Roundworms in Cats: Roundworms are parasites that can infect your cat’s digestive tract. It’s important to understand what roundworms are, how cats get them, and how to prevent and treat roundworm infections safely. Treating parasitic worms properly is key to your cat’s long-term health and wellbeing.
How Cats Get Infected
- Kittens often get roundworms from their mother’s milk. The larvae can pass through the placenta before birth or into the milk during nursing.
- All cats can pick up worm eggs from contaminated soil, feces or prey animals. Once ingested, the eggs hatch into larvae that migrate through the body.
- Outdoor cats or those with outdoor access have a higher risk since they hunt rodents and come into contact with more feces and soil in the environment.
Signs of Infection
Possible signs your cat has intestinal roundworms include:
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Visible worms in vomit or stool
- Coughing (if migration occurs to lungs)
- Poor coat condition
- Pot belly appearance
- Failure to gain weight
Veterinarians often prescribe oral dewormers to kill roundworms. Common options are:
- Pyrantel pamoate (dewormer medication that paralyzes worms)
- Fenbendazole (antiparasitic drug that starves and destroys worms)
- Other anthelmintic drugs
Follow your vet’s dosing instructions carefully. Normally more than one dose is needed, spaced 2-4 weeks apart, to kill newly hatched worms. Repeat fecal testing helps confirm elimination. Prompt treatment ensures your cat recovers fully.
Signs and Symptoms of Roundworms in Cats
Roundworms are common intestinal parasites that affect cats and can even spread to people. So it’s important to watch for these signs of infection in your feline friend:
- Frequent vomiting or coughing up worms
- A potbelly or distended abdomen
- Lack of appetite or weight loss
- Diarrhea or bloody/mucus-filled stool
- Dull or thinning coat
- Constant hunger and/or lethargy
If you see any of these symptoms, especially vomiting worms, it’s best to make an appointment with your veterinarian right away. They can run diagnostic tests like fecal exams or X-rays to check for roundworms, including Toxocara cati and Toxascaris leonina.
In some cases, roundworms in cats don’t cause obvious symptoms. But the parasites can still damage your cat’s health and increase the risk of spreading to humans, especially children who play in areas contaminated with feces. So regular deworming is recommended as part of a comprehensive parasite prevention plan.
Your vet can outline the safest and most effective deworming treatment options for your cat based on factors like age, health status, and medication sensitivities. Typically this involves periodic use of oral deworming medications like pyrantel pamoate, fenbendazole, or milbemycin oxime.
Regular deworming, promptly treating any symptoms, and proper cat-waste cleanup/disposal are key to protecting your furry friend and family from roundworms. So stay alert for signs of infection and follow your vet’s treatment recommendations. Maintaining good parasite prevention habits will help avoid issues down the road.
Treatment Options for Roundworms in Cats
Roundworms are a very common parasite found in cats, but fortunately, there are safe and effective treatment options available.
- The first step is to take your cat to the veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis. A fecal sample will allow the vet to confirm the presence of roundworm eggs under a microscope.
- Once diagnosed, the most common treatment is an oral dewormer medication. There are several over-the-counter dewormers available, but your vet may prescribe a stronger medication instead. These drugs kill off the adult roundworms in your cat’s intestines.
- In addition to an oral dewormer, your vet may also recommend a topical dewormer medication. This is applied to the skin on the back of the neck and kills roundworm larvae that are migrating through the tissues. Using both oral and topical medications is extremely effective.
- Most medications only kill the adult worms, not the eggs. That’s why it’s essential to give a second dose of dewormer 2-4 weeks after the initial treatment. This targets the larvae as they hatch before they mature into adults.
- During treatment, be sure to clean the litter box daily and remove all feces immediately. This helps prevent reinfection or transmission to other pets or humans. Wash bedding frequently as well.
- You may also want to check with your vet about follow up fecal tests after treatment to ensure the roundworms are fully gone. Catching a reinfection early makes retreatment easier.
The key is starting treatment as soon as roundworms are detected and sticking to the prescribed medication routine. With an accurate diagnosis and the right drugs, you can eliminate this common parasite and keep your cat healthy. Maintaining open communication with your veterinarian is essential for successful management.