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Kittens may not thrive and, in extreme cases, can develop intestinal obstructions from adult tapeworms. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best treatment and prevention plan for your kitty’s lifestyle. They can reach up to 60cm in length, and are a creamy-white color with flat segments along their length. You may see dried, white or cream-colored segments of the tapeworm in your cat's feces, or you may find them stuck to the fur under your cat’s tail. What makes it so difficult to diagnose tapeworms in cats is that kitties are very fastidious groomers. Cats can also get tapeworms by eating small animals like squirrels and mice. Cats may bite or lick their anus, or drag their hindquarters across the floor. A:Although it is uncommon, tapeworms can potentially affect people, too. Symptoms of Tapeworms in Cats. Taneia taeniaformis tapeworms arrive when a cat eats rodents that host tapeworm larvae. Tapeworms are the flattened worms that live in the intestines of people and animals, including cats. See the best-selling flea prevention treatments for cats here. The first is called Dipylidium caninum and is sometimes known as a flea tapeworm or a cucumber tapeworm. A fecal sample can be used to diagnose intestinal parasites like tapeworms. For example, tapeworm eggs are frequently ingested through adult fleas. Causes of Tapeworm in Cats Fleas are usually the intermediate host for the parasite Dipylidium caninum. If you notice tapeworms, take your cat to the vet for an evaluation. Pale yellow and mobile, the Dipylidium proglottids come out with the cat’s feces, but the segments can also migrate from your cat’s anus without the presence of stool. When cats eat these infected prey animals, the parasite then infects the cat. Here’s some info on tapeworms and what you can do to keep them away from your cat. The most effective medication for killing tapeworms in cats is praziquantel. Scavenging may also lead to an infestation of tapeworms. While one dose is considered effective to kill adult tapeworms, it is recommended to administer a second dose about two weeks later to kill any remaining or newly introduced tapeworms. Which is known as a host. You don’t usually see an expulsion of the tapeworms into the feces unless it is an unusually high worm load. This intestinal parasite has earned its “flea tapeworm” moniker because it uses a flea as an intermediate host to get into your pet. As the name suggests, tapeworms are long flat worms. Both types of tapeworms hook onto a cat's small intestines, where they mature in two to three w… Scavenging may also lead to an infestation of tapeworms. It’s always helpful to save any worms that you find and bring them to your veterinarian for diagnosis. An infection with the most common species of tapeworms in cats is not transmissible to humans, and when treated promptly, the prognosis is good. After treatment, the tapeworms will normally dissolve in the cat’s intestines. As a tapeworm grows, pieces of its body break into segments and pass into your cat’s intestines. Older cats are more likely to develop inflammation in their intestinal tracts that can lead to chronic vomiting and weight loss. Kittens and much older cats are especially susceptible to the adverse effects of intestinal parasites. Other hosts that a cat is likely to ingest include rabbits, birds, and rodents. Keep in mind that a tapeworm infection is often asymptomatic and, contrary to popular belief, rarely a cause of weight loss in cats. Understand what tapeworms are. Effective flea control and deworming, as recommended by your veterinarian, is key. Tapeworms are long, white and flat segmented worms that can live in the small intestines of cats and dogs. It's much more common to see tapeworm egg packets on the … As seen in the illustration above, the cycle of infection starts when segmented tapeworm egg packets, called proglottids, are consumed by flea larvae (pre-adult fleas) either outside or by existing fleas in the home. Eventually, adult tapeworms reach lengths of up to 11” (30 cm). They can be transported in a sealed plastic bag or jar. Let’s get to it! These worms behave like parasites, feeding on part of the food that the animal takes. Fresh or dry segments can occasionally be seen stuck to the fur around the anus or moving on the surface of fresh feces. Cats will catch and eat fleas, the eggs incubating in their digestive tract. The fleas actually ingest the tapeworm eggs before jumping on a cat, and then the cat eats the flea and becomes infected. They contain both male and female reproductive organs and use their hook-like mouth parts to anchor to the inside of the intestinal wall. Vigilant and effective flea control for your