postheadericon Worms

Worms are parasites that can affect your kitten or cat's health. They can be classified as either external (ectoparasites) or internal parasites (endoparasites).

Types of worms that cats can get are as follows:

  • Tapeworms
  • Hookworms
  • Ringworms
  • Lungworms
Most common that cats will get are roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms.

Signs that your cat might have worms is weight loss, pot bellied appearance, dull coat, gas in the intestines, diarrhea and even vomiting.

You can get rid of worms with a few doses of medication, but if you leave it untreated it can cause serious health problems to your cat.

Roundworms:

Roundworms are internal parasites and are very common in kittens or cats.

There are two species which affect cats, Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina.

Toxocara cati is more commonly found in cats. They feed upon the intestinal contents, competing with the host for food.

There are three modes of transmission, all of which occur when the cat consumes the infective eggs. It is possible for larvae to be encysted in the tissues from an earlier infection.

  • Transmammary transmission (Toxocara cati): When a cat is infected with roundworm, some larvae migrate to other tissues in the body. Pregnancy re-activates these larvae which migrate to the mammary glands & are passed onto the kittens via the mother's milk.

  • Hunting: Cats can be infected with roundworms by eating infected lizards, mice, birds and bugs.

  • Environmental: Cats ingest roundworm eggs containing infective larvae from the environment such as soil, or when they come into contact with the faeces of an infected cat.

Tapeworms:

Tapeworms are an internal parasite and are found in the small intestine of cats and the parasite attaches itself to the lining of the intestinal wall. It then begins feeding on your cat and absorbing his nutrients.

The most common one found in cats is the Dipylidium Caninum, they are flat and segmented, white in colour and can grow to several inches long.

You can find evidence of these worms in your cat's litter. They look like tiny grains of rice or sesame seeds in your cat's feces and sometimes they can be found around your cat's anus.

Your cat can get tapeworm from ingesting a flea that is carrying this parasite's larvae. If you discover that your cat has tapeworm, you can be pretty sure that fleas are on your cat or in your cat's surroundings. It takes only one single flea that your cat is biting or licking to get this parasite or eating an infected rodent.

If left untreated, tapeworms have the potential to debilitate your cat's health.

Hookworms:

Hookworms are internal parasites and they are very small worms. They have hook like mouth parts that burrow into your cat's intestinal wall and suck blood.

They can cause anemia, black or bloody diarrhea and are particularly dangerous to kittens.

Ringworms:

Ringworms (Dermatophytosis) are external parasites. This type of worm is not technically a "worm," but rather a fungal disease that affects the skin.

The fungi live on the surface of the skin and in the skin follicles feeding on dead skin tissue and hair. There are three different types of fungus that can cause ringworm but the most predominant ones found on cats is Microsporum canis.

The usual symptom is a round hairless lesion. The characteristic "ring" that we may see on humans doesn't always appear as a ring on cats. It will grow in size and often become irregular in shape.

It will cause the hair shafts to break off and resulting in patches of hair loss. The areas that the ringworm is usually found on are the face, ears, tail and paws. The lesions are scaly and may or may not be itchy and often the skin is reddened and inflamed.

Ringworm is highly contagious to you and to other animals.

Lungworms:

Lungworms are types of worms in cats that often go undiagnosed because their symptoms (coughing and difficulty breathing) are usually only exhibited with a really heavy infection.

Lungworms are amazingly easy for the domestic cat to get infested with, as they use the common garden slugs and sails as hosts until they reach a suitable animal. Normally, lungworms will end up in a cats system by it eating something that was a host to it. This could be the slug or snail itself, although cats tend not to eat these as they don't taste very nice, or more probably from a bird that has consumed a slug or snail previously hosting lungworm.

Lungworms can be up to 10mm long and they look just like hairs. Lungworms will develop in the tissue of the cats lungs after it has consumed a host or an animal that has eaten a host (such as a bird).

To positively diagnose the presence of lungworm the vet will have to find the coiled shaped microscopic lungworm larvae which are excreted in the cat's faeces. Normally cases of lungworm in cats will clear up by themselves in a few months, if they are left alone. But severe lungworm infestations need to be treated by a vet, as this will normally not get any better if left untreated.