Worms are internal parasites of the causing ill health and debility. Bowel worms can be most easily divided into two groups:
These are 2 to 6 inches long, pale white, to beige in colour and coiled like a spring. They may cause vomiting or diarrhoea in kittens but may cause few symptoms in the adult cat. Cats reinfect themselves by grooming their rear ends and can catch them from other cats. The dog roundworm has been incriminated in human infection, and there is now new evidence that the cat worm Toxocara cati can infect humans as well.
Tapeworms in cats can vary from a few inches to a foot in length. Normally only the tapeworm segment is seen which is usually white or cream in colour and 1/4 to 1/2 inch long and often seen around the hind quarters of the cat. Tapeworms require an ‘intermediate host’. Depending on the tapeworm type this host may be a flea, a rabbit, mouse, shrew or vole. Tapeworms are not passed from one cat to another and is a problem of the adult but rarely of kittens under 12 weeks of age. Heavy infestations can cause diarrhoea and irritation of the anus.
The most common source of infection is the flea. If your animal has fleas then unfortunately for you, they are breeding in your house! To get rid of tapeworms, you have to get rid of fleas as well.
Different drugs need to be used to worm the two types of worm successfully. We advise the use of several proprietary products which are effective against both worm types. An active, outdoor type of cat such as a hunter or one which has had fleas should be wormed every three months. House cats should be wormed every six months.
A high percentage of kittens pick up roundworms direct from their mothers around the time of birth. Heavy infestations can develop rapidly, and we would advise worming from four weeks of age, every two weeks until 12 weeks old and then every three months after that. If you see roundworms in a young kitten, this would suggest a heavy infestation, and we would advise you consult your vet.
Pregnancy in the cat (gestation period) lasts for 57-63 days. We would advise worming your cat every two weeks from the final third of pregnancy until weaning.
Both types of worm, especially tapeworms are common in the cat. Do remember to worm regularly.
We would like to introduce you to the Pet Health Club from Isabelle Vets that aims to bring you peace of mind by covering nearly all of the routine costs and procedures that are not covered by pet insurance.