If you have a cat it’s important to protect her against parasites. If you don’t, you might encounter a new houseguest: the tapeworm.
Even the most homely of cats is likely to catch worms at some point. The tapeworm is one of the most common types of worm found in cats, and once you read our guide below you’ll agree your pet will be better off without one. Take the time to learn how to spot the warning signs and make sure you know how to help protect your cat.
Cats can become infected with a tapeworm in a few different ways, most commonly by swallowing infected fleas while grooming – it is estimated that cats will swallow around 50% of any fleas present on their coat when they are cleaning themselves. Hunting cats are also at risk as they can get tapeworm from any infected small rodents they might snack on. Cats fed raw or undercooked meat can also get tapeworm.
In the case of the flea tapeworm, when an infected flea is swallowed the tapeworm larva is released into your pet’s intestine, where it develops into an adult.
The adult tapeworm is a long segmented worm that can live in your pet’s intestines for months. Small egg-filled segments break off the worm and are passed out into your pet’s faeces. These are not alive but they remain mobile for some time and look like grains of rice crawling around the back end of your animal, or in its poo. This can lead to an itchy bottom in your pet, causing them to “scoot” along the ground in an attempt to relieve the itch.
Symptoms of a tapeworm infection can include weight loss and general malaise, although often animals will not show any symptoms at all. It’s therefore a good idea to keep up a regular worming schedule to protect your pet from these unwanted passengers.
Simply put, tapeworms are fairly disgusting – as well as potentially harmful – and leaving them unchecked inside your cat is not advisable. Luckily, treatment is straightforward; tapeworms can be dealt with by regularly using an effective worming product.
Did you know…
People can also be infected by tapeworms, and in 2017 doctors in India removed a tapeworm from a man that was over six feet long!