Most worm infections in felines are treatable by appropriate medication that can be prescribed by the veterinary doctor.
However, it is often difficult to diagnose the problem in the early stages therefore preventative de-worming treatment is recommended in regular intervals even if the cat or kitten is not displaying any signs of an infection or disease.
Kittens have considerably lower immunity than adult cats and should be de-wormed every three weeks when they are 6 to 16 weeks of age. From the age of about 4 months cats should be wormed every 3 months if they have exposure to the outside world and every 6 months if they live strictly indoors.
Cats can become infected with roundworms by eating infected mice, lizards, birds and bugs or from ingesting contaminated soil. Roundworms are one of the most common parasite infections in cats. They are two to four inches long in milky white color and have tapered ends (think spaghetti). Felines pass them either through vomiting or in the stool.
In kittens, the presence of roundworms will cause a pot-bellied look and constantly feel hungry. In adult felines, the animal will vomit, have chronic diarrhea and will not be as active as it had been. It is important to note that roundworms can be transmitted to humans.
Treatment for roundworms is fairly easy and a pill normally takes care of these.
Tapeworms are very common in animals that have a flea infestation because flees are the carriers of tapeworm infection.
Tapeworms are long, flat worms composed of multiple segments. Tapeworms can be identified in the pet's stools or stuck in the fur under the cat's tail. These are alive segments from the tapeworm that have broken off from the adult parasite. Dead segments look like uncooked rice and may be seen in your pet's bedding. If the cat is infected with tapeworms, it may lose weight even though the dietary regime has not changed. These type of worms are not easily transmitted to humans as the human would similarly have to ingest infected flees.
Treatment of the tapeworm infestation is fairly straight forward and involves administration of oral medication or an injection.
Hookworms are very small worms that have hook like mouth parts. The infestation can cause anemia and diarrhea in adult cats, but can result in a death in kittens. The felines can get infected through the skin or by ingesting contaminated food and water. The infestation can also be passed on from an infected mother cat to the young.
There are many effective medications to treat hookworms. Worming medications mainly come in a topical form which is applied to the back of cat’s neck or in a tablet form. Your vet will be able to prescribe the most appropriate treatment.
Heartworms occur most commonly in dogs, but cats can also suffer from this type of worm infestation. Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites. Heartworms are not transmitted directly from one cat to another or from a dog directly to a cat.
The most common signs are coughing and rapid breathing, but both these conditions can be caused by several other diseases. Vomiting and weight loss is also commonly seen with this condition, but again can be also caused by other illnesses. Some cats that have heartworms display no symptoms at all but then die suddenly. There is no single blood test to help identify this parasite and a combination of blood tests, radiographs and ultrasound may be required to reliably determine the presence of heartworms.
There is no approved treatment of heartworms in cats and administration of medication that is used for dogs results in a high fatality rate in felines. It is sometimes successful, however, to treat the symptoms of the cat and hope that the cat outlives the worms.
The healthcare information above should be used for general guidance only and should not replace regular visits to the veterinary doctor.