Intestinal Parasites in Cats

Intestinal parasites can cause diarrhea, weight loss, rough hair coat, and/or a pot-bellied appearance. Vomiting can also be seen, sometimes with worms in the vomit. Sometimes cats with intestinal parasites show no signs at all.

What You Can Do

  • Save a stool sample. Not all intestinal parasites can be seen in your cat's poop; some are only identified in a poop sample examined under the microscope.
  • Observe your cat's vomit and/or poop. Roundworms look like spaghetti and can be found in vomit and/or poop. Tapeworms are long, flat, and segmented. Whole tapeworms can be found in poop or sticking out of the rectum. Most commonly, the tapeworm segments break apart and look like pieces of rice stuck on your cat's rear end.
  • Keep a record of any de-wormers and anti-protozoal medications that are given to your cat- what product was used, and what date it was given.

How Your Cat Gets Intestinal Parasites

  • Roundworms: Primarily spread from cat to cat via infective eggs shed in the poop. Kittens can also get roundworms from nursing on an infected mother cat.
  • Hookworms: Hookworm larvae can enter the cat either by mouth or through the skin, particularly the feet.
  • Tapeworms: Requires an intermediate host, such as fleas or prey (rodents, rabbits, some species of birds). It is not spread from cat to cat.
  • Coccidia: Primarily spread from cat to cat via oocysts (eggs) shed in the poop. Oocysts are difficult to get rid of once they are in the environment.

Treatment of Intestinal Parasites

  • Cats with intestinal parasites are given a de-wormer or anti-protozoal medication, based on what kind of intestinal parasite is identified, either with the unaided eye or on microscopic examination of the poop.
  • Follow-up microscopic examination of the poop may be needed to ensure that the intestinal parasites have completely resolved.

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