasites that include tapeworms. When it comes to getting rid of tapeworms in cats, you must understand what they are and the symptoms they cause before you can obtain the right treatment for your furry friend.
What are tapeworms?
Tapeworms are a flat, segmented parasite that can easily be seen with the naked eye. They are whitish in color and are capable of reproducing on their own without the help of other tapeworms. These parasites live in the small intestine and take important nutrients from the food that your cat eats, which can ultimately cause your cat to lose weight.
Tapeworms start as larvae in a flea or rodent. The flea or rodent then passes the larvae onto the cat. There, the larva can develop into an adult tapeworm. Eventually, the tapeworms release proglottids which exit the body of the cat. These proglottids contain eggs that look like small grains of rice. At this stage, the eggs are then ingested by a rodent or flea, and the cycle starts again.
How do you know if your cat has tapeworms?
During the earliest stages, there aren’t any real physical symptoms. Owners usually notice something is wrong when they see rice-like eggs in the litter box or on furniture where the cat likes to rest. At this point, you may also notice that your cat spends a lot of time grooming his hind quarters, and he may even scoot his behind across the floor.
If the infestation is allowed to continue, your cat will eventually lose weight. However, your cat will also develop an insatiable appetite as the worms multiply and continue stealing nutrients from the food your cat ingests.
In some cases, tapeworms can detach themselves from the small intestine and end up in the stomach. Once in the stomach, your cat may vomit up the tapeworm, but there won’t be any evidence of eggs in your cat’s stool.
Getting rid of tapeworms in cats
It is important that you schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you suspect that your cat has tapeworms. Bringing a stool sample into the clinic can help your veterinarian diagnose the problem quickly. If you don’t have a sample, your veterinarian may suggest running a few tests or he may perform a thorough examination.
If it’s determined that your cat has tapeworms, your vet will prescribe an oral tablet, a spot-on treatment, or he will give your cat an injection. Common treatments for tapeworms in cats include Propantel, Virbac, and Profender.
Tapeworms are easy to prevent. Because tapeworm larvae are most often transmitted through fleas, it is extremely important that you provide your cat with an effective flea medication on a monthly basis. There are a wide variety of products to choose from, but topical treatments tend to be the most popular. Frontline and Advantage are popular choices with many pet owners.
It is important to rid your cat of fleas and tapeworms as quickly as possible. Not only do tapeworms in cats cause trouble for your feline friend, but a single flea can infect a human with tapeworms too.