cat is the first step in preventing infection from the flea tapeworm, Dipylidium, and cats who go outside will often hunt and consume prey, which serve as intermediate hosts for the other species of tapeworms. The tapeworm eggs then hatch once they have been digested in the cat’s intestines. The way tapeworm infections occur in humans, though, depends on the species. It is the only drug that is effective against all species of tapeworm, and comes in tablet, injectable and topical forms. Not all flea control products are created equal and there is no deworming product that kills every type of intestinal parasite. Cats can clean the evidence from their backsides and bury their stool in the litterbox before anyone gets a chance to see the evidence of infection. Treatment for adult tapeworms is given on an outpatient basis in the form of an injection or oral medication. When the infected adult flea jumps onto your cat, it can then be consumed during your kitty’s grooming. They are about a quarter of an inch long when fresh and stretched out, but begin to dry after leaving the body and become more difficult to see. However, if infestation does occur, the environment must be treated along with the cat to prevent recurring infestations. So, for a cat to get tapeworms, they need to ingest the intermediate host. Rarely, a condition called Haw’s syndrome may be associated with heavy tapeworm presence in cats and cause prolapse in the third eyelids (nictitating membranes). Cats can get tapeworms in several ways. Any parasite, whether internal (like intestinal tapeworms) or external (such as fleas, ticks, lice and mites), has the potential to negatively impact your cat’s health. Taenia and Echinococcus tapeworms can infect wild rodents and rabbits, in addition to house pets. Everyone must know how to get rid of tapeworms in … Don’t bug out: We’re here to help! How to Treat Tapeworms in Cats. Deworming medications are effective at removing tapeworms and very safe for your cat. Effective flea control must also be used simultaneously to clear and prevent reinfection with Dipylidium worms. How long does it take to kill tapeworms in cats? Humans can also be infected with Taenia or Echinococcus tapeworm species if they consume an affected intermediate host, such as a rodent, rabbit or livestock that is contaminated with tapeworm larvae. A: Within hours of administering praziquantel, the medication starts breaking down the tapeworm’s protective outer “skin,” which allows the cat’s immune system and digestive enzymes to kill and dissolve the parasite. This syndrome can occur in severely dehydrated cats, but has also been associated with significant disease of the stomach and intestines due to parasites (such as tapeworms), inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal cancer and viral enteritis. Cats (as well as many other mammals) can have tapeworm infections, and they typically settle in the small intestine. The tapeworm eggs then hatch once they have been digested in the cat’s intestines. Some tapeworm species will break into segments that are too small to see, while the segments of other tapeworm species will resemble sesame or cucumber seeds in size and appearance. The fleas actually ingest the tapeworm eggs before jumping on a cat, and then the cat eats the flea and becomes infected. How Do Tapeworms Affect My Cat? Tapeworms can potentially lead to intestinal inflammation, which is bad for your cat’s immune system, and a poor immune system can lead to an array of other health problems. More often than not, an infected cat will not exhibit any notable … After a cat ingests a flea during grooming, the tapeworm hatches when the flea breaks down in the stomach. The first is because small insects such as fleas are the intermediate hosts. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Echinococcus is the only tapeworm species that has immediately infective eggs that do not require an intermediate host to cause infections. The flea tapeworm Dipylidium must inhabit a flea to become infective. Copyright © 2020 Chewy, Inc. However, the absence of Haw’s syndrome does not rule out intestinal parasite infection or other intestinal disease. Featured Image: iStock.com/DebraLee Wiseberg, Tapeworms in Cats: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention. When dry, they somewhat resemble sesame seeds. Since cats are fastidious groomers, you may not see the fleas that they are ingesting or know that they are contracting tapeworms until there is an infestation. To truly understand tapeworms in cats, pet parents first need to understand what tapeworms are and what tricks they have up their (metaphorical) sleeve when it comes to infesting your cat.
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