Caring for a cat is no easy task. Like humans, they have their own special set of illnesses and medical conditions, and tapeworms are one of them. If your cat has worms, you may find yourself wondering what your next step should be.
Should I quarantine my cat with tapeworms? Should I take it to the vet? Is there medication I need to get? All valid concerns.
But don’t worry, tapeworms are a common concern among cat and dog owners. You’re not alone, and if you follow the right steps, your cat should get over this issue in no time.
What are Tapeworms?
A species of parasite, tapeworms, hook themselves to the walls of your cat’s small intestine. Fully grown they can reach lengths up to 12 inches. Over this time, half-inch pieces of the tapeworm – proglottids – break off and pass through the cat’s digestive system.
You’ll see these pieces in your pet’s litter or stuck to the hair around its anus.
If you do not spot them in time, these proglottids break open. Once cracked, they can release up to 20 fertilized eggs into your cat’s litter. The matter quickly escalates as numbers for the tapeworms drastically multiply.
How Do Cats Get Tapeworms?
Cats get tapeworms when they get fleas that are at risk of a tapeworm infection. That is because a flea larva has to consume a tapeworm egg for it to mature. Both the flea and the worm mature simultaneously, with the larva serving as the host.
Eventually, the adult flea will become a source of discomfort for your cat. It will groom itself to get rid of the itching sensation and accidentally swallow the parasite. Needless to say, as the flea passes through the cat’s digestive system, the tapeworm will be released and attach itself to the intestinal lining.
There, it will grow to its full size, break off proglottids and begin the cycle.
What is the Treatment for Tapeworms?
There are several treatment options for tapeworms, though the most effective are deworming medications or anthelmintics. Your vet can guide you and present suitable options.
They are available as both tablets that you can put into your cat’s food and a direct injectable version.
Once the medicine is consumed, the tapeworm dies. It is then digested and will not pass through your cat’s stool. However, pet owners may occasionally notice side effects like vomiting or diarrhea for a few days after taking the medication.
Should You Quarantine Your Cat?
Should I quarantine my cat with tapeworms? Absolutely! If you want to get the situation under control, you need to get rid of the flea infestation.
That s easier said than done. First, you need to comb through and remove all insects from your cat’s hair. Certain shampoos and specialty products can help you with this.
Next, you need to clear and clean your entire house, specifically any areas your cat frequently uses. Dispose of your pet’s litter regularly until the matter is resolved. You don’t want to risk eggs hatching or larvae recontaminating your kitty. Also, wipe down any surfaces your cat likes to sit on. Use antiseptic.
Remember, until the flea problem is resolved, there is no use treating the tapeworms because your cat will quickly become reinfected. So you need to be incredibly careful. Keep your cat away from other pets and children. Also, limit your own interaction.
Can Tapeworms Infect Humans?
Is it possible for you or your family members to get tapeworms from your cat? Yes, it is.
For this to happen, you would need to ingest a flea carrying a tapeworm egg. That means any situations where you hold your cat close to your face can result in an infection. Or if your cat sleeps on your bed or near your pillow. If your cat has been infected, be sure to quarantine it and limit your own exposure as well.
What Preventative Measures Should You Use?
Roundworms are a common issue in kittens who get them through their mother cat’s milk. Hence they need to be treated every 2 weeks between the ages of 3 to 8 weeks.
Tapeworms are a common issue among adult cats. Adult cats that are older than 6 months of age need treatment once every 1 to 3 months.
Apart from that, pet parents should look out for the signs of fleas, like scratching, hair loss, irritation, lethargy, excessive grooming, spots, and specks.
As long as your pet is hygienic and you clean its litter regularly, it cannot contract fleas. Since tapeworm eggs require flea larva as hosts, your cat cannot get a worm infection if there are no fleas.
Also, be sure to check your pet’s feces from time to time and keep an eye out for tapeworm signs. The segments that break off look like tiny white segments crawling around. Overall, your pet’s hygiene should be a priority.