Worms, or parasitic worms (helminths), can cause cats’ diseases, which have one common name – helminthiasis. Depending on the worm (roundworms, tapeworms, flatworms or flukes), which is the cause of the disease, there are nematodosis, cestodiasis and fluke disease. All kinds of these parasites could be found in cats, they can affect the intestines, liver, gall bladder, sometimes the muscles. In this article we will consider the symptoms of worms in cats, provide recommendations for treatment and prevention.
Danger for Humans
According to some resources, nowadays there are about 32 species of worms that are common for humans and cats. Let’s enumerate some of them. Types of cats’ worms, which are dangerous for people:
- Opisthorchiasis – affects the liver, gallbladder and pancreas.
- Tapeworm disease is caused by the tapeworms, which parasitize in the small bowel and reach a length of up to 10 meters.
- Toxocariasis and Dipylidiasis are caused by worms which live in the intestines.
- And one of the most dangerous diseases for humans is echinococcosis and alveococcosis. The larval stage affects the internal organs. A person could get infected with roundworms directly from the cat, as well as with echinococcosis and alveococcosis.
The picture shows the cycle of infection with opisthorchiasis, dangerous for both cats and people. Infection occurs through raw or poorly treated fish (and very common-from the carp family):
Symptoms of Worms in Cats
Certain symptoms of worms can vary depending on the extent of a cat’s affection by helminths, in other words – the number of worms in the body. With a weak invasion (affection) there may be absolutely no signs of the disease. Let’s specify the main signs of worms in cats that can indirectly indicate possible infection of cats with worms:
- oppression, bad or perverted appetite, weight loss, fatigue, the lag in growth and development if it is a kitten;
- shedding hair;
- ochodermia of the mucous membranes and enlargement of the liver (when fluke disease), or their anaemia (when cestodosis);
- indigestion (constipation followed by diarrhea, and vice versa, vomiting);
- periodically, a cough may appear (this occurs when larvae of round helminths migrate through the body);
- discharge from eyes;
- itching in the anus;
- in severe cases, symptoms of intoxication of the body may appear: convulsions, paresis of the legs, etc.;
- miscarriage or premature birth;
- blood and mucus in the cats’ feces.
In order to make an accurate diagnosis for the presence of helminths in the body, it is necessary to conduct a coprological study of feces (fecal analysis) to determine the helminth larvae. It is not always possible to reveal the eggs in the feces of cats at the first attempt. It is due to the development of the helminths.
Note!If the animal has been infected recently, there are immature individuals in the body that do not yet produce eggs, so the results of studies can be false negative. To avoid this situation, it is necessary to take feces at least 3-4 times during the month.
Generally, if you do not need scientific researches and there is no need to know the exact name of the helminth, this study is not necessary. If larvae or individuals are found in feces, it is no question that there is a disease. This is a sign that points directly to the affection of the cat by worms.
Since there are many ways and sources of infection of cats with helminths, it is necessary to follow some rules that will help to prevent invasion:
- never feed a cat with raw fish and meat, they must be thoroughly cooked;
- change the bedding frequently, clean the litter box and maintain their cleanliness, carry out periodic disinfection;
- carry out periodic preventive deworming of a cat: at least once every 3 months (especially for animals that often walk in the fresh air in the yard, park and other walking places), 2 weeks before the expected mating and 10 days before parturition;
- accurate disinfection of places visited by animals after preventive and therapeutic deworming;
- treatment of cats with drugs against fleas, which can also be a source of invasion.
There are a lot of drugs, acting at all stages of development of worms and able to completely rid the cat from parasitic worms. Most drugs act simultaneously on all types of helminths: nematodes, cestodes, trematodes. It should be also noted, that modern drugs do not have such a toxic effect on a cat, as they had before. There are a lot of drugs, they can be produced in the form of tablets from worms, suspensions, drops. Here are some of them:
You should give drugs to the cat on the morning pc; dosage shall be as referred in the instruction. It is not required to perform pre – cleansing the intestines of the animal, give laxatives and keep the cat on a hungry. Usually a crushed tablet, the suspension is mixed with a small amount of feed.
In case the animal refuses to eat such nourishment it should be forcefully. To do this, the animal should be securely fixed, the head thrown up, and the drug put in the mouth on the root of the tongue. Do not be afraid of excessive salivation, it is a natural reaction of the body. Also be sure that all the medicine has been swallowed, it is important to achieve the desired result.
The treatment is usually carried out twice, with an interval between giving the drug in 14 days. Sometimes longer treatment is required, when the animal has a high degree of invasion and helminths of different maturity are present together in the body. Treatment control can be performed using laboratory method, examining the feces for the presence of eggs and larvae of helminths.